The Green Bay Packers have been steadfast in their determination to move forward into 2021 with Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback, but the three-time NFL MVP may have other plans for what his future holds in the upcoming season.
Speculation about Rodgers’ eventual departure from the Packers was kicked into overdrive on Thursday when ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news that Rodgers had told key members within the organization he is not planning to return to the team next year. While the Packers have attempted to change his mind and gone as far as offering him a contract extension, Rodgers remains unhappy and could threaten retirement to force a trade.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, though, Rodgers would prefer to be traded and even has a “wish list” narrowed down to three destinations: The San Francisco 49ers, the Denver Broncos and the Las Vegas Raiders.
From unimpeachable source: As of last night, Aaron Rodgers’ wish list was 49ers, Broncos, Raiders (not necessarily in that order). He wanted Packers to take the 49ers’ offer. Next move by Rodgers is TBD.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 29, 2021
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San Francisco 49ers
Now, according to Florio’s “unimpeachable source,” the 49ers did inquiry about Rodgers’ availability for a trade on Wednesday night and were rebuffed, but Rodgers was apparently hoping the two sides would be able to work out some kind of deal. It makes sense Rodgers would have his eyes on San Francisco considering his strong connections to the Golden State — he has a house in Malibu, an actress fiancee who works in Hollywood and grew up in Chico. Rodgers also got to see the high-octane power of Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system when the 49ers whooped the Packers twice two years ago.
Would Rodgers make San Francisco an instant contender? Considering they are going all-in on obtaining a quarterback at No. 3 overall (for now), it stands to reason they believe better quarterback play will make quite the difference. He would also have weapons like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle at his disposal with protection from linemen such as left tackle Trent Williams (eight-time Pro Bowler) and veteran center Alex Mack (six-time Pro Bowler).
Forget the 49ers and how poetic it would be for Rodgers to circle back to them after they passed on him during the 2005 NFL draft; The Broncos is just flat-out equipped to acquire Aaron Rodgers. They could reasonably entice the Packers with multiple first-round picks (including this year’s No. 9 overall selection) and might even throw in an additional player to sweeten the deal. New Broncos general manager George Paton could be highly motivated to land the future Hall of Famer considering he spent his last 13 seasons as an executive in Minnesota, watching Rodgers terrorize his Vikings and the rest of the NFC North.
The Broncos could still use a right tackle along with various upgrades throughout their defense, but adding a player of Rodgers’ caliber should also be able to compensate for some of those shortcomings. The arrival of a three-time MVP could also lure some free agents to Denver to help them address whatever holes are not filled via the draft. They would no doubt have a dangerous passing offense with Rodgers throwing to Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Noah Fant.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders are the last and maybe the most complicated on the list. They are another out-of-conference team that wouldn’t threaten the Packers’ claim to the NFC, and they could offer the Packers back a solid quarterback in exchange to challenge or mentor Love. The trouble is they hold the No. 17 overall selection as their biggest draft asset and would have to dig much deeper to find a deal that would appease the Packers.
As things stand now, the Raiders could supply Rodgers with some above-average receiving weapons, including Henry Ruggs (No. 12 overall pick in 2020) and tight end Darren Waller. They also have a stacked backfield at their disposal with Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake now set to form a dynamic due in 2021. The question is whether the Raiders will progress enough on defense to actually support a contender-worthy offense, which is far from guaranteed.