What Must Aaron Rodgers Be Thinking?

Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson

Put yourself in Aaron Rodgers’ cleats for a few moments. What must he be thinking these days?

I don’t mean the second life of model girlfriends, celebrity golf tournaments, award show appearances, and the like – no matter how hard I try I can’t fit myself into those shoes. I’m talking about how Aaron must be feeling about his career and legacy over the past seven years and of his prospects going forward.

The pinnacles of Aaron’s success were the 2010 and 2011 seasons. In 2010 he realized the ultimate team goal and he had his most dominant personal performance in the 15-1 campaign in 2011.

Receivers Are on the Wane

Let’s start with receivers. In 2011, Aaron was armed with his J-men: Jordy, Jennings, Jermichael, and James Jones, along with Donald Driver. In 2012, he retained all those weapons and added a promising rookie, Randall Cobb.

But then things started to fray. The first to go was Greg Jennings – perhaps the most talented of Rodgers’ receivers. The shame of it was that Jennings was in his prime – and of course he scuttled his own career by seeking wealth rather than appreciating being a part of a legendary pass attack.

Donald Driver was slipping, but still productive in 2011, but he was an afterthought in 2012, his final season.

Next to go was Jermichael Finley – he injured his spinal column in week 7 of 2013, and the Packers have never found a steady tight end to replace him.

James Jones, that most underrated of Rodgers’ targets, was prematurely let go by the team after what was his best statistical season in 2013, even though he only played in 14 games. After a year in Oakland, the Packers tacitly acknowledged their mistake and brought him back for the 2015 season. It turned out to be the best year of his career: 50 catches, 890 yards, eight TDs, and a fine 17.3 yards per completion.

Had Jones not fortuitously become available, the Packers probably would have had a losing record in 2015. The thanks Jones got was being dumped again.

Since 2010 – going on eight years now – the only meaningful wide receiver reinforcements that Ted Thompson obtained for Aaron have been Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. We all know that Cobb’s early promise hasn’t been realized. He seldom gets either the separation or the yards after catch he once did. It takes a big leap of faith to think he’ll reignite his game after three years of mediocrity.

Davante has started all of his four years in the pros, providing two years of good production after two years of lousy production. I’d say he’s hit his ceiling, at right around being a 1,000-yard receiver. This is fine for a number two receiver, but he doesn’t have the tools to be the WR1 for a Super Bowl contender.

As to the tight end situation, we’re now in our third year of new players, increasingly hefty contracts, and no performances that have lived up to expectations.

The Coup d’état

Now we find out that Jordy Nelson has departed. Though Jordy didn’t want to leave, and though he clearly knew his current market value was below what he was earning, it appears the Packers made no effort to re-negotiate a reasonable deal with him.

Surely the Packers could have retained him at $7 million per year. However, it seems that the Packers needed more than $3 million in salary cap savings. They needed to eliminate all of Jordy’s salary to consummate the Jimmy Graham deal. Andrew has admirably pointed out the callousness of the decision. And Aaron Rodgers was said to feel sad about the event.

Sadness aside, you might recall that both the coaches and the pundits have endlessly recited to us that it takes two or three years for Aaron to come to trust a new receiver. If that’s true, Aaron must be wondering if his seasons of 4,000-plus yards are over.

After just one day of free agency, most of the potential replacements for Jordy were quickly snapped up: Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins, Paul Richardson, Donte Moncrief, Danny Amendola…

That leaves us with the draft. But as I’ve already explained, it’s a very poor year for wide receiver prospects. If the Packers draft a wide receiver next month, he’ll probably have little impact on the next season or two or three.

Maybe it’s time to switch Herb Waters and Ty Montgomery back to being receivers? Seriously, I think Ty switching back to receiver is almost inevitable, given the team’s receiver crisis.

Aaron On an Island

I’ve previously pointed out that Aaron hasn’t shown much joy in his work for a few years now. Nor does he have many people to share the joy with.

I remember when he and Tom Clements were thick as thieves. Clements was the Pack’s QB coach from 2006-11, then the offensive coordinator from 2012-14, and then he was given the phony title of assistant head coach for two more years. Mike McCarthy sealed his fate when he made him offensive playcaller, and then took that job back from him, later on in 2015.

