The Green Bay Packers are approaching a threshold at the quarterback position. Packers fans, especially on Twitter, have seemingly already turned over the reins to Jordan Love and are ready to cast aside Aaron Rodgers. For the Green Bay Packers, the team has to make sure they don’t overlook what’s in front of them at the moment while salivating over what’s to come.
The discrepancy between opinions surrounding the back-to-back reigning MVP of the NFL this season has been warranted. Going into Week 13, the Packers (4-8) have dug themselves into a mighty hole. Potentially making the playoffs is no longer as simple as winning the final five games of the season. However, how many of the Packers’ failures this season can be attributed to Rodgers?
On one side of the coin, Rodgers’ stats this season have again matched up with some of the league’s best. For a quarterback who once pridefully claimed ‘down years for me are career years for most QBs,’ that’s certainly held true again this year.
Rodgers currently ranks 10th in the league with 2,682 passing yards and ranks fourth in the league with 21 passing touchdowns. The number of interceptions this season have been uncharacteristic for Rodgers while also having a 64.8 completion percentage.
On the other side of the coin, many people analyzing the Packers this season have noticed what appears to be a disconnect in the desire for the offensive scheme that’s wanting to be run between head coach Matt LaFleur and Rodgers. This was admitted by Rodgers while on “The Pat McAfee Show” following the Packers’ loss to the New York Giants where he said the following:
“Matt [LaFleur] had an idea about a play, and I had an idea about a play,” Rodgers said. “I liked both plays and basically said, ‘Hey, whatever one you think,’ and jogged back out there to give reminders to the guys, and we called the play that I was leaning towards.”
Rationally, getting input from your 38-year-old quarterback shouldn’t be knocked as a bad decision. The issue lies in the fact that Rodgers has suggested simplifying the offense and cutting down on the pre-snap motions, a tool heavily used in LaFleur’s scheme. A bulk of LaFleur’s scheme is being able to get players in various skill-based mismatches in order to take advantage of the coverage.
Under command of Love following Rodgers’ exit during Sunday night’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Packers fans got to see a crystal clear look at what LaFleur’s scheme can be without outside input. The Packers also got a potential look at the future of the franchise with Love connecting with rookie Christian Watson for a 63-yard catch-and-run touchdown. However, the Packers and its fanbase can’t get too ahead of themselves.
The reality needed to be grasped is the fact that Rodgers will return in 2023. After signing a three-year extension in March worth more than $150 million, Rodgers holds the keys to his future. The contract essentially is a one-year deal with the other two years tacked on if he decides to return in 2023, which is where the issue lies for the Packers.
If the Packers were to cut Rodgers after June 1, they would be left with a $75.3 million dead cap hit in 2023 and another $24.5 million in dead cap for 2024, according to Over The Cap. If the Packers cut him before June 1, they would be left with $99.8 million in dead cap for 2023. Saying the Packers were to trade Rodgers this offseason, it would cost the team well over $65 million in cap space for next season and another over $27 million in 2024.
What’s the end all be all of this conversation? Rodgers will be back in 2023, and rightfully so. Given the amount of young talent on the offensive side of the ball, why would it make sense for Rodgers to re-sign only to play one season with the new players?
The Packers will need to prepare for next season, and the remainder of this season, with the mindset that Rodgers will be back next season and ready to make another run. With five games to go this season as well, Packers fans should return their focus to the present. If the Packers are eliminated from the playoffs, they can still have their wish granted of seeing Love get more starts under his belt for the time being.
At the end of the day, the Green Bay Packers put Rodgers’ future into his hands, and it’ll be a tough look if the team attempts to take it back.——————
Kole Noble is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in North Carolina and is a huge NFL Draft nut. You can follow him on twitter at @SlawSportsShow.