The road to the Super Bowl has ended for Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers and company. After an incredible MVP-worthy season by the 13-year starter he landed in the NFC Championship game, at home no less, after defeating the league’s top-ranked defense in the L.A. Rams. Yet, they couldn’t pull out the win after a controversial call from Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur.
During the post-game press conference, when asked about the call to kick a field goal with little over two minutes left in the game and the Packers were trailing by 8 points... Rodgers seemed to be flustered. He went on to talk about his future and hinted on how he may be wearing a different uniform next season.
Rodgers finished the 2020 season with 48 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions, a truly remarkable effort by the 37-year-old. But after this devastating loss, could he really be headed out toward a West divisional team? After Rodgers’ reply; “Lot of guys’ futures, that are you know, uncertain. Myself included. And that’s what’s sad about it most…” it’ll be what's dissected below.
ESPN senior insider, Adam Schefter reported that rumors to do with Rodgers are valid because of two things; he hasn’t said it was an overreaction, and he has the upper-hand.
Rodgers feels as though he hasn’t been trusted by the Packers as of late. Instead of trusting the 15-year-pro, LaFleur decided to kick a field goal and thus shot down dreams of reaching the Super Bowl again since Rodgers and the Packers won the Lombardi trophy in 2011, an entire decade ago.
This isn’t the only time Rodger’s has felt undermined by Packers’ leadership. Last April, during the 2020 NFL Draft, the Packers selected Utah State QB Jordan Love with the 26th overall pick. The last time the Packers picked up a QB in the first round was 2005 when they selected Rodgers himself, who shortly after took over for then Packers QB Brett Favre. So instead of picking a player which could propel the Packers further into Super Bowl contention, they chose a player to sit on the bench for 2-4 years.
One could see how Schefter thinks the 9-time-Pro Bowl QB is as good as gone after; several disappointing seasons, conservative play-calling in big moments, and casual yet confusing front office moves. He goes on to mention that Rodgers has the upper-hand in asking for a trade, if the Packers are reluctant to allow him an ‘out’, he can just threaten them with retirement. Which leaves us with the question… where/who in the world would GET the blessing of a Rodger’s force-trade?
Los Angeles Rams
In no particular order here, the Los Angeles Rams have had great success under head coach Sean McVay. McVay, 35, is the youngest head coach in the NFL today and it's in large part to his electrifying style of offense that he's able to boast that statistic. Yet, as of late the Rams haven't been producing much on the offensive side of the ball and it shows in their overall performance. Since their Super Bowl appearance against the New England Patriots, the Rams have gone 20-14 (including playoff games) and failed to win their division once.
They exceeded expectations this season by reaching the Divisional round of the NFL Playoffs, losing 18-32. Yet, Rams QB Jared Goff is still coming under plenty of fire from the Los Angeles fan base. Goff admittedly has had better days, his third year under center was phenomenal given that he went 13-3 during the regular season and lost only to future-Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. That season he threw for just under 4,700 yards and 32 touchdowns while only giving up 12 interceptions.
Since however his combined 2019 and 2020 seasons cover 42 TDs and 29 INTs. Such a drastic change could spell trouble in Tinseltown. After McVay is on record being very conservative about calling Goff their starter leading into the 2022 season, and rumors that their relationship may need some "marriage counseling" have emerged, there is reason to believe they may be making a change at play-caller.
Now how does Rodgers fit here? Well as it's been previously noted by Schefter, the All-Pro has a house 20-minutes from the Rams' training facility. Rodgers is from California,and he's spent the last 15 years in flatland, brutally cold, small town Wisconsin. I'm sure as Golden State native that can't be ideal. Now, he's seen that even with his best efforts that his team can fall apart and more importantly fall short. Surely key defensive shut-outs like DT Aaron Donald and CB Jalen Ramsey, alongside a firecracker coach like McVay, entice Rodgers just a bit.
San Francisco 49ers
New 49ers General Manager John Lynch has inherited quite a team. Yet an injury-ridden 2020 season puts plenty of question marks around players reaching contract expirations. He'll be working with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan to address those questions for the upcoming season.
49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo has had a rollercoaster ride since landing in San Francisco during the 2017 season. His initial success was exactly what they'd hoped, he went 5-0 in the games he started that season. After tearing his ACL in only the third game of the 2018 season it looked as if his career may take a dive. Yet, the next season, backed by one of the best defenses in the NFL, Garoppolo led the team to a 13-3 regular season and lost to Chiefs in the Super Bowl.
The difference between this team and the L.A. Rams is almost nonexistent. They've had QBs who've led them to the big game but couldn't get it done, and now fan bases are calling on their removal after short periods of lack luster play. Nevertheless, Niners fans may be right citing Garoppolo's consistent injury problems and IN-consistent play.
So why would Rodger's and the Packers head this direction? Well for one the 49ers, have much more draft capitol and moveable pieces than the Rams do. The Packers' front office would certainly be more open to doing deals with them rather than their southern NFC West counter-parts. But another intriguing fact is that Rodgers grew up less than three hours away from San Francisco and loved the Niners as a kid. Could nostalgia play a factor in Rodgers' decision? We'll have to stay tuned.
Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders QB, Derek Carr has emerged from yet another so-so season and Raiders fans feel the pain. Finishing 8-8, 2020 was only the second of six seasons Carr has finished without a losing record. The Raiders are notorious for trusting players and coaches for far too long, but they may have found a QB-full offseason to make a change.
Las Vegas has the 17th overall pick as well as 5 others in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft, and are only around $7 million over their 2021 cap. While $7 million sounds hefty, the Raiders can absolutely move money around especially if they address the $19million contract that Carr is under.
Don't get it wrong! Carr hasn't displayed terrible numbers, it's just a lack of numbers all together. The Raiders are forced to settle on the run, check-downs, and passes to the TE (which aren't always boring when you have an athlete such as TE Darren Waller).
It isn't even close to impossible for the Raiders, and if they want to make a splash, they may take a note from their L.A. brethren and get a new 'face' to establish their organization in Las Vegas. Nevada, who just recieved their first NFL team in 2017, can agree that 27 TDs. and 9 INTs just isn't enough to compete in a division with offensive monster Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. Rodgers would certainly put them in those discussions immediately.
Last, but certainly not least, the Denver Broncos have a strong case to grab one of the many hot QBs on the market this offseason. Denver HC Vic Fangio has one of the largest and more succesful coaching trees in the nation right now. Several underlings such as; Brandon Staley, Sean McVay, and Zac Taylor are in head coaching positions already in their young careers. Another top-leader from his back log is Green Bay HC Matt LaFleur.
Rodgers may have an easy transition to this offense with that kind of historical background. He can quickly improve a young, capable offense stacked with players like WR Jerry Jeudy and TE Noah Fant. Also since Fangio is a defensive play-caller, Rodgers can use his experience and more than likely be more involved with play-calling as well as personnel moves.
This type of freedom in the organization may be exactly what Rodgers is aiming for, and the beautiful thing is the Broncos could just sit second-year pro QB Drew Lock behind the legend to grow. Rodgers famously loved the advantage the Packers' "Frozen Tundra" offered him, could he be trying for another advantage in the thin air of the Mile-High City?
If and when Rodgers leaves it will certainly be a heartbreaking divorce, but the outlook of the NFL will almost definitely change. This, as well as other QB drama, is important to keep an eye on as the offseason unfolds.