Aaron was said to also be buddy-buddy with Alex Van Pelt, the QBs coach who replaced Clements for three years. Oh, but McCarthy just let him go too.

Jordy was of course a close friend of Aaron. That leaves Randall Cobb, who’s done a lot of offseason socializing with Aaron. We don’t even know at this point if Cobb will be on the roster when the 2018 season gets underway.

Aaron is becoming more isolated each year. He’s on his third bikini-babe pal in about five years. He’s essentially estranged from his parents and many of his relatives. As recently as a few years ago he spent the offseason training and exercising with his younger brother, but they’ve gone from inseparable to severed.

Near the end of Brett Favre’s time in Green Bay, when center Frank Winters left the team after 2002, Brett had no buddies left, and no one even in his age group. He used to rush away after home games and take refuge in his deer blind just to be alone and away from all the pressure. I’m seeing too many similarities between Brett’s and Aaron’s lonely-at-the-top lifestyles.

The conventional wisdom is that Aaron was just waiting for Kirk Cousins’ contract terms to become known, and then he’d have his own contract extended to the probable end of his career. The Cousins contract has happened and the numbers were as expected. Cousins will average $28M over the next three years, $500K more than Jimmy Garoppolo, $1M more than Matthew Stafford, and $3M more than what Drew Brees just got.

I continue to think it would be insane for Aaron to presently commit the rest of his career to this operation. This team is beset with turmoil and uncertainty. No one knows how the player, coaching, and front office changes will sort themselves out.

What’s the hurry? Aaron has until 2020 to watch and see if this is the organization he wants to hitch his star to for the rest of his football days.

And the biggest question of all: who is Aaron going to have to throw to?

About The Author

Rob is currently twiddling his thumbs on Whidbey Island in Washington. He likes to do research, although he has no shortage of opinions. He saw his first live Packers game in 1958, the only win of the year.

13 Comments on "What Must Aaron Rodgers Be Thinking?"

  1. Empacador

    Amen Rob. What hurry? The thing is, Rodgers will probably be forced to retire as long as McCarthy has any say in the matter. They will do what the Redskins did to Cousins and franchise the shit out of him while McCarthy flounders around trying to “make” the next Aaron Rodgers. McCarthy is too stupid to realize he was gifted both Favre and Rodgers. At that point in Rodgers’ career it won’t matter anymore, he will more than likely be done mentally or physically, if not both. What a fucking waste of a career.

  2. Cheese

    Will Rodgers pull a Barry Sanders, a Larry Fitzgerald, a John Elway, a Tom Brady, or a Brett Favre?

    Pulling a Barry Sanders would mean retiring early knowing that the team you play for isn’t going to accomplish jack squat so why waste your time.

    On the contrary, pulling a Larry Fitzgerald means remaining with your team knowing that they’re not going to win anything.

    Pulling a John Elway means seeking a trade at all costs.

    Pulling a Tom Brady means saying screw it and you start cheating however possible in order to win because the NFL won’t do anything about it.

    Pulling a Brett Favre means mulling over retirement until your back up starts to look like a better option and the team trades you to the AFC with an imperfect clause that says you can’t go to the garbage picking Vikings, which fails quite easily. Just like the Vikings.

    Will Rodgers finish out his contract and go where ever he chooses? Or will he pull an alternate John Elway, where he sticks around with his dysfunctional team long enough and eventually finishes off his career with two Super Bowl wins?

    • PF4L

      Denver thinks, or wants to portray that they “got their guy” in Casey Kasem. Personally, i think what reality will be telling them in the near future is that Kasem’s season with the queens was an anomaly, not the normal performance of their new shiny QB.

      Although i believe Rodgers signs a new deal, lets play make believe for just a second…..

      If Rodgers wanted out, obviously the Packers would realize that. So logic dictates that the Packers would trade Rodgers prior to the 2019 season and get something for him in terms of players and/or draft picks. So then that would deem this coming season, as the last season you see Rodgers in a Packer uniform.

      For whatever reason, i see Gute as having some real faith in Kizer in spite of the eye test. After the Nelson fiasco, i don’t take anything off the table in terms of what the Packers maybe planning for the future. It seems curious to trade Randall for a back-up QB, when you have almost nothing as far as cornerbacks, sans Kevin King who is a work in progress.

