The Denver Broncos appear particularly set on doing whatever they can to entice Rodgers, including hiring away former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett last month as the team’s next head coach. Hackett ran the Green Bay offense in concert with Rodgers for the previous three seasons, which included back-to-back trips to the NFC Championship Game in 2019 and 2020. But the Broncos are not stopping there.
Denver is also rumored to be courting Dom Capers to serve as a senior defensive assistant coach under the new regime. Capers worked as the Packers defensive coordinator for nine years during the Rodgers era, including in 2010-11 when the quarterback won his sole Super Bowl Championship. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Friday, February 11 broke the news that Capers would likely be joining the Broncos.
“The #Broncos are expected to hire long-time defensive coordinator Dom Capers as a senior defensive assistant to assist expected DC Ejiro Evero, source said,” Rapoport tweeted. “Capers has been a DC for four different teams and brings his vast experience for Evero, a first-time coordinator.”
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Broncos Hired Third Coach Connected to Rodgers Earlier in Week
If Hackett and Capers do not prove familiar enough to lure Rodgers out of Green Bay, the Broncos stretched their efforts even further with the recent hire of a new position coach.
The franchise added coach Ben Steele to its offensive staff on Tuesday. Steele has a unique connection to Rodgers stretching back more than 15 years, as Mike Klis of 9News Sports in Denver reported.
“Per source, Broncos adding Ben Steele, a Colorado product from Palisades and Mesa State, to their offensive staff,” Klis wrote on Twitter. “A former TE, Steele caught Aaron Rodgers’ first professional TD pass in a 2005 preseason game. Steele was Vikings [assistant offensive line] coach in 2021 under OC Klint Kubiak.”
Rodgers’ Future With Packers Still in Question, But Under His Control
The Broncos are clearly taking every opportunity to make the team as attractive to Rodgers as possible. Denver general manager George Paton was notably interested in trading for the QB as early as last offseason, per Michelle Bruton of Bleacher Report, when Rodgers first tried to push his way out of Green Bay.
Rodgers won his second consecutive MVP trophy, and the fourth of his 17-year career, in the time since. The Packers also secured a tie for the NFL’s best record at 13-4 and earned the No. 1 seed and only bye week through Wildcard Weekend of the NFC Playoffs. But all the success failed to add up to anything more than an unceremonious exit in the Divisional Round following a heartbreaking 13-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Rodgers noted after the season ended that his relationships with members of the Packers front office had improved over the previous year, as he was more involved with play calling and personnel decisions — two major sticking points he listed as reasons for wanting out of Green Bay in the first place.
The quarterback also acknowledged that Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst had built a Super Bowl-caliber team in Green Bay in 2021, but added that the franchise had several tough decisions to make about free agents and expensive, but important, players under contract for big money next season. Rodgers, 38, said flatly that he does not want to be part of a rebuild. However, the Packers may have no choice as the team needs to cut nearly $51 million in player salary before the start of next year.
Rodgers represents an approximately $46.5 million cap hit to the Packers next season, which is his last under contract with the team. If he chooses not to renegotiate and sign a long-term deal, Green Bay will probably be forced to trade him. On top of that, the front office promised last summer that it would put the QB on the trade market at the conclusion of this year if that is what Rodgers desired.
Denver is one of several teams interested in Rodgers’ services and has a solid group of young talent on the offensive side of the ball in wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, along with tight end Noah Fant and running back Javonte Williams. All five of those players are signed in Denver through at least the next two seasons.
The Broncos also hold the No. 9 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, which gives the team one of the better potential draft compensation packages to offer Green Bay in exchange for Rodgers. Any such offer would likely include multiple first-round selections, as well as other picks in early rounds of the next two or three drafts, per Bleacher Report.
The Broncos would also be expected to send either QB Teddy Bridgewater or QB Drew Lock to the Packers, as well as other players in return for Rodgers, should the two teams ultimately strike a deal.