Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers suffered a shocking loss to the sixth-seeded San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round of the 2022 playoffs. Rodgers has now amassed a record of 0-4 in the playoffs against the Niners, regardless of venue. That makes him the first quarterback in NFL history to lose to a single team in the playoffs four times.
There is some blame to be spread around. Rodgers didn’t play well and missed open receivers while trying to force the ball to Davante Adams and Aaron Jones. Special teams, like they did all season, cost the Packers in a huge way, giving up two blocked kicks, one for a 49ers touchdown. If one thing is for certain, special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton should be gone next year.
The point being that a 13-4 team with a better roster and everything to play for should not have lost to a team that had to win their Week 18 game to even become a playoff contender. Now that they have come up short yet again, the Packers organization and fans will have to dive head first into the rumors surrounding Rodgers and what his next move entails.
In the 2021 offseason, Rodgers reportedly demanded a trade on draft night. That did not come to fruition, and he held out for the beginning of training camp. Given Rodgers’ contract at the time, the Packers would have been content to force him into retirement rather than trade him for pennies. All of that was smoothed over when Rodgers returned to camp and re-worked his contract, which now affords him much more power if he does, indeed want out.
Retirement is totally possible for Rodgers, but he does have more years of greatness left in him, at 38-years-old. If Rodgers does want to keep playing, here are a few options that seem like the best deals for both sides.
Green Bay Packers (Honorable mention)
Without wasting much time on this one, many would agree that Rodgers is in the best possible spot. He has a running back that is sewn up contract-wise, a bunch of cheap wide receiver talent and the best receiver in the league (Adams), who can be franchise-tagged next season. He also has a defense that played very well in 2021.
The Packers are also obviously more liable to give Rodgers more of what he wants in a new contract, being that they re-negotiated his deal once already. The only sticking point here is backup Jordan Love and what happens with him. It is certainly not a far cry from reality that Rodgers stays with the only team he has known.
New Orleans Saints
This one is extremely tough, due to the Saints’ absolute cap nightmare they would have to solve to bring in Rodgers. Although, if the magic gets done, then this roster is just a quarterback away from being extremely formidable in the NFC race. Head coach Sean Payton almost had New Orleans in the playoffs filtering through four different starting quarterbacks. Payton has since stepped away from the Saints, but all that means is Aaron could hand-pick his coach if he were to wind up there.
The Saints’ defense is the definition of steady, and the offensive talent there is nothing to sneeze at. Particularly after they finally return Michael Thomas. Again, this would be a trade, not a free agency signing, so New Orleans could trade some high value players back to Green Bay after a sign-and-trade to make Rodgers’ contract more workable.
Extremely tricky, but the Saints have a Super Bowl roster with a quarterback like Rodgers. and a proven, Super Bowl-winning coach in place already. Plus, a warm weather city with a dome stadium might seem like an upgrade from the frozen tundra of Lambeau this late in his career.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders were a team in flux this season, as scandal after scandal befell them. Rich Bisaccia, however, became the first interim coach in the history of the league to take his team to the playoffs. That is telling of how talented this roster actually is, even if it does not seem like it on the surface.
Derek Carr had an MVP-level first few games of the season, only to watch the team fall off, and then rise back up from the ashes. He is good, but Rodgers is better, and can elevate formerly-mediocre wide receiver talent to make them look next level. If the Packers receive some draft picks and Carr, who still has a year left on his deal, that could minimize the blow of losing one of the greatest.
Also, not for nothing, but the Raiders are in a division with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert. They need to become borderline transcendent at the position to keep pace.
Okay, trading him in the NFC is much less likely and there are two NFC teams on this list. But don’t shut this one down right away.
The Eagles have three of the top-20 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, and five of the first 85. The Packers could get two of those this year, in a good defensive draft, and maybe one or two more in future years along with Jalen Hurts who could bring a dynamic wrinkle into this offense. He is also under contract for two more years for very cheap, which is nice.
Teaming up Rodgers with this running game and Heisman Trophy-winner DaVonta Smith could be seriously tough to defend. Head coach Nick Sirianni will also almost assuredly bend to Rodgers’ will when it comes to the offense. Just don’t rule this one out.
Featured image courtesy of Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports
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