Proposed Trade Flips Packers QB Rodgers For Former No. 1 Draft Pick

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Getty Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers warms up prior to the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field on January 22, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

The Green Bay Packers have several options if they decide to trade QB Aaron Rodgers this offseason, including grabbing a former overall top pick in return.

NFL analyst Bill Barnwell, of ESPN, took a deep dive last week into the multiple possibilities for Rodgers and the Packers should the reigning MVP force his team’s hand into a trade. One of the options Barnwell explored was that of a deal with the Cleveland Browns that would include multiple first-round picks and the services of QB Baker Mayfield in exchange for the 38-year-old Rodgers.

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“If the Packers want to have their cake and eat it too by trading Rodgers to the AFC, picking up multiple first-rounders and landing a quarterback who could be their long-term starter without blocking Love, making a move for Mayfield might be the way to make that happen,” Barnwell explained.

Mayfield to Packers Makes Sense if Rodgers Departs Green Bay

Getty ImagesQuarterback Baker Mayfield, of the Cleveland Browns.

Mayfield’s last two seasons in Cleveland have been spent under the tutelage of Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, whose offense mirrors that of San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. Green Bay also runs a similar style of offense, which Barnewell said would ease the Packers’ transition to Mayfield under center.

Barnwell laid out the situation in an article published on January 29:

Mayfield is another quarterback with experience running the Shanahan offense, having done so the past two seasons under Stefanski in Cleveland. The results have been decidedly mixed. He looked like a franchise quarterback as the Browns made a push into the 2020 postseason, but while dealing with a shoulder injury in 2021, he wasn’t quite as impressive. The most likely scenario seems to be the Browns letting Mayfield play out his fifth-year option in 2022.

If the Browns were the team that put together a huge package for Rodgers, though, it would make sense for the Packers to ask for Mayfield as part of the return. (To be clear, it would still take multiple first-round picks alongside Mayfield to get a deal done.)

While the Packers would need to restructure Mayfield’s deal to reduce his base salary, trading for him would give the Packers a legitimate contender to compete with Love and a quarterback who has played well when the pieces around him are right.

Packers Could Retain Mayfield For Years Without Major Commitment

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

GettyQuarterback Aaron Rodgers, of the Green Bay Packers, scrambles during the 1st quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field on January 22, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Mayfield is far from a sure bet, but he’s not a scrub either.

As Barnwell pointed out, Mayfield dealt with multiple injuries in 2021 — a year in which the young QB was more banged up than he’s ever been throughout his four-year professional career. The Browns struggled to an 8-9 win/loss record and missed the playoffs in a letdown season. However, one doesn’t have to think back very far to remember a time when Mayfield looked like the future in Cleveland.

Just one year prior, Mayfield led the Browns to their first playoff victory in more than 25 years. During that regular season, he completed 62.8% of his passes for 3,563 yards through the air and 26 TDs compared to just 8 INTs, per Pro Football Reference.

Mayfield is owed $18.8 million on the final year of his rookie deal and the Browns have yet to extend him, meaning he’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023. However, teams are allowed to apply the franchise tag to a player for up to two seasons. If the Packers trade Rodgers and his roughly $46.5 million cap hit in 2022, then bring in Mayfield and restructure his contract, Green Bay could find itself with approximately $30 million extra this offseason to re-sign a number of big-name players they are likely to lose otherwise.

The Packers could use their 2022 franchise tag to lock up Pro-Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams for a year, use their cap space to build around Mayfield and see what they have for a season in what should be a relatively weak NFC North Division. The Packers would have the option to sign Mayfield long-term following the year or use the franchise tag to keep him around for one more go if the fit works out.

Jordan Love, who Green Bay drafted in the first round two years ago as the eventual replacement for Rodgers, is still in the quarterbacks room and serves as a solution should the Packers decide to move on from Mayfield after one season.

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