Where, oh where, will Aaron Rodgers go?
After an offseason of rumors, reports and drama, the Packers quarterback could be eyeing an exit from Green Bay this offseason, setting the stage for a quarterback-needy team to trade for one of the league’s best.
In the offseason, reports leaked that Rodgers may have had his eyes on the west coast: the Rams and 49ers both checked in him, with the Raiders, Broncos and 49ers all on Rodgers’ list of approved trade candidates.
While one of those teams doesn’t seem like a fit anymore entering 2022, the addition of one team into the mix seems like Rodgers and the Packers may have some options for a trade partner in the future.
Given his contract situation — and seeming discomfort with the front office — Rodgers will most certainly be playing on a new team come 2022. Here are the options for the All Pro passer for the upcoming season:
Where will Aaron Rodgers play in 2022?
The rumors surrounding Rodgers persisted throughout the 2021 offseason, prior to his return to the Packers just before the start of training camp.
Rodgers made it clear that he was mulling two options: Returning to the Packers or retirement. He also made it clear that a trade was on the table, though he didn’t explicitly request one.
There is a world in which Rodgers still ends up a Packer in 2022. Never say never, after all. Maybe a big-time season (or a Super Bowl victory) means Rodgers will run it back with the Pack again next season.
If not, the Packers and Rodgers could be heading for a split this upcoming offseason. There are a few pending landing spots should Rodgers move on from Green Bay following 2021:
The Broncos are surely going to continue their QB churn after seeing diminishing returns from Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock, as the team looks to find another solution to their on-and-off again quarterback situation.
The Broncos have started a dozen quarterbacks since Peyton Manning’s departure following 2015, and passed on the opportunity to take a QB in the 2021 NFL Draft despite Justin Fields and Mac Jones both on the board when they selected cornerback Patrick Surtain II.
Denver is reportedly interested in Deshaun Watson, as well, but Watson’s legal situation and his no-trade clause complicate matters. They’ll undoubtedly scour their options for QB once again entering 2021, and Rodgers will likely be at the top of that list.
The Peyton Manning twilight years resulted in a Super Bowl win and lots of good, winning football, and Rodgers may follow in Peyton’s footsteps: the Broncos have a strong, young offensive skill position cast and an expensive defense with young, malleable pieces. If they want any hope of competing in the AFC West though, a division that plays home to Justin Herbert, Derek Carr and Patrick Mahomes, they’re going to have to get good at QB and fast.
Denver was one of Rodgers’ reported preferred trade destinations this offseason. If things remain unchanged, then the Broncos may be the best fit for both sides.
Well, first, there’s this cute moment that took place during the Packers-Steelers matchup earlier in 2021:
Aaron Rodgers looking at Mike Tomlin how a woman looks at a dude in the club when she got a man but knows it’s gonna be over soon..
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) October 3, 2021
There’s also Rodgers’ effusive praise of head coach Mike Tomlin, which he shared on an episode of “The Pat McAfee Show” earlier in the season:
“I’m a big Mike Tomlin fan, I have been for a long time. I like the way that he speaks about his team and the way he goes about his business,” he said.
Then, there’s Tomlin’s reported desire to bring aboard another veteran quarterback, and not restart with a rookie passer.
Both sides seem to be playing that middle school game of “Do you like me? But do you like me like me?” To which the answer would seem to be a yes.
There is the question, though, of price: Would the Steelers, who have historically guarded their draft capital and generally avoided making trades that involve first-rounders in their history, be willing to part with those picks to land Rodgers.
With Ben Roethlisberger is nearing his end as Steelers quarterback and the 2022 quarterback draft class looking fairly weak, maybe it’s time for Pittsburgh to jump into the deep end of the pool and make a move for Rodgers this offseason.
It sure seems like the two sides like like each other.
Would the Raiders roll the dice on bringing A-Rod to the Sin City?
Las Vegas was originally on Rodgers’ reported list of approved trade destinations, but there are questions looming for Vegas this offseason to answer before a decision is made at QB: Who will be the team’s next head coach? Will Mike Mayock remain on as the team’s GM? What say will the new coach have in personnel, and the quarterback situation?
With the Raiders and Carr working (and hitting a roadblock) on a new contract, there’s reason to believe that the current Raiders starter will be the future Raiders starter, unless something happens this season to lock in Carr as starter for the foreseeable future.
Carr’s contract is now empty of guaranteed money and a trade (or, highly unlikely, release) would save the Raiders $19 million against the cap. There’s a good chance that both sides get something done if Carr continues to play to his MVP-level. If not, there’s a chance that Rodgers could be in while Carr could be on a drive down and out of the Vegas strip.
There is a world in which Rodgers and the Packers run it back for one last time.
“Life’s been really good. … It’s been fun to have some new guys in the mix, new teammates, get to know some of the older ones a little bit better, to build those friendships. It’s been great to work with the staff,” Rodgers said recently. “I love the staff. They make things fun. They reinvent themselves every week.”
Following the Week 1 loss to the Saints, the Packers have been undefeated, and to make matters more interesting, they’re looking like legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
If the Packers win the Super Bowl, does Rodgers stay and try to win a third in Green Bay? Or is that the end of the chapter? What happens if the Packers get to another NFC Championship Game but falter?
Whatever the case is, Rodgers does have that contract with the Packers through 2022 with a void year in 2023. Maybe winning does cure everything — or maybe it’s just a deodorant. The rest of the season will tell which.
Rodgers was pretty candid in his desire to potentially retire prior to the start of the 2021 season. Would it surprise anyone if that urge bubbled up again following the 2021 season?
A lot depends on his desire to play, good fits and whether or not the Packers would be willing to play ball on moving Rodgers.
If not, then maybe Rodgers’ 17th year will turn out to be his last — both in Green bay and the NFL.