In the past week there has been considerable speculation about Aaron Rodgers possibly playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers next season, with much of the talk fueled by Rodgers himself. While appearing on the Pat McAfee Show on Sept. 28, 2021, the longtime Green Bay Packers quarterback gushed about the city of Pittsburgh and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
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The fact that television cameras caught the two sharing a moment during this past Sunday’s Steelers-Packers game only added to the intrigue—an exchange of smiles that took place after Tomlin called a timeout to prevent the Steelers for getting flagged for too many men on the field.
On Oct. 5, Rodgers made yet another of his weekly appearances on the Pat McAfee Show and had a chance to comment about his “flirting with Tomlin,” as co-host A.J. Hawk put it.
“I’m a big Mike Tomlin fan,” said Rodgers. “I have been for a long time. I like the way he speaks about his team. I like the way he goes about his business. I like his confidence. I’ve heard nothing but good things from guys that have played there. I like Mike Tomlin, and I also like that he called that timeout. We were trying to catch them with 12 men on the field. He was kind of smirking about that. I like that. I respect that.”
But the three-time first-team All-Pro and former Super Bowl champion went on to insist that he’s not trying to encourage a trade from the Packers to the Steelers.
“I’m just speaking the truth,” he added. “They asked me a question about Mike Tomlin. If you want to take that and run with it and say I’m angling for some sort of next team, I’m not. I’m just answering the question about my respect for Mike and what he has accomplished in the league.”
The Prospects for a Packers-Steelers Trade
Never mind that a trade to the Steelers makes a certain amount of sense, assuming that Rodgers wants to leave the Packers, as was reported—by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, for example—during the offseason.
Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, 39, is in the final year of his contract and the quality of his play in late 2020-21 suggests that 2021 will almost certainly be his last year in the league. Meanwhile, the Steelers have no clear successor in place. In fact, Pittsburgh has only one quarterback under contract for 2022, that being current backup Mason Rudolph, though third-stringer Dwayne Haskins could also be retained, as he will be a restricted free agent in 2022.
Rodgers, who will be 38 in December 2021, could serve as a top-quality stopgap option, buying the Steelers time to find another franchise quarterback. That assumes the two teams can agree on compensation and that Pittsburgh can fit Rodgers’ contract under its salary cap. As per overthecap.com, Rodgers is slated to earn $26,470,588 in salary in 2022.
As for Rodgers, he would be joining a team that has a strong defense led by perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate T.J. Watt. The Steelers also have an enviable group of skill position players on offense (including rookie running back Najee Harris), though their collective talents are currently being diminished thanks to subpar quarterback and offensive line play.
With the addition of a top quarterback and another offseason to work on the offensive line, it’s not hard to envision the Steelers returning to Super Bowl contender status in short order.
Pittsburgh Dad to Aaron Rodgers: ‘Pittsburgh Has a Lot to Offer’
Of course, if Mike Tomlin isn’t enough, by himself, to entice Rodgers to the Steel City, there are other selling points. In the midst of his segment with Rodgers on Oct. 5, Pat McAfee gave the star of the online sitcom Pittsburgh Dad a platform to sell Rodgers on the joys of living in Pittsburgh.
“We put fries on everything. We’ll even put them in your Blizzard down at Dairy Queens,” intoned Curt Wootton, who plays Pittsburgh Dad.
Yet Wooton didn’t stay on message for long, as he couldn’t resist talking a swipe at Pittsburgh’s offensive line, which is currently in the midst of a complete rebuild.
“You like ‘Jeopardy,’ right?” said Pittsburgh Dad, before adding: “The Steelers can offer this to Aaron Rodgers in terms of pass protection.”
“What is a wet paper towel?” he answered, drawing laughter from McAfee, Rodgers & Co.
That wet paper towel of an offensive line gets back to work on Sunday Oct. 10 at Heinz Field when the Steelers host the Denver Broncos at 1 p.m. ET.
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