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Rodgers Will Surely Exit Prior to Next Season: It’s All According to Plan

Throughout 2021, Packer fans and the national media (sports and social) have rampantly speculated about Aaron Rodgers’ future in Green Bay. One person, though, had things all figured out long ago.

Of course, over the past season Aaron wore out his welcome with a good portion of Packer Nation, both with his preseason statements and attitudes, and now with his sub-standard postseason play. But even if he hadn’t, Green Bay’s finances foretell what is going to happen. We hear endlessly that the Packers are about $50 million over the salary cap for 2022. It’s should be easy to grasp how serious a crisis the team is in.

I believe Green Bay’s current cap space is -$38.4M; a number that is only exceeded by the Saints (-$71.6M). To get under the cap, Green Bay will probably be required to part ways with at least five of its top ten players. There is, however, one way to lessen the blow: by parting ways with the guys who have the greatest cap hits.

The Pack has seven players whose cap hit in 2022 is over $10 million: Rodgers ($46.4M), Za’Darius Smith ($27.7M), Davante Adams (25.9M), David Bakhtiari ($22.8M), Preston Smith ($21M), Kenny Clark ($20.9M), and Adrian Amos ($12M). Rodgers in fact has the league’s largest cap hit amount.

Other notable cap hits are: Randall Cobb ($9.5M), Aaron Jones ($8.95M), and Billy turner ($8.9M). Cobb’s inflated number makes it certain that he’ll either be let go or agree to a contract restructuring. Za’Darius Smith has all but announced his belief is that he won’t be with the team for the 2022 season.

Making matters even more challenging, the Packers have two recently-acquired players who are about to become free agents, and whose market value has suddenly skyrocketed: All-Pro Da’Vondre Campbell and game changer Rasul Douglas. Too bad they weren’t signed to multi-year deals.

As one can easily see, there’s but one way for the Packers to avoid wholesale decimation of the roster: letting Rodgers, Adams, and Za’Darius go.

Green Bay Packers GM Gutekunst

Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is shown before their game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, October 21, 2019 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
Packers21 6 Hoffman

Enter the GM

Brian Gutekunst was hired as Packers’ general manager on January 8, 2018. One year to the day after getting the job, he hired a new head coach. Just a couple months after that, he acquired the Smiths, Adrian Amos, and Bily Turner. Then in April, he astounded everyone by drafting quarterback Jordan Love in the first round. This was all part of a calculated plan.

Though Gutey couldn’t have foreseen that Rodgers would become the league’s MVP rather than continue his slow slide into mediocrity, it doesn’t matter. All signs indicate that the Packers are going to stick with the GM’s strategy, and switch starting QBs from Rodgers to Love for the 2022 season.

Even Rodgers has indicated that he’ll rapidly make his plans known after the season has ended. While it is Rodgers decision whether or not to retire, the rest of the options concerning his future are up to Gutekunst. That’s right, Gutekunst’s master plan, which I believe was to develop Love for three years and then make the quarterback switch, as was done with Rodgers, is right back on track.

Remember when the Packers agreed to have Aaron’s contractual obligations end after 2022 instead of 2023? I think that was just window dressing – Gutey never intended to have Love’s development program last for more than three years – his days as a backup will soon be over.

Oct 28, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) and teammates during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Rodgers’ Future

There’s lots of available money out there for Rodgers to get whatever he monetarily wants. Three teams (Dolphins, Chargers, Jaguars) are sitting at +$60M cap space. Teams that might be pretty solid, except at QB, include the Broncos, Colts, Seahawks (if Wilson leaves), and perhaps the Jets – all of whom have salary cap space of over $40M. Much speculation prior to the 2021 season was that Denver would be a good fit – it turns out that they went 7-10 with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm in 2021. Denver has just been back in the news again as the most likely landing spot for Aaron in 2022.

By trading Rodgers, the Packers should be able to get a slew of high draft picks. I just hope that his performance against the Niners hasn’t unduly damaged his trade value.

Packers’ Forecast

If Rodgers, Adams and Za’Darius depart, that pretty much solves the salary cap crisis. Someone else should be able to compute how close these three moves would come to erasing the team’s cap deficit. That’s a big blow to the roster, but it would leave the rest of the team largely intact – and Green Bay would still retain a good many All-Pro or Pro Bowl level players. The shelf won’t be bare for QB Love.

Gutekunst has never envisioned that Jordan Love will lead the team to the playoffs immediately. It took Rodgers five years with the team, and two years as a starter to have a winning season – and three years as a starter (sixth year with the team) before he and his mates won a playoff game. We should soon find out how well Love’s training has come.

