I keep seeing numbers like “$100M in dead cap” for trading Rodgers pre-6/1. Those numbers are just not accurate to the reality. If the Packers traded Rodgers, they wouldn’t be the one paying his $59M bonus, the other team would. Therefore his dead cap is a more manageable ~$40M. The team trading for Rodgers would have just a $16M cap hit in 2023 for Rodgers, according to Ken Ingalls. Nothing is barring the Packers and Rodgers from seeking a trade if they decide to.
If Rodgers Retires in 2023
This option seems very possible after his exit from Lambeau on Sunday. If he does retire, the retirement can be processed either before or after 6/1, with similar cap hits as a trade.
Rodgers Stays In Green Bay For 1 More Year
This is by far the most complicated option. I can’t see Rodgers going for 2 more years in Green Bay, and for right now that’s not entirely relevant. $76.80M is the dead cap for a 2025 retirement though. There’s no way to lower his 2023 cap hit, and a pay cut won’t change it either. It is what it is, and a retirement after next season would be devastating to their cap. It’s either a ridiculously huge 2024 dead cap number or massive dead cap number in ‘24 and ‘25. Keeping Rodgers for one more year is an expensive option that affects them for more than just 2023.
Rodgers is getting $50M per year on his new deal, the highest average in league history. His total stats during the Packers’ 4 game win streak? 808 yards, 4 TDS, and 2 INTs. He wasn’t the reason they were winning. The defense, run game, and special teams were winning those games. The passing game was mediocre in most of the games, but were lifted by 12 turnovers forced during that stretch. When they came up against a team that didn’t commit turnovers, they lost as Rodgers had a pitiful 205 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT game against the terrible Lions defense. Not exactly what you expect from your $50M QB.
And I understand there was roster turnover, shuffling OL injuries, and a new OC. But this is a guy getting $50M. You sold out for him in the hopes he could elevate the talent around him, not sink with it. To cut Rodgers slack, they led the league in dropped passes, but the OL gave him 2.7 seconds to throw on average per NGS, more than his 2021 average and .02 lower than 2020, OL isn’t an excuse.
Even if I believed Rodgers was to bounce back next year and be great, what leads me to think the team as a whole will improve? Joe Barry is still DC, and I doubt his group is going to average 3 TOs per game, and the offense will likely lose veterans in Cobb, Lazard, Tonyan, and Lewis. Cheap replacements aren’t an option either. They’re at -$40M for season costs before doing anything, restructuring guys and signing Gary and Amos to extensions for their full savings nets them about $16M to spend at most. Except that’s not happening because if they did they would be at about -$10M in 2024. Rodgers will cost them $68M to not be there if he retires.
If they keep Aaron Rodgers, the Packers will have to absolutely gut their team in 2024. Clark, Bakhtiari, Smith, Campbell, Douglas, Jones, all out. There’s no other way to afford Rodgers’ massive cap charge without pushing $45M of it to 2025, which is even worse. They would be mortgaging at least 3-4 years of horrible football for a chance at one ring, counting on 2nd year players to not regress like Stokes, but take massive leaps. I don’t see it happening, and I don’t think there is value to running it back. It’s time to be done.