While the NFL offseason hasn’t officially hit yet, the Green Bay Packers were eliminated from the postseason by the San Francisco 49ers last week, kick starting an annual tradition: speculating […]
While the NFL offseason hasn’t officially hit yet, the Green Bay Packers were eliminated from the postseason by the San Francisco 49ers last week, kick starting an annual tradition: speculating if Aaron Rodgers will leave Green Bay and play for another team.
Rodgers had only donned a Packers uniform in his 17-year NFL career, and while he has played among the highest level of football of anyone to ever play the quarterback position, the three-time regular season MVP has just one Super Bowl ring to show for it. Rodgers had reportedly grown increasingly frustrated in recent years, with back-to-back losses in consecutive NFC Championship Games before this season.
Last offseason, Rodgers rode the path of uncertainty for a while before committing to play with the Packers for another season.
Now, after the Packers one-and-done playoff exit despite finishing the regular season with the best record in the NFL, Rodgers faces another crossroad. While the perennial MVP candidate is under contract for over $33 million including bonuses during the 2022-23 season, there’s a sense that if Rodgers tells the Packers he’s done with them, Green Bay would try to work out a deal that leaves them with something rather than nothing in return for the disgruntled quarterback.
While Rodgers could potentially have a few teams in playoff form if he became their starting quarterback, one option is quickly jumping off the page: the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos were already a candidate for an upgrade at the quarterback position. Teddy Bridgewater played decent when healthy and Drew Lock didn’t completely stink up the offense, and Denver achieved a 7-10 with relatively unspectacular quarterback play in 2021. The Broncos would like to upgrade, and Rodgers is the best upgrade possible, as a Top Five quarterback doesn’t always just land in your lap (then again, Denver might be a little spoiled: as Peyton Manning once fell in their laps and led them to a Super Bowl.)
But the reason Rodgers to the Broncos talk is really heating up is Denver’s hiring of Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their next head coach. Rodgers could potentially follow Hackett to Denver, quickly install a familiar offense, and lead the Broncos to new heights.
Even after unloading Von Miller to the Los Angeles Rams with an in-season trade, Denver maintained a stout defense, allowing just 18.9 points per game, the third-lowest mark in the NFL. But the offense put up 19.7 points per game, 23rd in the NFL, and yet the Broncos still managed a 7-10, near-playoff record despite not even outscoring their opponents by a point per game.
If Rodgers can come in and up the Broncos scoring average by four to seven points, Denver could be a playoff team next season, even in a crowded AFC West.
Speaking of the AFC West, a division featuring Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr would be amazing, and each divisional matchup would be a must-see quarterback duel.
Currently, Denver’s offense features young stud wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and Tim Patrick, as well as tight end Noah Fant and running back Melvin Gordon. The Broncos head in to 2022 offseason with $44 million in cap space, the sixth-most in the NFL. Not only is this enough cap room to bring in Rodgers, but the Broncos could also make upgrades all around the roster to field a competitive team in 2022-23.
One option with that cap space? Signing Rodgers go-to target from Green Bay: Davante Adams. The 29-year old, five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver is one of the top free agents available this year, and keeping him together with Rodgers is too juicy a scenario to ignore. The duo has combined for 29 touchdowns over the past two seasons, with Adams hauling in an NFL-high 18 touchdown catches in 2020. For a Broncos team that scored just 20 offensive touchdowns over 17 games this season, having Rodgers and Adams on offense could be an absolute game-changer.
If the Broncos land Rodgers and Adams, they’re not just playoff contenders, but Super Bowl contenders. Yes, they would have to get through Mahomes in the division, as well as other obstacles such as Josh Allen’s Buffalo Bills in order to emerge from the AFC. There’s no telling immediately if Rodgers’ Super Bowl chances would be higher or lower with the Broncos, but after years of falling short with the Packers, Rodgers might owe it to himself to give a change of scenery a try in the twilight of his career, following in the footsteps that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have taken later in their careers.
Both those moves resulted in an additional Super Bowl ring for those Hall of Fame quarterbacks: could Rodgers do the same in Denver?
At the end of the day, the Broncos won’t be Rodgers’ only option, and the Packers may not be inclined to initially honor a trade request. But Denver is currently the betting favorite to land Rodgers if he leaves Green Bay, and as far as forcing his way out, I absolutely think Rodgers would be ready to play hard ball and threaten retirement if the Packers didn’t trade him.
Will Rodgers force his way out of Green Bay? Would he make the Broncos a Super Bowl contender next season? If not Denver, where else should Rodgers consider playing? To debate or discuss, join the conversation with @SakSports on Twitter.
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