It’s one thing for a hack like me to say it. It’s quite another for a former Packers player and incoming Pro Football Hall of Famer to say it.
“I think it’s one of those situations where, you know, there’s all this talk swirling around between him and Green Bay,” Woodson said. “And I think it could be one of those situations where it gets nasty at some point, somehow in the back and forth between the Packers and Aaron’s agents and then before you know it somehow the thing gets blown up. I mean, I certainly hope that doesn’t happen, but you know where there’s smoke there’s fire.”
Woodson also realized that it’s not uncommon for a great player to leave. He believes that Rodgers, like other great players before him, eventually will end up elsewhere.
“You think about over the years the great players that have played most of their careers in one place and then gone on to play somewhere else. Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, myself — I left twice,” Woodson said. “At some point, the team is gonna start looking to the future.”
Woodson, referring to the decision in 2020 to use a first-round pick on quarterback Jordan Love, said that “it is looking to the future.”
“I know that [Rodgers] had to be thinking, ‘Bring me somebody in here that’s gonna help me immediately, you know not somebody that has to sit behind me for the next two or three years or whatever it is. So I think he ends up ending his career in another place,” Woodson said.
The question is when. And the Packers, by not restructuring Rodgers’ contract, retain the ability to make a decision on Rodgers one year at a time. A significant restructuring or an extension to a deal that pays him the same annual amount as Jared Goff and Carson Wentz would tie Rodgers to the team for at least two more seasons.
The Packers didn’t squander their chance to use last year’s first-round pick and fourth-round pick (they packaged both to move up and get Love) on players who could have helped the Packers get to and win Super Bowl LV for a player they intend to sit for three years and then flip to another team, Jimmy Garoppolo style. They made the move with an eye toward moving on, at some point.
If anything, the fact that they opted to abandon the annual mantra from every NFL team (“our goal is to win the Super Bowl“) for a player who did nothing to help that cause in 2020 and who ostensibly will eventually take the baton from Rodgers the same way he took it from Brett Favre could make them more determined to prove that they did the right thing. They do that by at some point giving the starting job to Jordan Love.
As explained earlier this week on PFT Live, that’s the core of the current contractual conundrum. The Packers want to be able to decide in 2022 between Rodgers and Love and then again in 2023, if they choose Rodgers based on the next season. Rodgers wants something more than a year-to-year arrangement.
Until he gets one, anything he says that characterizes his future as a “beautiful mystery” or whatever is accurate. The Packers want the power to pick Love over Rodgers after the 2021 season. If they don’t change Rodgers’ contract, it will be easier to make that choice, if they choose to do so.