Could Aaron Rodgers’ days with the Green Bay Packers be truly coming to a close?
According to one long-time Packers observer, that is indeed the case.
New reporting from Bob McGinn holds that the Packers have all but moved on from Rodgers, and if the veteran quarterback is back in Green Bay next year, it would only be as the backup to Jordan Love. That might come as a surprise, but speculation continues to mount regarding Rodgers’ future.
And with the quarterback about to embark on four days in a dark room to come to a decision about his future, now is perhaps the ideal time to think about what could happen when he emerges from the darkness.
Here are seven options for Rodgers next season, ranked.
There is always the option that Rodgers decides to walk away from the game.
If, after a few days in darkness, he chooses the retirement path, is it that hard to believe that his next stop would be in a podcast studio?
Rodgers’ weekly appearances on the Pat McAfee Show became must-watch events in the football media space, and we have learned over the past few seasons that the quarterback has some rather interesting thoughts on life in general. He also recently made an appearance on an astrology podcast and talked about his own sign, as well as former teammate Davante Adams.
More on that later.
Still, if Rodgers could emerge from the darkness and decides to leave football behind, and become a podcaster like everyone else.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a difficult team to pin down as we enter the offseason. The departure of Tom Brady, and their difficult salary cap position, makes them a prime rebuild candidate. Given that it is unlikely — very unlikely — that Rodgers wants to be part of a rebuild, that would take the Buccaneers off the list.
However, they did make the playoffs last season, thanks in part to life in the NFC South. If the Buccaneers decide to piece things together for one more run, Rodgers could be the answer to their quarterback needs.
Still, there are two potential roadblocks, and they are big ones. First, it is hard to believe that the Packers would trade Rodgers to an NFC team — last month ESPN’s Adam Schefter posited that he did not think there was “any way” Green Bay would trade him within the conference — and the Buccaneers would make a lot of moves to get in compliance with the cap, moves that might make Tampa Bay a less desirable destination in the end.
5. Washington Commanders
The Commanders have a new offensive coordinator. On Friday afternoon, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that the organization was finalizing a deal with Eric Bieniemy to become their next assistant head coach/offensive coordinator.
Might Rodgers be the next quarterback Bieniemy gets to coach?
Again, there are a few sticking points. First, the idea that the Packers would trade Rodgers within the NFC. Second, the plan entering the offseason for Washington was to ride with second-year passer Sam Howell as their quarterback, given the failed Carson Wentz experiment.
But this is Rodgers we are talking about. Putting those plans on hold, even for a season, might be appealing to Washington.
The Commanders have talent on both sides of the ball. What was missing was consistency at the quarterback position. Rodgers certainly brings that to the table.
4. Tennessee Titans
It is time to leave the NFC behind, and start looking at options in the AFC.
The first option might just be the Tennessee Titans.
Tennessee does have an out under the terms of current quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s contract. The Titans could save $27 million in cap space if Tannehill is waived, or traded, after June 1st. While Tennessee drafted Malik Willis last season, they turned to Joshua Dobbs for their final game of the regular season, a must-win game against the Jacksonville Jaguars if they wanted to make the playoffs.
Beyond the potential need at quarterback in Tennessee, a fit between Rodgers and the Titans makes sense in some NFL circles. Recent reporting from The Athletic cites two NFL executives who point to the Titans as a destination for Rodgers, calling Tennessee “more his pace.”
And if you take a step back and look at the rest of the AFC South, while the Jaguars look competitive heading into 2023, both the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans will likely be starting rookie quarterbacks at some point during 2023, if not right away in Week 1. There might be a window for the Titans to make a quick turnaround in the division that is not plausible with some other potential AFC landing spots.
3. New York Jets
Speaking of which.
When we performed this exercise for Derek Carr, the New York Jets were listed as the top landing spot for his services.
Why are they only third for Rodgers?
Well, because there are two better options for him, at least from where I sit.
But still, the Jets are an intriguing landing spot for any quarterback this offseason. They were competent quarterback play away from a playoff spot — and maybe even more — last season, and the Jets have a ton of young talent on the roster. They have Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner on one side of the field, and Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson on the other.
And let’s not forget that Breece Hall was in the mix for that award himself before his injury at the end of October.
There is also the Nathaniel Hackett factor, given the previous relationship between the two during their time in Green Bay. Although, that did not exactly work for the Denver Broncos last offseason.
Would Rodgers want to head to the Big Apple? Would he want to play in the AFC East? Would he really follow the same path as his predecessor in Green Bay and play for the Jets after leaving the Packers?
Those are tougher questions to answer, and they open the door for two other options.
2. Green Bay Packers
I understand, the framing of this piece is that the Packers are ready to move on from Rodgers, and McGinn’s reporting holds that if he comes back to Green Bay it would be as a backup to Love. All of that makes the idea of Rodgers returning to Green Bay seem far-fetched.
But the reason why I think a return to Green Bay is plausible is this. During the NFL season I make a weekly radio appearance on Wisconsin airwaves, on the Bill Michaels Show, and each Wednesday we would talk about Rodgers, the Packers, and all things NFL. And as the season was winding down, and Green Bay was putting themselves back in the playoff mix, something started to click for the Packers, and in my mind as well.
Rodgers looked like he was having fun again.
And I remember telling Bill a few times that even if they ended up falling short of the playoffs, Rodgers’ newfound chemistry with the young receivers in Green Bay, including Christian Watson, might pay off in another way. Not with a playoff berth, but with giving Rodgers a reason to come back for one more year. He was having fun again, and getting on the same page with the young Packers receivers, and he now had proof of concept in front of him, for how it could all work in Green Bay.
How he could win another title for the Packers, surpassing Favre and matching Bart Starr.
I’m sticking to that theory for a little while longer.
1. Las Vegas Raiders
However, chemistry exists elsewhere for Rodgers, in Las Vegas with former teammate Davante Adams.
The Raiders do seem like the ideal landing spot, because faced with the prospects of playing Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs twice a season, as well as the Los Angeles Chargers and Justin Herbert, along with the Broncos and Sean Payton/Russell Wilson, a rookie that the Raiders could draft in the first round might keep Las Vegas chasing those three teams for the near future.
Rodgers and Adams reunited, however, makes it a much different discussion.
Still, is this the path Josh McDaniels prefers? We saw how his time in Denver saw Jay Cutler leave town, and now the first year of his Vegas residency ends with Carr leaving Sin City. Does McDaniels want to try it again with a third veteran, or is he looking for the rookie to draft and develop?