Aaron Rodgers’ Exit Strategy From Packers Put in Place: Report

Rodgers Contract Rework

Getty Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks on before the game against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Aaron Rodgers is expected to be back in Green Bay for the 2021 season, but not before taking control of his long-term future with the Packers.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Packers and Rodgers are close to finalizing a reworked version of his current contract that would ensure the reigning NFL MVP quarterback will return to lead the team in 2021 while also effectively granting him the freedom to decide where he plays in 2022 — whether it be Green Bay or somewhere else.

While the two sides have not yet officially agreed upon a new arrangement, Schefter said league sources have indicated things began to come together over the past week while David Dunn, Rodgers’ agent, was in Green Bay having “extensive meetings with high-ranking Packers officials.” He also laid out the expected framework of Rodgers’ adjusted deal with the Packers making numerous concessions to their quarterback.

Part of the new agreement, according to Schefter, would include the Packers voiding the final year of Rodgers’ contract and eliminating the possibility of being able to tag him in the future. The Packers would also agree to “review” Rodgers’ situation again after the season concludes, implying they would trade him if he was still interested in leaving Green Bay following 2021.

Additionally, the Packers would adjust the financial details of Rodgers’ contract to create more immediate salary-cap space without reducing his overall income on the deal.

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Reworked Deal Could Help Both Sides

The Packers’ willingness to rework Rodgers’ deal makes sense given Schefter reported he was originally planning to skip training camp. Such a decision would have forced the Packers to roll with Jordan Love, their untested first-rounder, at least a full year before they had originally intended. They also restructured numerous contracts throughout the offseason to keep key veterans in place for one more “all-in” run in 2021, a plan that would have required major adjustment if Love replaced Rodgers at the helm.

Instead, the Packers and Rodgers should both be able to get what they want out of a new agreement. Green Bay will get to see whether they can finally get over the hump in the playoffs after reaching the NFC Championship Game in each of the past two years but falling short of another Super Bowl appearance. And Rodgers, should he still be unhappy with the organization once the season ends, will presumably get to leave Green Bay behind and start fresh with a new team in 2022.

If the latter scenario plays out, the Packers will at least know the precise draft stock of potential trade partners unlike if they tried trading him before the 2021 season. They would not need to worry about Rodgers’ presence with the new team harming their returns if they cut their deal somewhere in the sweet spot between the end of the 2021 playoffs and the start of the 2022 NFL draft.

Of course, there is always the more optimistic possibility …

Can Rodgers & Packers Still Find Happy Ending?

On the surface, an altered deal for Rodgers would seem to set up Green Bay’s own version of “The Last Dance” where key players — including star wide receiver Davante Adams — would head into the 2021 season treating it like their last in a Packers uniform. Rodgers and Adams helped reinforce that idea on Saturday when they simultaneously posted the same picture of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to their Instagram accounts.

Never forget the impact winning a championship can have on a franchise or athlete, though. Rodgers might not be pleased with the Packers at the moment and the Packers may feel confident that Love is destined to replace Rodgers, but there is always a chance the two sides grow closer together again over the 2021 season and have a change of heart that keeps Rodgers in Green Bay for the rest of his career.

Rodgers has long expressed a desire to finish his NFL career with the Packers and only once Love was drafted did he begin to acknowledge his future was no longer in his control. It would still be a big decision for the Packers to walk back their selection of Love and choose a 38-year-old over a 22-year-old to lead their offense, but Rodgers did also just win his third MVP award. Odds don’t favor him doing the same again in 2021, but he could still deliver high-caliber play that convinces the Packers they were mistaken to think he needed replacing.

Until then, expect both sides to begin dancing.

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