Charles Woodson Takes Strong Stance on Aaron Rodgers’ Future

Woodson/Rodgers Trade

Getty Former player Charles Woodson of the Green Bay Packers kisses his Hall of Fame ring during a halftime ceremony in the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field on November 28, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Green Bay Packers have a critical decision to make about quarterback Aaron Rodgers this offseason that will define the next few years of the franchise, and at least one of their Hall of Famers is advocating for them to make a change.

During a recent appearance on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, retired NFL defensive back Charles Woodson weighed in on Rodgers’ future with his former team and said he would be thinking about trading away the veteran quarterback if he were the one calling the shots for the Packers.

Here’s what Woodson told NFL Network on February 8:

“I’m just looking at the situation and, if I’m putting on my GM hat and I’m saying, ‘What are we going to do next season?’ And I look at the roster we have, you know what? I’m thinking about trading Aaron Rodgers and see what I can get in return for him. Maybe I can get a quarterback that can help steady my quarterback room and get some competition for Jordan Love. I’m telling (Matt) LaFleur, ‘Hey, Jordan Love does not leave the building this offseason, we’re gonna get him prepared to play …’ If I’m the Packers, you flirted with it a little bit last offseason, life without Aaron Rodgers. You know, now you’re really thinking about the future, so I’m thinking about trading Aaron Rodgers this offseason if I can.”

This isn’t the first time that Woodson has predicted that Rodgers will finish his NFL career somewhere other than Green Bay. He expressed concern last offseason that the two sides could be heading for a “nasty” ending prior to the draft-day report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter about Rodgers’ discontent that set off a frenzy of trade rumors.

“It could be one of those situations where it gets nasty,” Woodson said in April 2021. “I certainly hope that doesn’t happen, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire. This could be a situation where — before you know it — someone makes some kind of play or offer and Green Bay can’t refuse. They’ll say ‘Hey, we’ll go our separate ways and he wants to be somewhere else and we’ll move on with the future of this team.’”

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Packers Still Awaiting Aaron Rodgers’ Decision

The Packers have been upfront about their desire to retain Rodgers for 2022 since their postseason run ended. Head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters three days after their loss in the NFC divisional round that he was “hopeful” Rodgers would return as their starting quarterback next season, while team president Mark Murphy confirmed all of the Packers’ decision-makers are on the same page about bringing him back.

“A key factor will be whether Aaron Rodgers comes back for the 2022 season,” Murphy wrote in his monthly column for February. “Matt, (general manager) Brian (Gutekunst), executive vice president/director of football operations Russ Ball and I are all in agreement that we want Aaron to come back. He is likely to win his fourth league MVP, is the unquestioned leader of our team and is still playing at a high level at 38.”

The decision, however, will ultimately come down to what Rodgers wants to do. He and the Packers re-negotiated his contract prior to the start of last summer’s training camp in a way that ensured he would return for 2021, but the tradeoff was eliminating the 2023 year from his current deal and effectively forcing the Packers to decide on his future a full year earlier than originally expected.

If Rodgers wants to stay, the next step would be both sides working out a new contract that gives him several seasons of security with the team and reduces his current cap number for the 2022 season — which is currently set to be a ridiculous $46.66 million. At the same time, if a change is what he wants, he could refuse to sign a new deal and request a trade. He could also simply retire from the NFL, moving on to the next phase of his life as a soon-to-be husband to Shailene Woodley and — eventually — a father.

“I don’t wanna be a part of a rebuild if I’m gonna keep playing, so you know, a lot of decisions in the next couple months,” Rodgers said in the aftermath of the Packers’ divisional-round loss to San Francisco.

Rodgers Not Looking to Drag Out Decision

Speculation about Rodgers’ future is going to run rampant until a decision is finally made about what he wants from the Packers. The good news: Rodgers himself has said he doesn’t intend to drag out the process for too long into the offseason.

It won’t be something where I’ll drag it out for months and months,” Rodgers said prior to the end of the 2021 regular season. “I’ll have conversations with my loved ones after the season, with Brian and Mark and Russ 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.”

While there isn’t exactly a set date for when Rodgers might make his decision, it stands to reason he will decide before the start of the new NFL year and free agency on March 16. After all, the Packers will have to dig themselves out of a salary-cap hole that has them more than $50 million over the 2022 cap before then, and Rodgers’ enormous cap hit is the biggest piece of the puzzle. Either it gets reduced through a new contract or is moved off the books altogether via trade or retirement.

It is possible Rodgers is waiting to see how the Packers handle Davante Adams’ pending free agency before making a final decision. The All-Pro wideout is close with Rodgers and is looking to become the highest-paid receiver in the NFL in the next few months, but Adams and the Packers were struggling to agree on what his next contract should be worth before negotiations broke down before the start of the 2021 season.

The Packers could place a franchise tag on Adams — estimated to be worth about $20 million for the 2022 season — but it would only complicate their financial problems. The cost of the tag would have to be added before the start of the new league year, meaning they would have to create room for another $20 million prior to March 16. Easier said than done, even with a new contract for Rodgers.