Fans need to be realistic in their expectations. We just saw Trevor Lawrence, the top draft pick in 2021, finish his first year as the Jaguar’s starter in all 17 games. He completed less than 60 percent of his throws, averaged only 6.0 yards per pass attempt, threw for 12 TDs and 17 interceptions, and had a passer rating of 71.9. The Jaguars won just three games with a collegiate superstar under center. I’m betting that Love will have a lot better year than that.

Fans might be skeptical of how Gutey’s plan is going to play out, but they shouldn’t be dismissive of his strategy. Gutekunst is a smart and wily guy. The same is true of Russ Ball, who is the Packers’ salary cap guru. These guys truly did go all-in this past season, which was just what most fans were asking for. I think they put a hell of a team in place, despite the group’s failure to execute in the playoffs, I’m going to place some faith in, and show some patience for, the talented guys that reside in the Packers’ front office.

Nor should we wave good-bye to the 2021 Packers without acknowledging the unfortunate injury situation that beset the team at playoff time. We all thought “the cavalry was back” for the playoffs. Instead Jaire played all of eight snaps; Za’Darius was good for only 19 of 54; Mercilus got only 12; Bakhtiari and Marquez Valdes-Scantling didn’t even suit up. And Randall Cobb might as well not bothered to.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) and tight end Robert Tonyan (85) celebrate after connecting on for a touchdown during the second quarter of their game against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, December 6, 2020 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

I can’t see Rodgers ending his pro career by retiring on such a sour note – he loves the game, and the limelight. Though his worth to another team just got devalued a mite, there will be no shortage of teams salivating at a chance to acquire a twice-consecutive (?) MVP quarterback. How often does such an opportunity come up? Despite the one bad game, there is little evidence that age (38) has begun to erode Aaron’s passing skills.

In sum, keeping Rodgers in Green Bay would result in stripping the team’s roster of most of its stars. Rodgers has already said he doesn’t want to play on a team on the rebuild, which is what the Packers will have to do if Rodgers is retained.

The decision isn’t about the controversies that have swirled around Rodgers this season, and it’s not about his record of uninspired play in postseasons. It’s all about the finances! Rodgers departing Green Bay at this time is a WIN-WIN!

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Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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18 Comments

  1. Tom M January 28, 2022

    No Rob, we’ll trade ZaDarius Smith for a bevy of draft picks. So says our resident talent evaluator PF4L. The decision here is simple. Gut the roster to keep Rodgers and Adams. Which begs the question. If the dynamic duo can’t win it all with a talented roster, they sure can’t do it without one. Or you keep your core guys and use your draft picks you’d get in a trade to acquire cheap talent. Give Jordan Love his shot. I’m not convinced he’s the answer but after 11 years we’ve seen that Rodgers is not.

  2. Jmurray January 28, 2022

    Time to move on from Rodgers. GB did go all in to win a SB and lost. Time to see if Jordon Love is the future.

  3. Mitch Anthony January 28, 2022

    If, and I say if, this is the plan to move on and transition to Jordan Love then one of the things that works in the favor is the current state of the NFC North. Minnesota, Chicago, and Detroit have their respective woes and none of them look to be dominant long term forces in the division – at this time – when looking at their situations. The timing of such a move might be right in this regard.

    Has my heart been warmed from what I have seen from Jordan Love? Not particularly. His body of work mirrors pretty accurately with his scouting reports. I think the pace of the pro game is a bit rattling to him and his decision making needs much refinement. There’s still a learning curve and we have lived in “Entitled Town” for three decades. So get ready.

    Thanks Rob, nice write up.

  4. Deepsky January 28, 2022

    What’s left out of the salary cap discussion is WHY the Packers are in this situation. The Packers cannot afford Rodgers because the fans were complaining that Ted Thompson didn’t do enough to get Rodgers another Super Bowl ring. How many fans called him cheap? So, Gutekunst goes out and spends some money. He actually hit on his free agents in a big way, especially with guys like Douglas and Campbell. These high salaries to Smith and others were paid to make Rodgers and his sycophants happy. The possible departures of Bakhtiari and the inability to sign Cambell are going to really hurt this team in the long run. So in the end, after spending all this money and now having to shed players, what exactly did it get the Packers? Did the Packers get closer to the Super Bowl? Nope. This season was a clone of many seasons with cheap Ted Thompson at the helm, a playoff loss with Rodgers looking scared and making bad decisions. In my opinion all this spending got Green Bay nothing except a team that will struggle to win 7 games for the next 5 years.

