Aaron Rodgers’ future with the Green Bay Packers, or continuing his career in the NFL at all, has become an annual discussion topic. Naturally, it came up again last night after Green Bay ended its season and failed to qualify for the playoffs with a loss to the Detroit Lions.
Rodgers’ future was further called into question when he declined to give away his game jersey following the loss. Tea-leaves readers wondered what that said about the quarterback’s mindset. If there was online sports betting on Rodgers future, where would the odds lean?
When questioned post-game, Rodgers took on the subject at length and with emotion but wasn’t definitive.
What Rodgers did make clear was that there were many factors to be considered, including what the Packers’ plans might be.
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Green Bay’s plans must take into consideration backup quarterback Jordan Love, their first-round draft pick from 2020. Love got a four-year contract as a rookie with nearly $12.4 million guaranteed over four years. While it reads like a lot of money, everyone involved — the Packers, Rodgers, Love — clearly understand that Love’s next deal will be his first starting quarterback-level contract, and that would be in the ballpark of $20 million a year, possibly in 2024, depending on his team.
The Packers do have the opportunity of exercising a fifth-year option on Love that likely would pay him the annual salary mentioned above, but that’s not the long-term deal that Love reasonably would seek.
For his part, Love has not dismissed asking for a trade this offseason as he looks ahead to his fourth year.
Getting back to Rodgers, he is a sophisticated thinker, and while everyone might not agree with his conclusions in all instances, he does give great examination to important decisions.
Rodgers’ current contract calls for $60 million guaranteed in 2023. That gives him a lot of leverage.
If the Packers want to trade him, the new team is looking at a $60 million check. Would Rodgers be amenable to taking less somehow from a new team? Not unless there was a very strong possibility of a Super Bowl in the offing.
Clearly, he doesn’t have to burnish his legacy. Rodgers has four league MVPs and led the Packers to a Super Bowl win following the 2010 season and the game MVP. But accomplishment is also a personal driver for the 39-year-old Rodgers.
For instance, Rodgers created a sense of destiny for his team late in the 2022 season when he discussed how the Packers, left for dead after going 4-8 late in November, still could make the playoffs if they ran the table and got some help. That implausible scenario was sitting there for the Packers to fulfill with a “win-and-in” game Sunday night against Detroit. Rodgers’ final pass was an interception with 3:27 left. The 20-16 loss to the Lions made Rodgers’ post-game contemplation on his future that much more wrenching.
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What if Rodgers Plays for Another Team?
If left to inertia, meaning Rodgers stays with the Packers, Green Bay owes him $60 million for 2023 with a decision on Love on the table.
As far as a new team is concerned, San Francisco leaps to mind, because the 49ers were good enough to win 13 games and make the playoffs in 2022 while going through three starting QBs, and Rodgers grew up in Northern California and went to Cal-Berkeley.
There will be some speculation about the Las Vegas Raiders because that franchise has been known for splashy personnel moves and it would reunite Rodgers with one of his favorite receivers, Davante Adams.
Or there might be something else in the works behind-the-scenes that offers Rodgers a post-playing career that extends his celebrity and wealth and personal satisfaction later into his life. His credible stint as the host of game show Jeopardy illustrated he has a solid on-camera presence that transcends just chatting about sports. Rodgers also happens to be a Celebrity Jeopardy winner. In that regard, consider former defensive lineman Michael Strahan’s successful post-NFL trajectory.
And a possibility that rarely comes up but can’t be dismissed is politics. Rodgers has said he dislikes politics in general but has not held back voicing opinions on hot-button issues. While not pigeon-holing himself in terms of party preference, Rodgers has publicly articulated points of view that appear to lean libertarian so, as usual with Rodgers, it would be a guessing-game and either major party would have some heavy selling to do. But if Rodgers does go for elected office, he’s looking at a huge pay cut.