In the last weekend before the start of a training camp filled with more uncertainty than many Green Bay Packers fans can remember, speculation of the 2021 season being coined “the last dance” swirled across Twitter after Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams posted the same picture of Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen on their respective Instagram stories.
The cryptic photo was taken from the promo video for The Last Dance documentary, which covered the peaks and valleys of the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty.
Most notably, the documentary showed the dynasty’s ugly ending, which saw both Jordan and Pippen leave the organization after their title run in 1997.
The post appeared fitting as, metaphorically, Rodgers is Jordan and Adams is Pippen in the Packers organization, and both are rifting with the front office.
Rodgers’ displeasure with the Packers – like Jordan’s displeasure with the Bulls — is well known.
But only recently have reports surfaced about Adams’ frustrations with the brass in negotiating a new contract.
Knowing this, it was easy for fans to literally put two and two together and draw a speculative conclusion from the posts.
Now a day before training camp begins, fans are left to wonder not only if Rodgers plans to show up to camp, but if this is “the last dance” for the Green Bay Packers, and what that could mean.
Looking ahead to the Packers’ 2022 free agents, there is a group of core players who could leave after this season.
The ball would be set in motion by trading Rodgers after this season.
It seems more and more likely that this is the quarterback’s last campaign in a Packers uniform after he declined significant contract extensions, signalling his issue isn’t about money and that the relationship could be irreparable.
Trading Rodgers would also net over $22.6M in savings toward the cap next offseason, which could resemble this offseason and the cap crunch it entailed.
If Rodgers is moved, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Davante Adams – who is entering the last year of his contract — not re-sign, especially if he feels disrespected by the organization not wanting to make him the highest-paid receiver in football.
Last season, the Cardinals made DeAndre Hopkins the highest-paid receiver in the league with a two-year extension that carries a $27.2M average salary.
Although Adams certainly deserves to be the highest-paid pass-catcher, not re-signing him would save a lot of money.
The departure of the organization’s Jordan and Pippen could trickle down to the other players entering the last year of their contracts.
Say what you want about the inconsistencies between MVS and King, but they have both been key cogs in the Packers’ recent success.
King is, presumably, playing his final season in Green Bay anyway, but his departure would only further point to the end of an era.
Releasing the veterans would net $12.5M and $4.1M in cap savings, respectively.
If the offseason did pan out like this, there would still be reason for optimism.
Beginning with the quarterback, the Packers would be fielding a young, former first-round pick in Jordan Love who would’ve sat for two full seasons behind a Hall of Famer.
Love has already shown growth and would be protected by one of the best lines in football and supported by one of the best rushing attacks in the league.
Other veterans on the roster would prevent any young players from being thrust into a spot that is too big for them.
Change is never easy, especially when you’re talking about franchise cornerstones. But the reality in sports is change is bound to happen, no matter how good things are going – as evident by the Chicago Bulls.
A lot has changed in recent memory for the Packers: A new regime, a young quarterback waiting in the wings, and the departure of legends like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones and Clay Matthews.
But the transitions between eras have blended about as smooth as one could hope. A rebuild hasn’t been a part of the conversation in decades and that will continue to be the case.
I hope the 2021 season isn’t “the last dance” as much as any other fan, but I’m also optimistic the Packers will be in a position to make a rather quick transition back into contention if it is.
Packers fans can only hope our last dance ends the same as the Bulls’ did: with another Super Bowl banner to hang at Lambeau Field.——————
Joshua Frey-Sam is a journalism student and aspiring sportscaster hailing from Winnipeg, Canada. A Packers fan since 2005, Josh has worked to master the financial and scouting aspect of the NFL over the past few years. Josh remains a firm believer that Dez did not, in fact, catch the ball. You can follow him on twitter at @jfreysam.