  5. PF4L January 28, 2022

    “What’s left out of the salary cap discussion is WHY the Packers are in this situation.” – Deepsky
    .
    It’s ALL, Rodgers fault….lol
    .
    “So, Gutekunst goes out and spends some money. He actually hit on his free agents in a big way, These high salaries to Smith and others were paid to make Rodgers and his sycophants happy” – Deepsky
    .
    Signing the Smith Brothers had NOTHING to do with losing Peppers and Mathews? They got signed just to make Rodgers happy.?….interesting.lol
    .
    Signing Amos had nothing do with the failure of the Packers to draft and develop a safety?
    Or how about, play a draft pick in his college position and try not to make a safety a corner.
    .
    i digress…it’s all Rodgers fault
    ***********************
    “What’s left out of the salary cap discussion is WHY the Packers are in this situation.” – Deepsky
    .
    Well…it’s certainly not Gutes fault for spending 182 million ( a years NFL salary cap) in 2 weeks, or Russ Balls contract structures..
    I’ll tell you who’s obvious fault it is…it’s Rodgers fault!!
    *********************
    Deepsky…Tell us what a bargain high priced Preston Smith was. Tell us how he was worth the money he made. Whose fault was that?
    Hot damn!…of course…it’s Rodgers fault.
    .
    Deep mentions Rodgers 4 times in his post, i only know of 1 other that does that.
    The hate runs DEEP.

  6. Sal January 28, 2022

    I’m a fan of Zadarius, but our defense has proven we don’t need him. Rodgers just isn’t fun to watch anymore, even on his best day. Love Davante but if he and Rodgers are a package deal, so be it. I for one am ready to see what the future and a changing of the guard have in store for the Packers.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the only man for the QB job in Green Bay next year is GARDNER MINSHEW. Think how fun it would be to see that guy pounding beers and eating brats with the fans. We could go 5-12 and have a great fucking time doing it.

  7. Ferris January 29, 2022

    Article summary in 9 words. It’s over. Get ready to suck for a while.

  8. Tom M January 29, 2022

    Sorry PF4L, you can’t spin this one. Brian Gutekunst fixed the defense from two years ago. They kept the 49ers out of the end zone. And your girlfriend still couldn’t get a couple of first downs to put the game away. You’ve got the best young CB duo in the NFL in Alexander and Stokes. A top five Safety combo in Savage and Amos. One of the games best young pass rushers in Rashan Gary. Perhaps the best RB team in Dillion and Jones. And the only guard in the NFL that can play LT at a high level in Jenkins. Plus you picked up Douglas off someone else’s practice squad and Campbell as a cheap FA. And you’ve developed a young, promising RT in UFA Nijman. Do I continue? Brian Gutekunst did everything he could for Rodgers save suit up and play for him. He gave him every opportunity to win it all. The failure is on Rodgers and absolutely no one else. We move off Rodgers, Adams, ZaDarius, and Cobb and the cap will be fine. We keep our core players and give the keys to Love. It’s his time. I’m not convinced he’s the answer, but I already know Rodgers is not. And he won’t be in Denver either.

  9. Killer January 29, 2022

    It looks like all the Packers need to do is trade Rodgers away and cut the Smiths and there you go, the Packers are well under the cap. With Rashan Gary playing much better and Z. Smith not so missed anyway because they did fine without him this year, the main effect will be the QB changeover. Love is a huge downgrade over Rodgers in the regular season but anyone is an upgrade over Rodgers in the post-season. The Packers will be much less likely to make the playoffs but a little more likely to advance in the playoffs if they do make it.

    I’m sure the Packers can get some good stuff for Rodgers and don’t underestimate how it will be like an ongoing spring breeze of fresh air in the building once his poisonous presence is eliminated. As far as picks, if I were a GM I would give up nothing for Rodgers. Not even a 7th rounder. Not even future considerations. No-thing! But teams are QB desperate and will be willing to accept the human-shaped cancer with open arms even as they watch him shrivel in his old age.

  10. PF4L January 29, 2022

    Ferris…
    .
    Gute/Murphy had/has a plan.
    Go after their chosen 1st round QB in the draft, spend 2020 resources for the future health of the Green Bay Packers.
    Gute acknowledged the naysayers who said he should have drafted for immediate help on the team.
    Gute further justified his pick of Love as saying the move was made in the future best interest of the Green Bay Packers.
    .
    Well….Gute/and/or Murphy are making the decisions.
    What comes from those decisions are yet to bear fruit.
    .
    Now Ferris….you may very well be right, they might suck for awhile…or longer.
    But….time will tell that story.
    For now….Gute/Murphy/Love deserve a chance.
    .
    Well….Jordan Love anyway…the other two i can easily live without.
    .
    For now…i’ll keep biding my time, waiting for the rest of the disease in the building to be eliminated.
    It can’t happen too soon.

  11. PF4L January 29, 2022

    Lol….Princess, you again?…..just shut the fuck up for once in your life and find yourself a hobby, or some semblance of a life instead of your full time obsession in here telling everyone about your Rodgers hatred.
    .
    You don’t like Rodgers?…fine….WE GET IT!!
    .
    How many years do you want to live in your self induced misery?
    .
    Finish up your crying….let it all out….and maybe, just maybe….find yourself a life.

