There's been plenty of buzz this offseason when it comes to the quarterback market and certain signal-callers who may be moving on for one reason or another. So it's only fitting that Denver Broncos fans would fantasize over these veterans being on their team's roster.
Aaron Rodgers is no exception. Ever since the NFL draft, in the wake of Adam Schefter making public Rodgers' strong desire to get out of Green Bay, the talk has been about what might happen if the Broncos were to land the reigning MVP in a trade.
Only time will tell if the Packers trade Rodgers, and whether the Broncos will get him, but the issue is how much it will actually cost.
Many people have thrown out possible trade scenarios, but too many are looking at it as if the Broncos have to shoot for the moon as they would have for, say, Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you sell the farm to get Rodgers.
1. Rodgers Enters his Age-38 Season
On one hand, Rodgers won't come cheap. On the other hand, because of his age, he shouldn't command the asking price from the Packers that the Texans could command for Watson or the Seahawks could command for Wilson.
That's because, with Rodgers, you'll likely get five years at the most from him, whereas with Wilson, you could get 10, and with Watson, you could get 15 or more.
The more you get in return — meaning, the more years you are a playoff contender — the more it's worth giving up in a trade.
2. Packers Already Have Their QB of the Future
The Texans had no young QB they were grooming behind Watson — in fact, Watson was their young QB. Neither did the Seahawks have a young QB to groom behind Wilson. Thus, both teams would need a QB in a big way, putting them in a position to ask for more.
The Packers aren't in that situation, because they not only drafted Jordan Love in 2020, they traded up to get him. That sent the message that Love was going to be their guy at some point.
Green Bay may have wanted to wait until 2022, but the Broncos can still say, "You have a guy you're developing, so you don't need that many draft picks to find your next guy."
3. Rodgers Needs a Good Team Around Him
Though Rodgers is an elite QB, he's at the stage of his career in which he can't be asked to carry the team on his shoulders. Consequently, you need to have more young, quality players surrounding him.
That means a team needs to make sure they don't give up too much of their young talent to the Packers in a trade. You may have to give up one, or perhaps two, depending on their skill level, but think carefully before you give up former first-round picks.
What's Likely to be Included in a Trade?
If Watson and Wilson both command three first-round picks, you don't give up more than two for Rodgers. It's understandable you'd have to give up more than just a first-round pick, but three first is too much.
You aren't going to get the trade down to where, say, the Brett Favre trade was many years ago, because Favre had originally retired, then announced he actually wanted to play. The Packers had already moved forward with Rodgers as 'our guy,' so they simply wanted to move Favre for what they could get, as long as they didn't trade him within the division.
With Rodgers, it's true the Packers drafted Love, but they reportedly want to wait until 2022 to start him, and Rodgers doesn't agree with that. He has not retired (at least not yet), and he either wants a commitment from the Packers beyond 2021 or to be traded. It's not exactly comparable to Favre.
Therefore, two firsts are likely to be part of the package for Rodgers. Any picks beyond those two is where you need to be careful, and the picks you give up depends on other players you might send in a trade.
I do believe the Packers will want a veteran QB in return, so if the Broncos made the trade, Teddy Bridgewater makes sense. The Packers could still role with the plan to wait on starting Love until 2022, because Bridgewater would be an unrestricted free agent next year.
A Young Core Player
As for other players, you don't want to send away your recent first-round guys, meaning Bradley Chubb, Noah Fant, Jerry Jeudy, and Patrick Surtain II are out of the question.
However, you aren't going to be able to unload an older, more expensive player, because the Packers are going to want other young players to add to their core. Furthermore, any young players need to have at least two years left on their deals — in other words, don't count on the Packers taking players who are in the final year of their contracts.
With that in mind, here are the players more likely to be part of a trade package.
Dalton Risner: The selection of Quinn Meinerz means the Broncos could opt to deal Risner as part of a package. Of course, that means parting ways with a popular player, and the Broncos might want to keep Risner if they don't keep Graham Glasgow after 2021.
Dre'Mont Jones: It would be painful to give up Jones, considering how much he improved in 2020. However, if the Broncos acquire Rodgers, it's going to be hard to keep Jones, Risner, and Fant for the long term — somebody might have to be let go, especially if they all seek high-end contracts. Jones might be the best bet to include in a trade.
KJ Hamler: If the Packers want a wide receiver, Hamler would make the most sense. He has three years left on his rookie deal and, given that the Broncos have Jeudy in the 2020 class, may not be able to keep Hamler when his deal expires.'
Michael Ojemudia and Lloyd Cushenberry: You would likely have to package these two players together as part of a trade. Though they have the potential to improve, they didn't make much of an impact in 2020. Ojemudia is part of a crowded cornerback depth chart, while Cushenberry might not be kept with Meinerz in the fold.
Among the players listed above, I think it makes the most sense to include Jones. It would hurt to lose him, but he may be the player who would tempt the Packers the most, and the Broncos do have enough depth at the position to overcome his departure.
Would Denver Have to Include Another Draft Pick?
Possibly, but I'd make any additional picks conditional, but with the chance for the Packers to get more in return if the Broncos make a deep playoff run.
Let's try this idea: The Broncos could include fourth-round picks in 2022 and 2023, but they would move up a round depending on playoff performance. If the Broncos reach the AFC title game in a season, they send third-round picks instead, and if they reach the Super Bowl, they send second-round picks instead.
Making the picks conditional hedges the Broncos' bets a bit, while still ensuring the Packers get something in return if the Broncos make a deep playoff run in either 2021 or 2022.
If you think that's too much, include just the 2022 conditional pick, then send Ojemudia and Cushenberry, to give the Packers two more players to serve as potential building blocks.
The Final Offer
With all this in mind, should the Packers decide to trade Rodgers, here's the offer I'd want to work towards:
- 2022 and 2023 first-round picks
- QB Teddy Bridgewater
- DL Dre'Mont Jones
- 2022 conditional fourth-round pick, becomes a third if the Broncos reach the 2021 AFC title game, and becomes a second if the Broncos reach Super Bowl LVI.
And then include one of the following options:
- 2023 conditional fourth-round pick, becomes a third if the Broncos reach the 2022 AFC title game, and becomes a second if the Broncos reach Super Bowl LVII.
- CB Michael Ojemudia and C Lloyd Cushenberry.
If the Packers insist on three firsts, I say no and hold the line. Same thing if they want somebody like Chubb, Jeudy, or Fant. I want Chubb to be a key building block for the defense, and Fant and Jeudy are too valuable to give up when I want weapons for Rodgers.
If any trade does happen — and I wouldn't rule it out, given all the other times teams said "we aren't trading the player" and then traded him anyway — it's not going to happen until after June 1, so the Packers can spread out dead money charges from Rodgers' signing bonus.
This is a situation that bears watching, though. And while you'll have to give up plenty to get Rodgers, just be careful how much you do give up.
Follow Bob on Twitter @BobMorrisSports.
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