Aaron Rodgers’ future with the Green Bay Packers just went from a “beautiful mystery” to a draft-night disaster after a bombshell report from ESPN indicated the reigning NFL MVP is not interested in returning to the team for the 2021 season.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, league and team sources have told him that Rodgers is “so disgruntled” with the Packers that he has made it clear to members of the organization this offseason that he does not want to come back to the team next season.
Packers team president Mark Murphy, general manager Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur have each flown out on separate trips to visit with Rodgers this offseason, but the 37-year-old quarterback has not budged, per Schefter. The Packers have also been firm that they are not interested in trading Rodgers despite reportedly getting trade inquiries from the Los Angeles Rams (pre-Matthew Stafford trade) and San Francisco 49ers this offseason.
The Packers traded up and selected former Utah State quarterback Jordan Love in last spring’s 2020 NFL draft, a decision that came as a surprise to just about everyone — including Rodgers. While Rodgers responded by winning his third career NFL MVP award and leading the Packers to their second consecutive NFC Championship Game, it has allowed a cloud of uncertainty to loom over his future.
Rodgers is currently under contract from another three NFL seasons and is set to carry a $37.202 million salary-cap hit into the 2021 season. The Packers would incur a dead-cap hit of $38.356 million.
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Can Packers Salvage Aaron Rodgers Situation?
Based on Schefter’s reporting, the Packers may have no choice but to give in to what Rodgers wants. He would likely not turn down additional money and security if he were not dead-set on following through with the now-reported decision to leave Green Bay in 2021; though, that hasn’t stopped the Packers from rejecting the idea of life without Aaron Rodgers.
“As we’ve stated since the season ended, we are committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond,” Gutekunst said, via ESPN. “Aaron has been a vital part of our success and we look forward to competing for another championship with him leading our team.”
Could Rodgers Get Traded on Draft Night?
As media pundits were quick to point, the Packers may have no better opportunity than right now, on the day of the 2021 NFL draft, to capitalize on Rodgers’ interest in moving on. It is understandable why they would have been initially resistant to consider trading Rodgers in 2021 — evidently getting their call from the 49ers on Wednesday night, via Schefter — but it depends on what Rodgers is willing to do.
If Schefter’s report holds true and Rodgers is determined to hold out next season to force the Packers into trading him, they would be best served dealing him away now while quarterback-hungry teams are willing to give up immediate capital to acquire him. The 49ers may not have made a formal trade offer to the Packers on Wednesday night, but their interest alone suggests the Packers could have gotten the No. 3 overall pick in 2021 along with numerous other pieces in exchange for Rodgers.
The Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 1 pick) and New York Jets (No. 2) are both in a position to take excellent rookie quarterback prospects on Thursday night, but it isn’t ridiculous to think that the availability of a reigning MVP quarterback could convince them to deal with the Packers. The Washington Football Team, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots are also teams who would have reason to draft a first-round quarterback in 2021.