      In a side note: Keep up the informed, intelligent comments Cheese. As a Packer fan, i, as i’m sure others here, are proud to stand with people like you, Ice, and Howard as Packer fans.

      • Cheese

        Thanks PF4L. Same goes for you and the rest of the guys. It’s crazy to think I’ve been coming to this site for around eight years, since before the super bowl. If I would have known that I probably would have picked a better name lol.

        Yeah, the whole Kizer thing is strange. Now their cornerback cupboard is bare bones while the free agent pool keeps getting smaller. I’m not sure what to think of this team anymore. I love the Packers but I hate the people in charge. It’s such a mess and it all starts at the top. I can’t imagine Rodgers is too thrilled over his QB coach getting axed and now management spitting in Jody’s face with that low ball offer. Even if Graham plays lights out next year it feels like managements poor display of leadership and communication is causing a lot of collateral damage.

        The defense still isn’t any better. Not only did they lose Randall, but at the moment they don’t have Burnett or House either. They’ve only picked up two decent receivers since 2011, Cobb and Adams, and neither of them are true #1’s despite how much they’re getting paid. Whatever, I don’t have time to rant. This team owes Rodgers everything and then some, including an apology, because he’s been carrying them on his back for way too long.

        • PF4L

          Yea, we came on about the same time, if memory serves me, i stumbled in here early in the 2010 season. Been in here off and on ever since I’ve left sometimes by my choice, once by Monty’s choice. Seems someone at TotalPacker.com Headquarters didn’t agree with me on something for whatever reason, i probably deserved it. I would have banned myself a handful of times….lol. I have an awful habit of writing exactly what i’m thinking, without filter, and not giving a shit.

          Nothings changed.

  3. Hinder

    Until the Niners got Garropolo I thought that Rodgers would somehow wrangle his way back to Cali. At this point he may end up with the Chargers after Rivers leaves. Aaron loves LA. I know GB will never voluntarily let him leave so I think that he will have to pull a Carson Palmer and threaten to retire if he is not traded.

  4. Silky

    Nice article Rob. Losing Jordy was a big blow; he was my second favourite player (after Aaron). If it wasn’t for Aaron, this relatively new fan would be leaving. Another point: don’t you have to keep your QB happy??

  5. PF4L

    In other news, Packers do Fuller a favor, with the Bears matching the Packers offer (which wasn’t high enough).

    Also, Houston steals the talents of the “Honey Badger” on a one year prove it deal for 7 million.

  6. Skinny

    I’m just pissed we have to again spend 2-3 most likely high draft picks on CBs again instead of being able to go get the WR Ridley or one of the best OLB prospects early. Seriously signing DRC and Tramon would probably make me do the moonwalk right now though.

    • PF4L

      Not that i’m a big fan of TW, But i’d have to agree with you. There comes a time that you need some players back there that at least know what their doing, they won’t give you shut down play, but some veteran presence back there takes you out of a CODE RED. Even if it is a band-aid fix until you get some cap space next season.

      We all know why this is currently happening….it has to do with a professional solitaire player currently ranking in millions, and because his boss would never question anything he did, because he was “doing a great job for us”.

      Breathe easy Packer faithful, both of those men are still watching over the Packers.

  7. ay hombre

    I think Rodgers should put pen to paper and write a press release as to why he’s seeking a trade from the Packers. Hell! Hire Marty Scorsese to direct a video! In this day and age a star who plays his cards right could have the public eating out of his hands. Oh shit! Look who’s President!

  8. MM²SUCK

    This series of “CB” moves (Fuller and H. Badger) help to quantify the one thing that I mentioned a few times last year. That was that “GUTE” was a dyed in the wool TT acolyte period. Just as thick and as short sighted as that fucktard TT. They could have had the H. Badger possibly, but instead blew it. This team will continue it’s downward trajectory that they have been on since 2011. Fuck them. I hope that A. Rodgers asks out of his contract now. The packers have NO INTENTION of helping QB1, so why stay? Their goal is to ONLY make massive profit period! All else be damned!

    • Kato

      Honey badger is constantly injured. On a team plagued with injuries I don’t know how well that would go. Besides he will probably reach free agency again next year, and the packers will have more money to spend then. If he proves himself this year they can pull the trigger

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