What’s Next for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers?
The NFL offseason is in full swing. Free agents have been signed, and the draft has concluded. But with every new move a team decides to make, comes a new question. This holds true for one NFL team in particular, the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay has had a peculiar offseason to say the least. They lost linebackers Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell in free agency, along with tackle Bryan Bulaga and receiver Geronimo Allison. Those weren’t necessarily the strange moves however. NFL teams lose players all the time. Franchises can just look to find replacements through the draft. Green Bay had other plans however.
Going into the NFL draft, the Packers had two clear needs. The first being to get quarterback Aaron Rodgers some receiving help. The second, was to find a replacement at the tackle position. Let’s just say Green Bay had other ideas.
Instead of drafting a wide receiver in the first round, Green Bay decided to trade up to select developmental quarterback Jordan Love. Scouts were split on where Love should be drafted. Some thought Love was a first round talent, while others saw him as a third to fourth round pick. The questions were fair considering Love threw the most interceptions in college last season (17). That didn’t stop the Packers from giving up picks to move up for him however.
While selecting a quarterback in the first round was a confusing move, it was one that could be reconciled if the Packers hit on the rest of their picks. I mean after all, the Packers did draft Aaron Rodgers in the first round when they still had Brett Favre, and look at how that turned out.
However, the Packers continued to make questionable moves the rest of the draft.
In the second round, Green Bay selected Boston College running back AJ Dillon. It’s already somewhat odd to select a running back who had such a high workload in college (845 carries over three seasons) that high in the draft; but to do it when running back isn’t a top need makes it that much more baffling.
Some could argue that running back Aaron Jones was the Packers best player last season. He led the NFL in rushing touchdowns, and had over 1000 yards. Jones also contributed in the passing game by having over 400 yards receiving, and 3 receiving touchdowns. Green Bay also has Jamaal Williams who is a solid number two back. Last season Williams had over 700 total yards, and scored 6 total touchdowns. None of this prevented the Packers from selecting Dillon however.
As the draft went on, perhaps the biggest shock kept happening. Green Bay kept passing on receivers. When the draft was all said and done, the Packers didn’t select a single wide receiver. In a historically deep class, one that had some saying it was the best receiver class ever, the move to not select a single weapon for Rodgers was absurd. It was a move that could possibly spell the end of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.
Last season, not a single player on Green Bay’s roster had a 1000 receiving yards. The highest total was Davante Adams, who just nearly missed the mark with 997 yards in 12 games played. Adams has proved to be Rodgers only reliable target the past few seasons; considering the next highest receiving total last season came from undrafted Allen Lazard, who accumulated 477 yards in 16 games. After Adams, the player with the second most receptions on the team wasn’t even a receiver, it was Aaron Jones. The Packers biggest need was receiver, yet Green Bay decided to select players at perhaps the two strongest positions on the roster (QB and RB).
Moves like this, while shocking, shouldn’t come as a surprise to Rodgers. Since he was drafted in 2005, the Packers haven’t selected a skill position player (WR, TE, RB, QB) in the first round until selecting Love in this past draft. Throughout the course of his career, Rodgers has only thrown one touchdown pass to a first round pick. Now that’s not to say that Rodgers has never had weapons. Green Bay has had players like Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, and Davante Adams, but none of those players were first round selections. When drafting a player in the first round, you not only expect that player to be a starter, but you expect him to become a star. Instead of focusing on finding first round stars for Rodgers, the Packers have continuously hoped that later round picks would suffice. In the past that may have worked; but lately it may be enough to push Rodgers over the edge.
Brett Favre, who has a little bit of experience in situations like this, said on the Rich Eisen Show that he believes Rodgers will eventually play elsewhere. Who can blame him for thinking that. Green Bay is sending the message that Rodgers doesn’t run the show, they do. Rodgers may play it cool if things run smoothly this season. But what if Davante Adams gets injured again. Who’s left? That’s when Rodgers could say he’s had enough.
A trade this season would be all but impossible, due to a cap hit of $29.5 million if Rodgers isn’t on the roster pre-June 1st. However, a trade next season would be possible. The Packers could save $22 million in cap space, however there would still be some dead cap charges which could be spread out. The next question when it comes to a Rodgers trade is compensation. How much would a team give up for a then 37 year old QB? Would the Packers receive what they feel as fair value for Rodgers? I believe they would.
Rodgers has shown he’s still able to perform at a high level. He has also shown that he can perform without the quality of weapons other QBs have at their disposal. If this season doesn’t go smoothly, this is a reality which could soon pan out. Green Bay drafted Love for a reason. Eventually, they believe he will be the guy; that just might be sooner rather than later depending on how Aaron Rodgers feels.