Trade demands and threats of retirement from Rodgers have been sandwiched between the organization trading up to draft his replacement years too early and dealing away the best target the prolific passer ever had when the Packers shipped Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders. Oh, and there’s also the two consecutive MVP Awards, a mutual agreement on the richest annual contract in NFL history, several NFC North Division titles and an equal number of playoff letdowns over that same span.
Life has been nuts in Green Bay but now, as the Packers enter their long-awaited bye week after an injury-riddled and disappointing start to the year, the bigger picture is finally starting to take shape. Yes, questions abound, many of which involve Rodgers’ playing future. Will he be traded? Will he demand to be? Will Rodgers retire and leave tens of millions of dollars on the table? If he wants to go, how can the Packers convince him to stay? Do the Packers even want Rodgers to stay, or does it make more sense to transition to Jordan Love now and get off the reigning MVP’s massive contract by whatever means necessary?
The emergence of rookie receiver Christian Watson over the last month as one of the NFL’s most dynamic playmakers has brought at least some measure of clarity to those questions. It has also simultaneously cut a clear path through the unknowns toward a potential Rodgers’ return to Green Bay in 2023, and possibly for the remainder of his career, however long that proves to be.
The quarterback said as much after he and Watson kept the Packers’ slim playoff hopes alive with a comeback victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, December 4.
Watson’s Rapid Ascension Offers Rodgers Incentive to Stay With Packers in 2023
Rodgers took to the podium Sunday afternoon where he was asked directly if Watson’s jaw-dropping ascension over the last month, in which the receiver has scored eight touchdowns over a four-game run, might impact the quarterback’s decision on whether to play again in 2023, and specifically play in a Packers uniform.
I left [the University of California, Berkley] and I coulda came back with DeSean Jackson at receiver and Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. I don’t regret it because things have turned out pretty well, but that would have been interesting playing with those two guys.
I say that because the way Christian [Watson] has developed, you definitely gotta feel good organizationally with his development. It’s a rapid, wild development and it’s hard to think about another player who goes from being kind of a here-and-there, minimal production [player] to a go-to type player, a home run player.
Pretty special. It’ll all factor into it, but there’s gotta be mutual desire on both sides.
Packers’ Playoff Hopes Likely to Persist For at Least 2 More Weeks
Before Rodgers and Green Bay truly dive into what next year, and the future beyond that, may hold for their relationship, the Packers have to settle the rest of their regular season business.
The team remains in the NFC playoff hunt as it heads into its week off, which will presumably see many on the roster return rested and considerably healthier, Rodgers included. Green Bay will also have a chance to gather some momentum to their side by stringing together a win streak, albeit one of just two games.
The Packers will host the banged up Los Angeles Rams, who are certain to be without their starting quarterback in Matthew Stafford and their best wide receiver in Cooper Kupp, both of whom are on IR. The Rams no longer have any incentive to win this season, while the Packers do. A victory would put Green Bay two games under .500 at 6-8 with a Christmas contest slated against the Miami Dolphins in South Florida six days later.
Barring major injury developments, the Dolphins will likely enter that game as odds-on favorites, but the Packers have surprised before. The Dallas Cowboys look to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender and Green Bay was able to dispatch with them a few weeks back. A healthy Rodgers, a surging Watson and a couple of good bounces could be enough to push the Packers over the top in Miami, at which point the playoff conversation would become much more than just a long shot proposition.
If Green Bay can navigate its way back to the playoffs, the promise of an upgrade or two at wide receiver in the offseason alongside Watson might tip the scales for Rodgers when it comes to that age-old question so prevalent for quarterbacks as they near the end of their careers: Should I stay, or should I go?