Aaron Rodgers is still locked on a Super Bowl appearance and win after 14 seasons as the Packers’ starting quarterback. That was confirmed by No. 1 seed Green Bay’s shocking 13-10 loss to No. 6 seed San Francisco in Saturday’s NFC Divisional Playoff game.
Now the big question that has lingered over the NFL’s last offseason will be asked again – did Rodgers play his last game with the Packers?
Rodgers (20 of 29 passes, 225 yards) didn’t have one of his best games against the 49ers defense. Single-digit temperatures, snow showers and a pass rush that sent him off five times all contributed to him turning cold. The same goes for an offense that has once again become limited to three reliable playmakers – running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon and wide receiver Davante Adams.
BENDER: What went wrong for Green Bay in loss
Rodgers is 13-3 as the Packers’ QB for three straight regular seasons. The first two times, he led them to the NFC Championship Game. They lost to the 49ers in 2020 and the Buccaneeers in 2021. This January looked different with more impactful defense, until special teams melted away. With the offense gone, the Packers went one and made like a 1 seed.
Since the Packers won Super Bowl 45 with Rodgers as the No. 6 seed 11 years ago, they have gone 7-7 in the playoffs. They went 0-4 in NFC Championship Games and fell to 5-3 in the Divisional Round. The drop to the 49ers mirrored the loss to the No. 1-seeded Giants 15-1 at Lambeau Field in the 2012 playoffs.
Despite falling short of the Super Bowl again, Rodgers is the heavy favorite to win his second straight regular season MVP, his fourth overall. At 38, he can still play at a high level for several more seasons. The bottom line is whether the Packers have done enough on and off the court to make Green Bay its happiest place in the NFL for the rest of 2022.
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On the one hand, Rodgers may have used his dramatic posturing in 2021 to adjust his contract, motivate his teammates and alert the front office he needs to take care of his main supporting cast members, led by the receiver. broad Davante. Adams. On the other hand, it may have been a veritable ultimatum, that he wanted to take his talent elsewhere if his pursuit of a second ring hit a wall in Green Bay, which he could have done.
Just getting to the Super Bowl might have locked Rodgers in the Packers. But now the clock is ticking on whether he’ll ask for a trade the Packers have to oblige.
Under the terms of his current contract, there are reasonable parameters to facilitate a deal. Trading him ahead of a June 1 designation would cost the Packers $26.8 million in dead money, but also give them $19.6 million in salary cap relief in 2022. With a June 1 designation, the money death would be spread over two years and increase the relief cap to $27.2 million.
There’s no doubt the Packers would want him back given how he connects with coach Matt LaFleur. Playoff disappointments aside, the Packers should know they have no chance of securing a fourth straight 13-win season if they turn to green backup Jordan Love, their 2020 first-round pick.
But that now comes down to Rodgers’ choice. Tom Brady was able to choose his second team, the Buccaneers, as a free agent. Matthew Stafford got a career-ending chance in the playoffs by being traded from the Lions to the Rams. This upcoming offseason, speculation about Rodgers will be matched by that surrounding Russell Wilson of the Seahawks, who is also looking for his second ring after winning one early in his career.
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Rodgers, like Wilson, will have his pick of attractive teams. The Broncos and Raiders, who still haven’t chosen head coaches for 2022, are returning to play with talented rosters. The Steelers, with Ben Roethlisberger set to retire, should also be interested in creating a more viral smile between Rodgers and coach Mike Tomlin. Washington, Carolina and New Orleans are other QB needy teams with an advantage. With no surefire QB prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft (yet), Rodgers will have no shortage of suitors looking for him to pull a Brady and deliver an immediate Super Bowl ring.
As the waiting game for Rodgers to make his decision begins, the Packers don’t have much time this time around, with the league open for trades and other business in less than two months.
Franchise marking Adams is a must to appease Rodgers. But can the Packers do enough to convince him to stay if there’s already too much of a rift in the relationship? Unlike his guest stint on “Jeopardy!”, there are still more questions than answers.