As the Packers and pretty much everyone else not named Aaron Rodgers try to figure out what Aaron Rodgers will do in 2021, there’s one specific possibility that must be considered.
Rodgers could retire for 2021, and then unretire for 2022.
This isn’t a report or an educated guess or anything meant to indicate what Rodgers actually will do. No one knows what he will do. In the absence of any information about his intentions, speculation will happen, both internally and externally. And one possibility on the radar screen consists of Rodgers walking away from the game in 2021 and then, after the Packers have moved on with Jordan Love or someone else in 2021 and have a plan in place for 2022, returning to it.
It would force their hand, the same way Brett Favre’s return in 2008 did, months after he retired and the Packers pivoted to Rodgers — and drafted Brian Brohm in round two and Matt Flynn in round seven.
Presumably, the Packers would give Jordan Love the chance to become the guy they thought he’d be when they traded up in 2020 to draft him, late in round one. Based on his performance in 2021, the Packers either would be fine with Love or they will have made other plans, through free agency, a trade, or the draft.
From Rodgers’ perspective, the timing of a return would become critical. If he shows up too early, the Packers quite possibly would welcome him back. Beyond a certain point, they won’t want to reinstate his $14.7 million salary, his cap charge, his roster spot.
Rodgers also would be wise not to wait too long. He’ll need a team that will upend its own plans for quarterback in 2022, unless of course there’s a predetermined destination that is unofficially identified, through unofficial communications that technically would constitute tampering.
If, as it appears, Rodgers won’t play for the Packers again and if, as it appears, the Packers won’t be trading him, quitting the game and then coming back once the Packers would be inclined to trade Rodgers becomes a viable option. For now, it’s a potential outcome that can’t be ignored.