Even with all of the quarterback options available to the Indianapolis Colts in the draft, they could end up trading away the No. 4 pick for Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
And ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler seemed to confirm Schefter’s reporting by writing that an unnamed NFC executive said that the Colts as a trade partner for the Packers “are sort of random but would make sense on paper.”
“The Colts enter the offseason with $20.6 million in cap space. They absolutely need a quarterback,” Fowler wrote in a January 24 story. “Despite a four-win season, the roster is not void of talent, especially on defense. And Indy owns the fourth overall pick, an easy dangling point in a potential deal with Green Bay.”
How Realistic Is It for Rodgers to Join the Colts?
After signing a three-year extension worth $150 million last offseason, Rodgers’ cap hits will be “around $15.75 million this year and $32.5 million the next,” per Fowler, which could fit with the Colts’ $20.6 million in cap space this offseason.
The Colts’ current quarterback, Matt Ryan, is under contract for one more season, but he was benched for the last three games of the season, making it unlikely they will want to bring him back. Indianapolis could save $17.2 million if Ryan is cut this offseason.
On the other hand, the Packers could turn to Jordan Love as its future starting quarterback. Love, a 2020 first-round pick, threw for 606 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in 2022. With a year left on Love’s rookie deal, the Packers could start him next year to see if they want to keep him around after 2023.
“(Colts general manager Chris) Ballard has to get one [a quarterback] and get it right,” the NFC executive said in Fowler’s story.
Even though he is under contract, Rodgers is in control when it comes to his future because of the fully guaranteed money owed to him by the Packers.
“Rodgers has the ultimate hammer,” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio wrote in a January 24 story. “He can tell the Packers, ‘I’m not leaving.’ He can force the Packers to pay him all that money, even if they’d rather turn the page to Jordan Love.”
Rodgers said on the January 24 episode of “The Pat McAfee Show” that he would make a decision when the time is right for him, noting his willingness to restructure his contract regardless of whom he plays for.
Rodgers’ Ability to Play at a High Level
The Packers finished 2022 with an 8-9 record, narrowly missing the playoffs. Rodgers had a “down year” in his age-39 season, throwing for 3,695 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. What’s interesting is that Rodgers did not throw for more than 300 yards in a game all year.
Still, it’s important to remember that the Packers’ leading receivers were Allen Lazard (who had less than 800 yards) and rookie Christian Watson. With limited weapons, Green Bay came up just short of a playoff berth even without Davante Adams, who had over 1,500 yards with the Packers in 2021 and was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders last offseason.
Rodgers could end up in a more favorable quarterback situation if he’s given more firepower. Besides the Colts, another team that could also try to trade for Rodgers is the New York Jets.
“Some people around the league can see it — assuming the Jets work on that cap deficit of nearly $3 million,” Fowler wrote in his report.
An NFC coordinator added that the Jets’ skill position players could make New York an attractive destination for Rodgers.
“‘That receiving corps is really talented and you know the defense is good,’” an NFC coordinator told Fowler. “‘They have pieces and are trending up. They should be desperate to get a QB in my opinion.’”
The Colts, on the other hand, could ultimately elect to draft and develop a rookie after starting three veteran quarterbacks for the last three seasons (Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan). One of Fowler’s sources suggests otherwise, pointing towards Rodgers’ successful career as an instrumental factor as to why the Colts would trade for him.
“‘Maybe they [the Colts] just draft one (quarterback) and save the money, but Rodgers would be different than their other past stopgap options because he’s more of a sure thing,’” an NFC executive told Fowler.