NFL Agent Disagrees Stars Should Have Input; Felt James Harden 'Nuked' Rockets

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 24, 2021

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 21: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks on in the second half against the New York Jets during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 21, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The standoff between Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers during the offseason led some to wonder whether the NFL is heading toward a player empowerment era like the NBA has seen in recent years.

For one agent who works in the league, allowing star quarterbacks such as Rodgers to have meaningful input on personnel decisions may not be sensible.

"Why is that a necessity? Look at the NBA," the agent said to The Athletic's Ben Standig. "James Harden was basically given GM powers by the Rockets, and he nuked the organization."

Harden and the Houston Rockets had a messy divorce. The franchise painted itself into a corner by attempting to cater to the nine-time All-Star. Houston's championship window closed when it traded Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook in 2019.

It's worth noting the Rockets reached the Western Conference Finals twice during the Harden era and were one win away from the 2018 NBA Finals. It was the most successful run for the organization since its back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995.

All things considered, building everything around Harden worked out well.

The larger point is that it's unlikely the NFL will reach a point where star players can wield the kind of institutional power Harden exerted in Houston.

Rodgers returned to Green Bay after the Packers made concessions, and the Detroit Lions acquiesced to Matthew Stafford's trade request. But those decisions also worked in favor of the teams.

Green Bay couldn't let the reigning MVP go when it's contending for a Super Bowl title, and one could argue the Packers called Rodgers' bluff. For the Lions, Stafford's departure allowed them to start a rebuild.

Elsewhere, the Houston Texans haven't moved Deshaun Watson despite his frustration with how the team was run. That was before Watson faced 22 civil lawsuits tied to allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual assault, which have clouded his short-term future in the NFL.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Seattle Seahawks rebuffed the Chicago Bears' pursuit of Russell Wilson after details of internal drama surfaced.

The Seahawks did acquire Gabe Jackson after Wilson was publicly critical of the offensive line. To the agent's point, keeping Wilson happy by upgrading his pass protection doesn't seem like it will have ripple effects across the NFL.

The quarterback is the most important player on the field, which comes with perks and influence. But this offseason seemed to demonstrate the extent—and the limits—of that influence for elite passers.