The NFL trade machine is humming as this offseason is likely to see big names under center switch teams and alter the very fabric of the league — and the Green Bay Packers may not be immune to the impending shift.
With Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady now apparently off the board and headed for retirement, Aaron Rodgers is arguably the biggest domino that could fall and begin a chain reaction rippling across the whole of the NFL. The three-time MVP said following another disappointing playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers that he has no interest in being part of a rebuild, which Green Bay may be forced into due to salary cap concerns.
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A top trade contender for Rodgers has emerged in the form of the Denver Broncos, but ESPN’s Bill Barnwell believes another AFC West Division squad has what it takes to outbid them for Rodgers’ services. Enter the Las Vegas Raiders and three-time Pro-Bowl quarterback Derek Carr.
Barnwell Outlines Trade Package to Swap Rodgers, Carr
Assuming Rodgers decides not to play ball with the Packers and renegotiate his current deal to alleviate the $46.5 million cap hit it represents in 2022, Green Bay would be all but forced to trade him. That is why, despite being under contract for another full season, Rodgers holds most of the cards.
The Packers wouldn’t be left destitute in a split with the reigning MVP, who will command a hefty price on the trade market. Even at 38, Rodgers carries more value than Carr, so any prospective deal would also be likely to include some draft compensation.
Barnwell laid out the situation in a piece published Saturday, January 29.
If the Packers wanted to ship Rodgers to the AFC West, it wouldn’t be impossible to imagine them getting Carr back as a veteran option to take his place. Carr has been an above-average quarterback for several seasons, and as he enters the final year of his contract, he would be a smaller step down for the Packers than the one they would likely experience with Love as their starter.
Carr has been criticized in the past for being relatively conservative as a passer, but those arguments don’t apply any longer. Over the past two seasons, with limited receiving options outside of tight end Darren Waller — who missed chunks of 2021 because of injuries — Carr’s offense has produced 50 plays of 30 yards or more. That’s nearly as many as the Chiefs (51) over that same timespan.
It’s possible the Packers could flip Carr for additional picks, but he would be a reasonable replacement in the short term if they want to give Love more seasoning.
Broncos Positioned Well to Offer Huge Draft Package For Rodgers
Rodgers is likely to have a strong say in where he ends up, but both Denver and Las Vegas were on his list of desired destinations last April when he first started pushing to get out of Green Bay, per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Each team has a strong roster around the QB position and each has a distinct package of value to offer in return for Rodgers.
As noted above, the Raiders can send a Pro-Bowl signal caller and proven winner in Carr back Green Bay’s way, while Denver can send hope in the form of draft picks — a lot of them.
Michell Bruton, of Bleacher Report, pitched the idea of Rodgers to the Broncos in return for Denver’s 1st and 2nd round picks in 2022 and 2023, as well as QB Drew Lock. The Broncos own the No. 9 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, which makes this particular compensation package incredibly valuable and would afford Green Bay several options to secure Rodgers’ replacement either in the draft or via the trade market. The Broncos also hired new head coach Nathaniel Hackett, formerly the Packers’ offensive coordinator, presumably to try and turn Rodgers’ eye.
Should Rodgers decide it is time to depart Green Bay, the best case scenario for the Packers would be to start a bidding war in the AFC West, where the will and ammunition to fight it appear as bountiful as anywhere in the league.