  12. Killer January 29, 2022

    It looks like all the Packers need to do is trade Rodgers away and cut the Smiths and there you go, the Packers are well under the cap. With Rashan Gary playing much better and Z. Smith not so missed anyway because they did fine without him this year, the main effect will be the QB changeover. Love is a huge downgrade over Rodgers in the regular season but anyone is an upgrade over Rodgers in the post-season. The Packers will be much less likely to make the playoffs but a little more likely to advance in the playoffs if they do make it.

    I’m sure the Packers can get some good stuff for Rodgers and don’t underestimate how it will be like an ongoing spring breeze of fresh air in the building once his poisonous presence is eliminated. As far as picks, if I were a GM I would give up nothing for Rodgers. Not even a 7th rounder. Not even future considerations. No-thing! But teams are QB desperate and will be willing to accept the human-shaped cancer with open arms even as they watch him shrivel in his old age.

  13. PF4L January 29, 2022

    Nancy….as a viking fan….why are you so interested in the workings of the Green By Packers?
    .
    Wouldn’t your energy be better spent complaining about the inner workings of your viking team?
    .
    Do you even care about the vikings anymore?
    You never seem to bring that up.
    For you…it’s ALL about Aaron Rodgers.
    .
    How long has Rodgers been living in your head?
    .
    Do you have any other interest in life…other than Aaron Rodgers?
    .
    Don’t you ever get tired of hating on a man you don’t even know…everyday, for years?
    .
    Is getting therapy an option for you?
    .
    Is this what your life has become?
    .
    Do you want something new in your life besides Aaron Rodgers?
    .
    Would you like to cheer on the vikings again?…or has that ship sailed for you?
    Is your Aaron Rodgers hate, somehow more important to you than the success of the vikings
    ?
    ***************
    Your post isn’t very long, but you brought up Rodgers 5 times in it.
    We’ve been reading your Rodgers hate for years and years.
    What’s wrong with you?
    .
    Seriously man, how many years have you lived with this Rodgers hate?….are you ok?

  14. Stickman January 29, 2022

    Just wondering what the score would of been without the special teams bullshit performance. Maybe 10-3 us. #12 needs to get away from this funk, time for some fresh air. I hope he goes to Denver. Sad to say but I think I also need some fresh air.
    On another subject, Does anyone know how much cap room there was in the years #12 was a starter?

  15. Stickman January 29, 2022

    LOL, I no longer say Lambeau Field, I now call it The Amusment Park that Rodgers built

  16. Ferris January 29, 2022

    Killer the Vikings sucked again, everyone knew Cousins was not the answer, except you and now you come here and post garbage nobody reads after the season to feel good in your miserable life for 5 minutes. Forget football, I truly feel sorry for you, you must have less than nothing in your pathetic life. You spending time posting here is proof of that.

  17. joefan January 30, 2022

    I hope the Packers learn their lesson and focus on special teams in the offseason. That needs to be a huge priority whether or not Rodgers stays. The loss to the 49ers is easily understandable by looking at the three phases of football: offense, defense, and special teams. The 49ers played bad offense, good defense, and great special teams. The Packers played bad offense, good defense, and bad special teams. So see the difference? The 49ers played well in two of the three phases while the Packers only played decent in one phase. The 49ers actually had the advantage the entire game because of this I think. It’s easy to look at the score with 6 minutes left and feel like the Packers should win with the way the defense was playing. But special teams counts. You can’t ignore it and say it was all bad luck.

    It’s certainly possible the Packers could’ve won with bad special teams, but why take this risk anymore? The NFL playoffs are not baseball and basketball. You get one chance.

    I see a lot of people saying, “if the Packers didn’t have the blocked punt then maybe they would’ve won or probably would’ve won” or something similar. To me, that is pointless. The reason it’s pointless is because it DID happen and it happened because the special teams had played bad all year. I think we have a tendency to downplay these mistakes as bad luck when they’re really not. The 49ers pushed the blocker back and blocked it. That isn’t luck. That is just one player being better than the other. You can fix that by improving blocking or finding someone who can block better. I’m not saying it’s easy to do because that involves coaching and finding guys who can do it, but that is the way to improve.

  18. Mick January 31, 2022

    Ya, I agree joefan! The STs’ for this franchise have been a giant turd in the bath tub for a decade now. Not to mention the blocked punts and FGs, this unit was amongst the worst in the NFL at returning punts and kicks, and covering punts and kicks. Add that to the fact that STs’ have almost cost wins during the regular season, and in the playoffs; had a total meltdown. Which indicates to me that, with the plan they have in place, and not showing any improvement as the season wore on, is a BIG problem.