Now that the dust that Aaron Rodgers kicked up on Sunday has largely settled, here’s a summary of where things stand between Rodgers and the Packers.
He has three years left under contract, with no guaranteed money. This allows the team to treat the relationship as a year-to-year arrangement. Although the Packers are, as CEO Mark Murphy said this week, not idiots and will continue to embrace Rodgers for 2021, the contract makes it very easy to decide after the coming season or the next one to flip the switch to 2020 first-round quarterback Jordan Love.
As long as Rodgers continues to play at a ridiculously high level, the non-idiotic Packers will continue to not do idiotic things. If Rodgers slips in 2021 or 2022, however, the Packers could decide that it would be idiotic to not accelerate the rebuild/reload process and give Love a chance.
Rodgers knows that. And Rodgers, stunned by the team’s decision to trade up and draft a quarterback, knows that the far less stunning decision moving forward would be to promote the younger quarterback if/when it appears that the old gray quarterback ain’t what he used to be.
So Rodgers wants, above all else, clarity. Where do I stand? It’s a fair question for Rodgers to ask. Unlike his predecessor, Rodgers has never mused about retiring prematurely or playing for anyone other than the Packers. He has been loyal and faithful to the Packers. If they’re eventually not going to be loyal and faithful to him, he’d simply like to know that it’s coming, so that he can plan accordingly.
In the NFL, true clarity comes from a contractual commitment, or lack thereof. That’s why he wants a new deal. If he gets one, the structure would tie team to quarterback for at least two or three years. If he doesn’t get one, he’ll nevertheless have clarity regarding the team’s attitude.
Here’s the core question as it relates to Jordan Love: Is he Jimmy Garoppolo or is he Aaron Rodgers? In other words, is he the guy who will be traded elsewhere during the ongoing Hall of Fame career of Aaron Rodgers, or will he be the guy for whom the Packers eventually clear a space, like they did for Rodgers 11 years ago?
When he expressed uncertainty as to the futures of many players on the team and added the words “myself included,” Rodgers was encapsulating this sentiment. Am I merely keeping a seat warm for Jordan Love, or will Jordan Love eventually be flipped for draft assets or veteran players?
The Packers would prefer to have flexibility. Yes, it’s a no-brainer that they want Rodgers back in 2021. Will he play so well in 2021 that it will be a no-brainer in 2022? Ideally for the team, they’d have to ability to make that call after 2021.
At some level, the Packers like the fact that Love’s presence has helped push Rodgers to a higher level of performance. It’s probably one of the reasons why they drafted Love, and it’s a good reason to not give Rodgers the clarity he seeks. Still, Rodgers wants to know where he stands. He’s entitled to that. He’s too good and too accomplished — and he’s been far too loyal to the team — to merit anything less than a straight answer to a simple question.
How do I fit into the team’s plans over the next 3-5 years?