Yes, I understand the absolute ridiculousness associated with that phrase. How could Number 12, the gunsling, Packers franchise legend ever be playing for another NFL team. Ok, maybe over the past few offseasons we Packers fans have become a bit more accustomed to the thought, however, it’s still not an easy feeling to stomach. However, the one constant we’ve seen throughout NFL history, is that it is a business, and should be treated and viewed as such. This instance is no different, so let’s get into it.
The Cap Breakdown
One important thing to factor into this situation is that Rodgers does not have a no-trade clause in his contract. But. 12 has been around the franchise long enough that he should be respected enough that the Packers care to do right by him, and trade him somewhere he wants to go. If that’s not enough, if the Packers pick a spot Rodgers does not like, he can simply retire, and the team receiving him would decline to go through with the deal. So essentially, yes he does have a no-trade clause, and this will have to be a mutual decision. If the Packers trade Rodgers prior to June 1st of this year, which would make sense, as they would most likely look to acquire a pick in April’s draft, they take a 40.3 million dollar dead cap hit on this year’s books. Although it may not be ideal to have such a constraint on this year’s cap, they would be getting compensation in return, and could use this upcoming season as a rebuild/retool season as they move into a new era. Then, in the following seasons, they would have no Rodgers related cap implications. If Rodgers however plays the 2023 season, he would count for 31.6 million dollars against the books, but, Rodgers would then count for 68.2 million against Green Bay’s cap table in the following 2 years. Essentially, the Packers could stomach a 40.3 million dollar hit just this year and not have Rodgers on the team (trade scenario) or, 99.7 million dollars spread over 3 years, just for Rodgers to play an additional year in Green Bay. I believe the former is the superior option in any case, as not only does it free up Green Bay’s future cap over the next 3 years, but, it allows them to get a look at Jordan Love. This 2022 season was a disappointment not just in missing the playoffs with a roster and signal caller geared toward contending, but also in the fact that Green Bay’s coaches and front office executives did not get a chance to see what they have in Jordan Love. Although it’s easy to say, with hindsight being 20/20, the best time to trade Aaron Rodgers would’ve been in the same offseason as Davante Adams, last year, when they could’ve hauled in a similar if not better package to what Seattle pocketed for Russell Wilson, except Green Bay would’ve been trading the back-to-back NFL MVP. Because in all honesty, being not only a middling team, but pushing out your ability to get a look at the potential future may be the worst thing this front office could continue to do. At least with a year of Love, they could first see what they have in him, and if it’s not much, receive a high draft pick put towards obtaining the next Green Bay QB, in a generationally loaded 2024 QB Class.
Ideal Destination Requirements
So, what are we looking for in a Rodgers trade partner? Ideally, a team would meet all three of the following requirements, however 2 out of 3 will have to suffice in some instances. Firstly, we’d like the team to be in the AFC, as although the Packers might not be considered among the top contenders in a scenario without Rodgers, no Packer fan wants to see him in another uniform, against Green Bay, more often than they need to. A second requirement, the team must have an already built core of weapons for Rodgers, as he won’t want to go somewhere where it gets worse than it was this year in Green Bay, and if he doesn’t agree with the landing spot, he has the power to hold up the deal. Finally, Rodgers’ new home would ideally have a top-half first rounder this year, or an enticing player + future capital. The issue with acquiring future capital is that such a pick would be determined based on the team’s success with Rodgers, most likely putting them towards the latter half of the draft board. This is why we’d prefer immediate, 2023 capital, also giving Green Bay an additional year with their potential new addition. So, today we’ll go over 2 AFC and 2 NFC landing spots, and then another 4 spots next week.
Destination 1: New York Jets
Chef’s kiss, New York is a perfect change of scenery, and supporting cast for Rodgers. For one, he gets to come in to an offensive coordinator vacancy, and potentially influence who his next play caller is. The players around him on offense are nothing to scoff at either, without a deep stable of running backs reminiscent of his later years in Green Bay, with Breece Hall, Michael Carter, James Robinson and Zonovan Knight. At wide receiver, he’ll get to work with and help develop young studs Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore, along with veteran pass catchers like Corey Davis and Tyler Conklin. He should be well protected with the likes of Alijah Vera-Tucker, Mekhi Becton, Laken Tomlinson, Conner McGovern and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. And this won’t be like his mid-2010’s Green Bay days either, as the defense is a top end unit in their own right, boasting young studs like Sauce Gardner, Jermaine Johnson and Quinnen Williams, all being coordinated by well respected head coach Robert Saleh. Green Bay would ideally be getting the Jets first round draft pick this year, allowing them three selections in the top 46 of a loaded draft class. Another bonus, the Jets are in the bright lights of New York, and Rodgers would get all the attention he never got in small market Green Bay. The only feasible downside to this landing spot is the immense competition in the division, where Rodgers would have to survive playing Bill Belichick, Josh Allen, and Mike McDaniel and the Dolphins, each twice a year. Not to mention he’d have to go through the much tougher AFC playoff bracket. But, if he’s able to succeed through such a gauntlet, and lead the Jets to the promise land, his legacy would be cemented among the greats.
