The chance that an Aaron Rodgers trade will happen this offseason seems to be higher than ever before. For the third straight offseason, speculations on Rodgers’ future in Green Bay and in the NFL are running rampant. Rodgers always wants the Packers and media to be on their toes, and he has surely succeeded.
His age is a small but inherent cause of the rumors. Rodgers turned 39 in December and is nearing the conventional quarterback expiration age of 40. Around this time in a signal caller’s career, retirement is a logical and historically probable option.
However, not many 39-year-old quarterbacks are so closely removed from two-straight MVP seasons. Though the Packers and Rodgers underwhelmed in 2023, Rodgers clearly hasn’t fallen off the cliff physically like Peyton Manning and Drew Brees did around this time in their career.
A breakup between Rodgers and the Packers has felt imminent for years, and this might finally be the offseason that it happens. If Rodgers chooses not to retire, there would certainly be several teams looking to get another year or two of above-average quarterback play from him.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Saturday that both the Packers and Rodgers understand there’s a “very real scenario” the future Hall of Famer will be traded this offseason. Though the Packers would eat a dead cap hit of about $40 million, it’s not that far off from the $31 million cap hit that comes with him on the team next season.
The idea is that if Rodgers were to be traded, Green Bay would essentially be paying an additional $9 million for draft picks and other potential assets. If the trade is going to happen, it will happen before the draft in April.
NFL insider Ian Rapoport, an even more reliable NFL source than Schefter, appeared on the Pat McAfee Show Monday and shared the sentiment that a Rodgers deal is on the table and being discussed. Rapoport said if the Packers were offered the right package, we could see a deal done sooner than later.
If a team were to trade for Rodgers, they’d better be prepared to take on his $110 million contract. If a team were to acquire Rodgers for the 2023-2024 season alone, they’d owe him an astounding $60 million in cash, by far the highest number in the NFL. Still, there’s almost always a way for teams to restructure contracts and move money around to make cap space.
What teams might go after Rodgers, and what could the Packers get in return?
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders are coming off a disappointing 6-11 season and have holes in the offensive line and defense, but they carry a slew of offensive weapons; none more important than Davante Adams.
Adams could be the key to drawing Rodgers to Las Vegas. Rodgers and Adams put up historically dominant numbers together in Green Bay. He’s the best receiver Rodgers has ever played with along with being a close friend. I have no doubt the presence of Adams alone could sway Rodgers to the desert.
Vegas is certainly moving on from Derek Carr, a move that would save them $30 million in cap space this year. That along with restructurings and other cap magic could squeeze in Rodgers’ guaranteed money.
The Raiders hold the seventh overall pick in the 2023 draft. If Vegas feels desperate enough, they might be willing to send this pick along with something like a fifth or sixth-round pick for Rodgers. The Raiders may very well use this luxurious top-10 pick to take one of the hyped rookie quarterback prospects in the upcoming draft, though.
Realistically, I think Green Bay would receive the 38th-overall pick, a fourth or fifth-round selection, and a high, conditional 2024 pick that would become valid if Rodgers were on the team for a second season.
It’s possible the Packers could ask for tight end Darren Waller in a trade like this as well. Green Bay has signed several veteran, proven tight ends in the recent past, including Jimmy Graham, Martellus Bennett, Jared Cook and Mercedes Lewis. Waller is 30 and coming off an injury-riddled season, but he was praised as a breakout star not long before then.
New York Jets
The Jets are a team that truly feel like they fit the cliched description of “a quarterback away.” New York was 7-4 at one point before losing six straight to finish 7-10. The list of quarterbacks that played for them this year, including during their highest points where they legitimately looked like a good team, features Joe Flacco, Zach Wilson and Mike White. It doesn’t get a lot worse than that.
The Jets hit a home run in their last draft class, netting them Sauce Gardner, already one of the best cornerbacks in the league, along with running back Breece Hall and receiver Garrett Wilson. Hall and Wilson looked like two of the top offensive rookies from the entire 2022 draft class last season.
In terms of weapons and defense, Rodgers would be upgrading in New York with the Jets. I think they instantly become a playoff team with 10-11 wins if they get something resembling even the 2023 version of Rodgers. Remember that the Jets beat the Packers 27-10 in Lambeau last year with Wilson throwing just 110 yards.
New York is in a weird spot with the 13th-overall pick. It might not be high enough to get one of the top quarterbacks in the draft that they fall in love with. The 13th pick, along with a late rounder and possibly a 2024 conditional second-round pick would be a great haul for the Packers.
I think the Jets’ second-round pick, along with a 2023 third and a 2024 conditional second along with a solid player makes sense as well.
The Jets would probably like to see their production with Rodgers at the helm, but underperforming yet talented and young receivers like Denzel Mims or Elijah Moore could be packaged in a deal for Rodgers as well.
The Commanders are another team with an exceptional foundation that is missing a competent quarterback. Washington went 8-8-1 and were in the playoff hunt at the end of the year while Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke played during the season. Rodgers is a monumental upgrade over both.
Washington saves $26 million even if they straight up cut Carson Wentz, allowing them to take on Rodgers’ contract a little easier.
Washington is right in the middle of the draft order with the 16th pick. A first-rounder in that area of the draft makes a lot of sense for Rodgers. Like the other deals, I’d expect the Packers to receive a conditional first or second-round pick in 2024 if he’s on that team for more than one year.
The Commanders have a solid defense and offensive line and great receiving weapons, featuring a dynamic trio of Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Jahan Dotson. It should be an attractive destination for Rodgers, should the Commanders pursue him. Incoming new ownership helps to make Washington more desirable as well. Plus, he gets to play Dallas twice a year.
I’d be a little surprised if the Packers get two first-round picks out of any deal involving Rodgers. If they can get a package like that from any team, it’s truly time to end the Rodgers era in Green Bay.——————