The Denver Broncos are still widely considered a top candidate to make a play for Aaron Rodgers if the Green Bay Packers decide to make their three-time MVP quarterback available for a trade in the upcoming NFL offseason. Now, they might also be trying to sweeten the deal for Rodgers with a familiar face.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Broncos have requested permission to interview Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett for their head-coaching vacancy for the 2022 season. The top job in Denver officially became available on January 9 when the Broncos dismissed Vic Fangio after three seasons.
Other reports have also confirmed the Broncos’ interest in several other head-coaching candidates, including New England Patriots linebacker coach Jerod Mayo, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy and both of the Dallas Cowboys’ top assistants — offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
Hackett has been a rising name on the list of potential first-time head coaches for 2022. At least three teams have requested to interview him since he took over as the Packers’ offensive coordinator in 2019, beginning when the Atlanta Falcons interviewed him for their head-coaching vacancy last January. Hackett also recently confirmed he plans to interview for the job with the Jacksonville Jaguars during their first-round bye week.
”It’s absolutely an honor to be even considered for something like this,” Hackett told reporters over Zoom on January 6. ”So we’re going to do it during the bye because we wrapped up that No. 1 seed. It’s a dream for any football coach to have an opportunity to potentially become a head coach.”
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Rodgers Has Good Relationship With Hackett
Rodgers has made no secrets about his love for Hackett throughout their three seasons together in Green Bay. Since Hackett took over as offensive coordinator in 2019, the Packers have averaged 27.2 points, 248.0 passing yards, 118.6 rushing yards and 366.7 total yards across 49 regular-season games. The Packers also finished as the No. 1 scoring offense in the league in 2020 as Rodgers threw 48 touchdown passes and the team racked up a total of 509 points against 16 opponents.
Beyond Hackett’s on-field success, Rodgers also appreciates the energy his OC brings to the equation as a coach and leader of their team and considers him to have the presence of someone who will one day ascend to the rank of NFL head coach.
“He’s able to captivate the audience, which is usually the offense,” Rodgers said last January, via the Wisconsin State Journal. “Any time he gets up in his meetings, he has great energy. I don’t know how he does it sometimes, but to have a beautiful wife and four kids and all the demands that being a father has on you, and then to be able to bring it every single day at the facility is very admirable. He’s been around football a long time. His dad obviously is one of the legendary coaches of this profession. So he has the pedigree, but his presence … he brings such a great positive energy to the room.
“I think any team would be lucky to have him in their squad.”
Rodgers Won’t Drag Out Decision on Future
At this point, it is anyone’s guess what will happen with Rodgers and the Packers after their upcoming playoff run is over. Rodgers will be entering the final year of his contract in 2022 and carrying a cap number that is currently unreasonable for the Packers to take into the new league year. That means the team will either come together with Rodgers and work out a new deal that keeps him in Green Bay for the foreseeable future or choose to move on from his towering legacy and trade him to another team with the intentions of passing the baton to Jordan Love.
How the Packers fare in the postseason could have a large bearing on that decision. If the Packers are eliminated in their first matchup, the inevitable frustration of falling short for a third consecutive year could push one or both sides toward a fresh start. And yet, if the Packers win the Super Bowl — and Rodgers snags his fourth-career MVP — it would be difficult for them to justify moving forward with anyone else as their starter.
Whatever happens, Rodgers has no intentions of dragging things out with the Packers.
“It won’t be something where I’ll drag it out for months and months,” Rodgers said of making a decision on his future in Green Bay. “I’ll have conversations with my loved ones after the season, with Brian and (Packers president and CEO) Mark (Murphy) and (executive vice president and director of football operations) Russ (Ball) and the coaching staff and then make a decision at some point.
“You know, I’m not going to hold the team back from anything, and once I commit — if it’s committing to move forward here — it’ll be a quick decision.”
If Rodgers’ decision does involve him leaving the Packers, though, the Broncos could present him with an ideal landing spot. They have a roster loaded with offensive weapons such as Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant and Javonte Williams and all of them are locked up for at least two more seasons after 2021. They also have the draft capital — including the No. 9 overall pick in 2022 along with multiple picks in both the second and third rounds — to make the Packers an enticing offer.