GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers is unhappy. Davante Adams is unhappy. With veterans set to report to training camp on Tuesday, the Green Bay Packers appear to be a team on the cusp of disintegration after back-to-back losses in the NFC Championship Game.
Perhaps, though, the Packers can reload rather than crumble.
Let’s start with the MVP quarterback. What if Rodgers announced his retirement during Monday’s shareholders meeting? Retirement is the big trump card in his showdown with the team. Rodgers can ask for a trade. He can demand it while stomping his feet and pounding his fists. But general manager Brian Gutekunst doesn’t have to comply.
Retirement, however, is a whole other kettle of fish. If Rodgers through agent David Dunn were to deliver a trade-or-retire ultimatum, the ball would be thrown in the court of Gutekunst and team President Mark Murphy. Would they play hardball to avoid precedent and the appearance of being bullied by one of the faces of the NFL? Or would they back down for the long-term good of the team, figuring it’s better to get assets in a trade than to let Rodgers quit and get nothing in return?
“If it’s truly irreparable, you trade him,” one team’s high-ranking executive said. “You have to maintain the position that no one is above the team. You don’t put yourself in this position but, since you’re here, now you have to make a move.”
If Rodgers were to retire, the executive said he’d be on the phone ASAP if he were Gutekunst. The Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders are considered the most likely suitors if Rodgers were to go on the trade market. The Broncos have a high-quality team lacking even a mediocre-quality quarterback. The Raiders have gone nowhere with quarterback Derek Carr, with just one winning season in his seven years as the starter.
Taking the position of Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, the executive said he’d give the Packers two first-round picks and Carr in a trade for Rodgers. Interestingly, Carr was Adams’ quarterback at Fresno State and has spoken publicly about the Raiders making a push for Adams after this season.
Rodgers Will Face Rookie Starters in Lions’ Secondary
"Welcome to the NFL," Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said of rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu making his first start against Aaron Rodgers on Monday.
Packers-Lions Injury Report: Savage Practices Again
For the most part, the injury reports were unchanged for the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions on Friday.
New OLB Followed in Footsteps of Legendary ‘Mean Joe’ Greene
The Green Bay Packers plucked Ladarius Hamilton off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practice squad to fill Za'Darius Smith's spot on the roster.
Or, the Packers could keep a retired Rodgers through 2021 and trade him in 2022. However, after sitting out a year and being 38 going on 39, the executive said Rodgers wouldn’t be worth as much in a trade.
Another executive noted that the retire-or-trade ultimatum would give Rodgers all the control over the situation, and that would mean the Packers might simply have to accept less than they would have had they made a deal during the draft or even last month.
“He’s got them by the (word deleted),” that executive said.
The best guess from both executives is the trade-or-retire strategy is the one Rodgers will employ at the last minute to create maximum impact.
“Who knows, though? We’re all just guessing, right?” the second executive said.
Now, let’s turn to the All-Pro receiver. If the Packers can’t sign Adams to an extension, the executives agreed the team likely would use the franchise tag on Adams next offseason and then trade him. The executive said he’d offer a deal similar to what the Buffalo Bills gave up to get Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings before the 2020 draft. In that deal, the Bills got Diggs and a seventh-round pick in exchange for first-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-round picks. Adams and Diggs are among the NFL’s premier receivers; Diggs is one year younger.
All told, the Packers could spin Adams and Rodgers for three first-round picks, a competent quarterback in Carr to provide some insurance behind Jordan Love, and picks in the fourth through sixth rounds. Moreover, the Packers would be awash in cap space for 2022. Rodgers has cap charges of $37.2 million in 2021, $39.9 million in 2022 and $28.4 million in 2023 compared to $22.1 million in 2021 and $19.9 million for Carr in 2022.
To be sure, the Packers are a better team with Rodgers and Adams, but the draft picks and cap space – if used wisely – could help put Love in a strong position in 2022 and beyond.