Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes are compared to one another a lot. They play with a similar style that is less "gunslinger" and more "calculated chaos," and it feels like the natural evolution of their position. Tom Brady may have all the rings, but Rodgers and Mahomes are the quarterbacks every other team is trying to find.
Where Rodgers and Mahomes become polar opposites is in the way their franchises treat them.
For almost his entire career, but especially over the last decade, the Green Bay Packers have slowly built a pretty convincing narrative that they straight up don’t give a crap that one of the single greatest talents in NFL history plays for their team.
Here are the Packers' last 10 first-round draft selections by position:
2012: Defensive end
2013: Defensive end
2016: Defensive tackle
2019: Defensive end, safety
As for 2017? They traded out of the first round and picked a cornerback in the second. Their only first-round offensive selection since 2012 has been Jordan Love, the quarterback they chose to eventually replace Rodgers.
I’d provide a list of the major free agent and/or trade acquisitions the Packers made to help Rodgers over the same period of time, but it’d just be that "footage not found" still from Arrested Development.
Stack on top of that the fact that the Packers kept Mike McCarthy around for about five seasons too long and consider their constant penchant for cutting players Rodgers wanted to keep, and it’s difficult to imagine the Green Bay front office as anything other than some combination of stupid, spiteful, and masochistic.
By contrast, here’s a breakdown of what the Chiefs have done for Patrick Mahomes in their first four offseasons with him as their starting quarterback:
2018: Looked at an offense that was top-10 in passing yards and points per game, and responded to the humiliating failure to be a cartoon video game offense by signing Sammy Watkins.
2019: Decided an offense with Tyreek Hill and Watkins wasn’t fast enough, traded up in the draft to select WR Mecole Hardman.
2020: Drafted RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round because Mahomes told them to.
2021: Watched their offensive line fail to protect their half-a-billion-dollar QB and let him get beaten half to death in an embarrassing Super Bowl molly-whopping. The Chiefs promptly signed guard Joe Thuney, pulled guard Kyle Long out of retirement, tried and failed to sign tackle Trent Williams and responded to that by trading their first-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for tackle Orlando Brown, Jr., and then used second-round and sixth-round picks on a center and a guard.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Rodgers looks out on an NFL landscape where teams are doing everything they can to make their franchise quarterbacks' jobs easier and thinks perhaps retirement, Jeopardy! hosting, and being Shailene Woodley's husband on red carpets is a better use of his time.
But that can’t happen. Robbing the world of at least one Mahomes v. Rodgers primetime showdown would be hellish. Rodgers is coming off an MVP season. Mahomes is coming off a second-consecutive Super Bowl appearance. The Chiefs are supposed to play the Packers in their stupid bonus 17th regular-season game. We’ve already had one Mahomes vs. Rodgers game stolen from us because Mahomes's kneecap was on the other side of his leg. Now the next one might be Mahomes running laps around Jordan Love because the Packers negged one of the all-time great quarterbacks into an early retirement? Sheesh.
It doesn’t even have to be the Packers. We got used to Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady wearing unnatural colors. We can get used to Rodgers outside of green and yellow. Since the Packers are so clearly unwilling to be anything other than complete jackasses, they need to trade Rodgers. If only for the sake of good football.
Now, I do realize I’m monkey’s paw-ing the Chiefs pretty hard, here. I’m fully aware that if Green Bay does ship him anywhere it’s going to be Las Vegas or Denver, because even when the Chiefs finally slip into a timeline where everything is easy, it can't be easy.
A lot of me would hate it. I’d hate seeing my pre-Mahomes favorite player in NFL history wearing a Raiders or Broncos jersey. I’d hate having Rodgers in the Chiefs' path to the division title every year.
But it’d be undeniably great for the NFL, and ultimately it’d be great for Mahomes and the Chiefs. The one thing Brady didn’t have during his exhaustingly dynastic Patriots run was any real competition. Mahomes and the Chiefs coming out of an AFC West that features Justin Herbert and Aaron bleeping Rodgers every year would be some pretty sturdy additions to Mahomes' GOAT legacy that has a Super Bowl foundation that's been pretty thoroughly cracked by Tompa Bay.
So put Rodgers in the AFC West, I don’t care. I mean, I care. I care a lot, actually. And it'd suck, but it'd also be great TV. A world where Rodgers becomes one of the Chiefs' archenemies is better than a world where Rodgers can still play football but chooses not to.