All eyes are on the Packers, as their annual mandatory minicamp approaches. The prevailing question is whether quarterback Aaron Rodgers will, or won’t, be there.
As recently mentioned, showing up for mandatory minicamp doesn’t guarantee he’ll be present for training camp. But showing up would go a long way toward quieting things down in advance of the much more pressing question that will be answered late next month.
Most would bet against him attending. However, to the extent he’s concerned about winning the hearts and minds of the Cheeseheads, failing to attend the mandatory minicamp would become the first truly overt act that would get some of them up in arms. And the recent comments from CEO Mark Murphy seemed to have been crafted to highlight the fact that plenty of Packers fans already are pissed off at Rodgers.
Although I disagree with the notion that the situation has morphed into a full-blown, red state/blue state issue for the partisans of the green and gold, Murphy’s gratuitous remark regarding a divided fan base seems to be a warning to Rodgers about what will happen if he fails to report for mandatory minicamp or training camp. And the reality continues to be that Rodgers, who has a well-earned reputation for sensitivity, doesn’t want the fans to turn on him — fully or partially.
For that reason, Murphy’s latest comments could make Rodgers even more upset, and possibly strengthen his resolve.
Peter King suggested in his latest edition of Football Morning in America that the Packers should offer to trade Rodgers in March 2022 if he returns for one more season. It makes a ton of sense. It’s reasonable. It’s logical. It’s practical.
But it’s also possibly too late.
The Packers, who’ll likely get more if they trade Rodgers next year than if they trade him now, have no reason to budge. Rodgers, who wants out now, arguably would see no benefit to applying a one-season Band-Aid to a limb that inevitably will be amputated.
Then there’s the question of whether the Packers even want him to play this year. Not the players or the coaches, but the people who pull the strings and count the beans. If Rodgers is going to be traded in March 2022 whether he plays or doesn’t, it’s arguably in the best interests of the corporation for: (1) Rodgers to hold out or retire in 2021; (2) the Packers to pick up and/or save more than $30 million in cash and cap space; (3) Jordan Love to get a year of experience before before becoming the official successor to Rodgers; and (4) Rodgers to not have a chance to win a Super Bowl with a team like the Broncos or Raiders.
If the Packers will be looking at Love as their starter in 2022, why not let him get started now? The team will be better off next year if Love plays this year. The $30 million can be used to acquire new players and/or to pay current ones. And if Rodgers doesn’t play at all in 2021, there will be no injury that could undermine his trade value in March.
Neither Packers CEO Mark Murphy nor G.M. Brian Gutekunst nor anyone else with the team would ever admit that they prefer that Rodgers stay away. Given that, if Rodgers stays away with three years left on his contract, it’s far more likely that the fans will get behind the laundry, as fans so often do, the Packers could end up much better off if he decides to stay away.
If so, that would make Murphy’s recent comments that would tend to inflame the situation not an unforced error but a genius maneuver.