The future of disgruntled Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is uncertain as things move rapidly towards an inevitable fork in the road with training camp set to start on July 28. What has already been bubbling away since the NFL draft back on April 29 still rumbles on, and since then, the Denver Broncos have emerged as the most realistic remaining suitor for the 37-year-old reigning NFL MVP.
As it stands, Broncos incumbent Drew Lock and veteran Teddy Bridgewater will do battle for the starting job, but with Rodgers looming over them like an ominous cloud, it only brings further complications for both.
Before he announced his new partnership with ESPN to host a MegaCast alongside his brother Eli for 10 games of Monday Night Football this year, Peyton Manning weighed in with his expert opinion during a visit to the MLB All-Star game where he said that nobody wants to bring in a new QB during training camp because of the disruption it causes.
“At this point, you've got to kind of know what your plan is,” Manning told the MLB Network last week. "You can’t be having a new quarterback three weeks before the season.”
Under normal circumstances, that would be true, but Rodgers would provide such a seismic upgrade under center for any team that it's hard to believe, given the opportunity, Broncos GM George Paton wouldn’t hesitate to broker an 11th-hour deal. As is the case with nearly all trades, there tends to be no smoke without fire, and with Paton sitting on a golden goose egg of $28.8 million in salary-cap space, it’s not hard to put 2 + 2 together.
Should Paton back off from a potential blockbuster deal for Rodgers, it could leave him in a tight spot in terms of public relations. Opening himself up to the damaging double whammy of losing out on a generational QB, while at the same time leaving a stack of cash unused on the poker table, could be a risky proposition.
Ultimately, the first-year GM’s moves could reveal a Broncos roster full of youthful potential, but as it stands, the team is still glaringly short of an essential game-changing signal-caller.
Paton arrived in the Mile High City armed with a bold mission statement to be "in on every deal," but it’s entirely plausible that he has come to realize that every move he makes will be critiqued to the nth degree, which makes the GM's potentially big decision over Rodgers (if Green Bay relents to a trade) a very poisoned chalice indeed, and one which could potentially haunt him for years.
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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