- Green Bay receives: Pick 13, Pick 74 (via NYJ)
- New York receives: Aaron Rodgers
Trade Synopsis: Obviously Pick 13 is the real prize here, with the Jets third rounder being a throw-in sweetener for the Packers, and at pick 13, Green Bay would be able to select one of the top 3 receivers in Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston or Jordan Addison, and then at 15 take their choice of Safety, EDGE or Offensive Line aid, addressing the remaining needs at picks 45, 74 and 78. I truly find this to be the best deal and fit for both sides.
Destination 2: Tennessee Titans
Another team Rodgers has been linked to in recent offseasons, Tennessee would make a slightly worse trade partner than the Jets. In this scenario, Rodgers would link up with the ever-underappreciated Mike Vrabel, and get to hand the ball off to Derrick Henry 30 times a game, and maybe help Tennessee’s very minimal stable of receivers play above their level, unlike Ryan Tannehill, Malik Willis, or Joshua Dobbs have been able to do. The receiver corps is very thin, consisting of just Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Chigoziem Okonkwo. In this case, one would think Tennessee would look to free agency to find a veteran to bolster the room for Rodgers’ arrival. On the other side of the ball, Rodgers would yet again be going to a team with a studded defense, as the Titans defense allowed the fewest rushing yards per game in the league, to go with the 14th fewest points per game. Rodgers would no doubt be able to elevate the offense to a level that the defense wouldn’t always have to make an important stop to keep the team in the game.
- Green Bay Receives: Pick 11, 2024 3rd-round pick (via TEN)
- Tennessee Receives: Aaron Rodgers
Trade Synopsis: A slight jump from the Jets first round selection, having pick 11 would vault Green Bay ahead of wide receiver needy teams like not only New England, but also Houston, allowing them to potentially have their pick of the crop.
Destination 3: Washington Commanders
Here we begin meeting just two of the three ideal requirements, as are in the NFC and would most likely meet Green Bay in the regular season if not postseason in the upcoming years. Washington has been just on the edge of the playoffs the past few years, making it some, missing it by just a bit in others. Rodgers would come into a team with Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel catching the ball, easily the best wide receivers corps since Rodgers early-mid 2010’s days. In the backfield, Rodgers would have Brian Robinson, Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic to work with, a versatile group that could all play a part in replicating the Aaron Jones/A.J. Dillon tandem, with Gibson and McKissic providing Jones’ pass-catching ability and Robinson being a similar rock-pounder to Dillon. The offensive line without a doubt has its holes, but the defense has the potential to be great. The defensive line is around the top in the league, with elite pass rushers in Chase Young and Montez Sweat, and Jonathan Allen clogging up the middle. The weakness comes in the secondary where just Kendall Fuller and Kamren Curl can be considered mid to high end starters.
- Green Bay Receives: Pick 16, 2024 2nd-round pick (via WAS)
- Washington receives: Aaron Rodgers
Trade Synopsis: Similar to prior deals, this package gives the Packers another mid-high first rounder, and actually nets them back-to-back selections at 15 and 16, along with a ‘24 2nd, which would help them be able to maneuver up or down the draft board however they please.
Destination 4: Carolina Panthers
Here’s a team that will meet the Packers in this upcoming regular season, unfortunately in Carolina rather than Lambeau. It’s seemed as though Carolina has just been a QB away for a while now, and their owner is not oblivious to such a matter, as he pressured the front office to keep close tabs on Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson moves last offseason, this could be the one David Tepper finally pulls the trigger on. Carolina’s team is young all around, and although missing some offensive weapons, should do well for Rodgers. The Panthers boast a young and exceptional defense including Brian Burns, Jaycee Horn, Donte Jackson, CJ Henderson, Derrick Brown, and Jeremy Chinn. On offense, Rodgers would have two good edge protectors in Ikem Ekwonu and Taylor Moton, along with receiving weapons like DJ Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr., and Laviska Shenault. By far the weakest backfield of any aforementioned teams, with just D’Onta Foreman and Raheem Blackshear. Similar to the Titans, Carolina would most likely look to spend some cash in free agency acquiring another offensive weapon for Rodgers to work with. Carolina also boasts the easiest division for Rodgers to plow through, as they were only one game off the playoffs this year, with a rotation of Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and PJ Walker playing Quarterback. With Tom Brady’s future up in the air, the NFC South would be ripe for Rodgers’ taking.
Potential Trade Package:
- Green Bay receives: Pick 9, 2024 4th round-pick (via CAR)
- Carolina receives: Aaron Rodgers
Trade Synopsis: This deal would bring Green Bay the highest overall draft pick yet, and allow them to select a top 10, and top 15 prospect in this year’s class. Green Bay would almost certainly have their choice of the top safeties, wide receivers and offensive linemen at pick 9, with it being unlikely that either of Will Anderson or Jalen Carter fall to this spot, barring extenuating circumstances.
That about wraps up Part 1 of potential Aaron Rodgers trade destinations this offseason, if you enjoyed this article, make sure to come back next week for 4 more potential landing spots and packages, and leave your thoughts or opinions in the comment section.