The cat is out of the bag. Aaron Rodgers wants out of Green Bay.
There’s a poetry, and potentially a significant amount of orchestration, that has gone into Rodgers using the first day of the draft to make his power play. Indeed, it was last year on the first night of the draft that the Packers sent Rodgers four fingers deep in tequila after packaging a first-round pick and a fourth-round sweetener to trade up for Jordan Love.
Rodgers, as we’ve reported, has a wish list. It remains the 49ers, the Broncos, and the Raiders. So what if the Packers continue to refuse to trade him?
Rodgers has leverage. He can do what Deshaun Watson did in Houston, before the legal issues arose. Rodgers can make it known that he’s done, allowing the Packers to come to terms with the reality that they can either trade him and get value or have him never show up again — and get nothing and like it.
It wouldn’t be an inexpensive proposition for Rodgers. He has $23 million in unearned signing bonus money that he’d owe the Packers, and he’d also give up $14.7 million in 2021 salary. Also, his recent roster bonus of $6.8 million surely would be forfeited if he walks away from the game in the event that he doesn’t get traded.
The Packers have other leverage. They have Jordan Love; thus, they wouldn’t be left holding the bag with no quarterback. Also, as Rodgers gets closer to the end of his career, would he really give up one of his remaining seasons to prove a point?
Then there’s the possibility that Rodgers becomes a pariah among Packers fans. Although he has yet to address the situation, he’s likely to act like it’s all overblown and overplayed and overhyped when he does, downplaying the aftermath of the fuse he deliberately ignited. He does not want to be vilified by the Green Bay faithful. Thursday’s events could set him up for a backlash. Quitting on the Packers could make it even worse.
Before any of that becomes relevant, the Packers will have to persist in their refusal to trade him, either during the draft or as a post-June 2 transaction, which would significantly reduce the cap charge. However it plays out, the situation quickly has gone from dormant to full boil.
And even though he’d undoubtedly deny it, Rodgers surely loves every second of it. He’s finally getting his revenge, in a move that carries with equal parts Godfather and #GameofThrones.