Eli Manning: 'It's Probably Going to Be Worse' If Aaron Rodgers Leaves Packers

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 26, 2022

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 8:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers and Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants meet after the Green Bay Packers beat the New York Giants 38-31 in the NFC Wild Card game at Lambeau Field on January 8, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning warned Aaron Rodgers that leaving the Green Bay Packers may not yield the desired results.

Manning, who played all 16 of his NFL seasons with the Giants, told ESPN's Rob Demovsky that people he spoke with late in his career said a fresh start could turn into a negative:

"It was important for me to finish my career with the Giants, and I would think it would be important for him as well, just because of the legacy that he has, the history of Green Bay, being there as long as he has been, winning a championship and winning MVPs. It's not always greener on the other side. That's what I had learned from talking to other people. You can go somewhere, and it's not necessarily going to be better; it's probably going to be worse."

Manning's future was up in the air ahead of the 2019 season. The Giants had selected fellow signal-caller Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick in the draft, which signaled a changing of the guard at the position and raised questions about whether the likely future Hall of Famer would seek his release.

He opted to remain in New York, playing four games in 2019 as the transition to Jones began, and then retired in early 2020.

The key factor is the Giants allowed him to control his fate. The same was true for his brother Peyton Manning, who won a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos after the Indianapolis Colts let him enter free agency after drafting Andrew Luck. As well, Tom Brady captured his record seventh title last year after signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent following two decades with the New England Patriots.

That may not be the case for Rodgers, who's under contract with the Packers for 2022 as part of his four-year, $134 million contract. Green Bay's front office would likely prefer a trade that would help accelerate roster reconstruction.

Manning told ESPN a trade "you would not think would end real good for him" since the Packers probably wouldn't want him in the NFC, which could complicate matters:

"If Aaron leaves, it's probably going to be his own call. It's going to be his decision, saying, 'I want out of here.' That's what he basically said last year is he wanted to get out. I think it's strange to want to leave someplace where you've been your whole life and to leave for the last two years or whatever it may be of your playing career. Obviously, Tom did it and he had success, but you want to make sure it's the right spot. You can go somewhere and not be any good. I think with Tom, he had the chance to look around. And Peyton, they had free reign as free agents to decide, 'This is the spot to go, this is a good team with a good defense and good receivers.'"

Under that scenario, Rodgers may end up in an AFC loaded with young quarterback talent, led by the Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen, Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Burrow, Baltimore Ravens' Lamar Jackson and Los Angeles Chargers' Justin Herbert.

Competing with that group in the playoffs every year doesn't guarantee success.

The outlook changes if Rodgers and the Packers come to a mutual agreement on either a release or allowing him to pick where he lands in a trade as long as that team is willing to offer a fair deal.

Manning's overall point holds true, though. A 38-year-old quarterback who's switching teams comes with potential downsides, especially since he's coming off winning the 2020 MVP Award and is the likely winner of the 2021 MVP honor as well.

Rodgers didn't make any definitive statements after the team's playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday, saying he's going to "take some time and have conversations with the folks around here" before making a decision about his future.

The situation should receive some clarity before the new league year begins March 16.