As the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers negotiate their future together out of the public eye, some NFL analysts are offering up some blockbuster ways for both sides to get what they want from each other in 2021.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell took a look at the ups and downs of the Packers’ 2021 offseason in a recent article for the sports media goliath, spending a predictable amount of time on the current rift that has divided franchise from franchise quarterback. While he partially recapped the highlights of the past several months, he also posited a potential resolution with league-shaking consequences.
The type of resolution that, you know, involves the Packers extending Aaron Rodgers, trading away quarterback Jordan Love and adding veteran wide receiver Julio Jones to their roster for a dynamic Super Bowl run.
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Barnwell’s Trade Proposal
Atlanta Falcons receive: QB Jordan Love and a mid-round draft pick
Green Bay Packers receive: WR Julio Jones
Now, before you started fuming about the salary-cap restrictions of Green Bay taking on Jones’ enormous contract, Barnwell attempted to calculate a way around it using a cap-saving method that many Packers fans would love to use employed: giving Rodgers a long-term contract extension with ample security that makes Love’s rookie deal irrelevant to him.
Barnwell’s scenario would see the Packers add two years and $90 million onto Rodgers’ current deal, allowing him to earn more than $163 million over the next five years with $98.5 million guaranteed to be earned before the end of 2023. The hypothetical contract structure would also reduce Rodgers’ cap hit by about $15 million in 2021 and about $9 million in 2022, providing immediate cap relief that he explained could have multiple purposes:
Green Bay will want to use some of that space to lock up Davante Adams, but there’s something else they can do with their room: trade for Jones, who is due $38.3 million over the next three years. The Falcons star gives the Packers a bit of leverage if the Adams negotiations don’t go well and gives them a devastating one-two punch at wide receiver for 2021. In this scenario, Rodgers gets the job security he deserves and the second superstar target he’s reportedly wanted.
Barnwell also believes the logic is there for Atlanta. According to NBC Sports’ Peter King, the Falcons have been looking to get an unconditional 2022 second-round pick for Jones from a team that is also willing to take on the $38.3 million remaining on his three-year deal; however, the conversation could be different if the Packers are offering up a former first-round quarterback who could give them a long-term successor plan with veteran Matt Ryan.
Why Julio Jones Trade is Unrealistic for Packers
OK, let’s play this out once and only once.
There are some interesting ideas in Barnwell’s proposal. An extension for Rodgers would widely be seen as a happy ending to the standstill that has dominated headlines for more than a month now. Trading for Jones would also give the Packers quite a bit of newfound leverage in their contract negotiations with Davante Adams without completely taking away their ability to keep him under contract beyond 2021. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where the good news ends.
As of June, the Packers only have two veteran contracts left on their offseason roster that they could still reasonably adjust for cap purposes — Rodgers’ deal and Adams’ deal. Neither one presents an easy path to savings, either. Adams would have no incentive to restructure the final year of his contract, so clearing space with him could only be done with an extension. And with Rodgers … well, nobody except for him and maybe a few key Packers leaders know how they will end.
Even if they do clear cap space, the Packers might have no interest in taking on the pricey contract of a 32-year-old wide receiver who missed seven games with injuries last season. Adams will want a similar payday to Jones next offseason and is younger and more capable of meeting the demands of the offense, which requires its receivers to put their bodies on the line as blockers in the run game.
There’s no denying Adams and Jones lining up opposite from one another would be a devasting tandem with Rodgers at quarterback and the other weapons installed in the offense, but fitting them together beyond 2021 would be near-impossible with them already projected to be about $30 million over the cap in 2022.