Last week we went over the depressing topic of Aaron Rodgers Trade Destinations – despite the overwhelming evidence that he wouldn’t request a trade. Today we’re going to look at what happens if Aaron Rodgers retires. Still depressing but maybe a little more likely. Let’s go over three different scenarios: run it back anyway, semi-rebuild, and scorched earth.
Run It Back Anyway
- Restructure as many players as possible to open up space
- Extend Adrian Amos, Jaire Alexander, Davante Adams, and Preston Smith
- Release Za’Darius Smith, Marcedes Lewis, Randall Cobb, maybe Mason Crosby
- Spend a first or second round pick on receiver/edge rusher
- Re-sign one of De’Vondre Campbell or Rasul Douglas
I have a feeling this is the route that Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur would prefer. Keep as many players as possible, extend your young defensive core, and even keep Davante Adams so that Jordan Love has a number 1 target.
This scenario allows the team to really evaluate Love. If he is a massive failure despite having most of Aaron Rodgers’ supporting cast, plus maybe even an extra first round receiver, it’s time to move on to plan B. Obviously, he could also play well and get the Packers to a 10-7 record and playoff birth.
We don’t know much about how well Jordan Love will play in the NFL. He has one real start that was extremely poorly game planned. With an entire offseason planning the offense around him and training him how to run it, he certainly could play like a top 15 QB next season. He has the talent.
Running it back has the highest potential for another good season out of the team, but it also has the highest failure potential. If Love is bad and the Joe Barry defense stays the same or gets worse, this could be a 4-13 team with five or six all-pro level players. If that happens, and the team is loaded up with massive cap hits for old players in 2023 and 2024, it’s not going to be pretty for a long time.
- Restructure key players who are part of the team’s core going forward
- Extend Adrian Amos, Jaire Alexander, and maybe Preston Smith
- Release Za’Darius Smith, Marcedes Lewis, Mason Crosby, Randall Cobb, Dean Lowry
- Don’t re-sign anyone
- Best player available with each draft pick
Semi-rebuild is probably the best-case scenario for Packers fans. You still get the opportunity to have a competitive team next year. You can clear off some cap this year to leave the team open for whatever it wants to do in 2023 and 2024. And you can use draft picks and maybe a little free agency to rebuild the receiving core around Love.
The defense would probably not be great. The offense would have a ceiling of 10th or 12th in DVOA. But the team would be able to stick in games and we’d still get a good look at what Jordan Love can do and probably have enough assets to move up for a better QB in the 2023 draft if necessary.
- Why restructure when you can release?
- Trade Jaire Alexander and Adrian Amos
- Don’t re-sign anyone
- Start Kurt Benkert or Blake Bortles at QB
- Draft CJ Stroud
Scorched earth is the Justis Mosqueda inspired full blown tank scenario. If the team has decided that Jordan Love isn’t going to cut it as an NFL QB, scorched earth might be the best way to quickly rebuild the team and get a premier QB.
Trading Jaire Alexander and Adrian Amos is probably the least likely part of this scenario, but remember, this is a full blown get the assets to trade up for the top QB in the draft operation. Even without Jaire Alexander and Amos and with a journeyman starting QB, I doubt the Packers would be the worst team in the league. They’ll need the picks to move up to number 1.
In addition to the trades, they would release basically everyone who isn’t signed on a good long-term deal, that means Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Marcedes Lewis, Dean Lowry, Mason Crosby, Randall Cobb, Billy Turner, Aaron Jones and not bring back any of the team’s free agents.
Of course, this wouldn’t happen. Tanking to this extent only happens in the NBA and on the Dolphins. If Rodgers chooses to retire, the team will likely cut ties with more players than it would have otherwise and would likely be wary of kicking the can down the road too much. But I doubt it’s gonna go full tank.
Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.