As if draft day wasn’t chaotic enough. Mere hours prior to the start of the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Aaron Rodgers has told individuals inside the Green Bay Packers organization that he doesn’t wish to return to the team.
Following the first round, during which the Packers selected a defensive player for a ninth time since 2012, Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters flat out “we are not going to trade” the three-time MVP.
“I’m not going to speak for Aaron, but I think obviously we have a really good team and I do think he’ll play for us again,” Gutekunst said. “Like I said, we’re going to work toward that and we’ve been working toward that on a number of different fronts. The value that he adds to our football is really immeasurable, you know what I mean? He brings so much to the table not only as a player but as a leader. He’s so important to his teammates, to his coaches, so yeah, that’s the goal.”
Rodgers had longed for his team to select additional offensive weapons in the first round of the draft because they had gone defence heavy in first rounds for the duration of his time as starter. The team traded up in 2020 to take another quarterback, Jordan Love, who will one day serve as Rodgers’ replacement.
“I certainly look back to last year’s draft and just kind of, maybe some of the communication issues we could have done better,” Gutekunst added. “There’s no doubt about it. The draft’s an interesting thing. It can kind of unfold differently than you think it’s going to unfold and it happens pretty fast. But certainly I think looking back on it sitting where we sit today there could have been some communication things we did better.”
Rodgers signed a four-year contract extension worth $134 million in August of 2018 and he’s coming off a career-best 48-touchdown season.
Trading a player of that stature is complicated and a trade involving Rodgers specifically likely wouldn’t take place until after June 1 – at least from a financial perspective it would benefit the Packers to wait.
Pro Football Talk reported Thursday Rodgers’s three preferred destinations were the 49ers, Broncos or Raiders. Rodgers is from California and reportedly would want to play on the west coast.
There were multiple reports Thursday evening suggesting the 49ers offered Green Bay a package including No. 3 overall pick and Jimmy Garoppolo among other players, which was rejected by the Packers.
San Francisco selected QB Trey Lance with the pick, so does that mean their interest in Rodgers no longer exists?
Denver was on the clock at No. 9 and despite some speculation they could take a QB in that spot the team selected cornerback Pat Surtain II. Earlier in the day they traded a sixth-round pick to Carolina for QB Teddy Bridgewater.
The Broncos now have Bridgewater and Drew Lock in the top two spots on the depth chart, and you’d have to think Denver’s front office is going to continue exploring ways to upgrade the position in the off-season. Rodgers should now be atop their wish list.
The Raiders aren’t averse to boldness with Mark Davis and John Gruden at the helm and upgrading to Rodgers would be about as bold as you can get.
Derek Carr is a two-time Pro Bowler but the current Las Vegas starter has finished only one season above .500 and the Raiders would happily move on from him and his $20-million salary if it meant having Rodgers behind centre.
The three teams mentioned above are a starting point, but this story isn’t going away anytime soon as the draft concludes this weekend.