Aaron Rodgers Didn't Factor into Broncos Hiring Nathaniel Hackett, GM Paton Says

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 28, 2022

Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett before an NFL divisional playoff football game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, Saturday, Jan 22. 2022, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

"Absolutely not."

That was Denver Broncos general manager George Paton's emphatic response when reporters asked if Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers played a factor in Denver's hiring of Green Bay offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as its next head coach.

Naturally, one might connect the dots and assume that Hackett's hiring could potentially influence the three-time NFL MVP to come to Denver, although the 42-year-old Hackett has an accomplished resume in his own right that includes overseeing an offense that finished top two in Football Outsiders' DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) each of the past two seasons.

Rodgers' football future is up in the air, though. He notably said on The Pat McAfee Show Tuesday that "everything is definitely on the table" for what's next in his career.

That could mean retiring after 17 NFL seasons, coming back to Green Bay and finishing out a deal that expires after 2022 or working with the team to orchestrate a trade elsewhere.

In the midst of Rodgers' standoff last offseason, the three-time NFL MVP was heavily linked to the Broncos, although the freeze between the quarterback and the Packers thawed out in time for training camp.

Now the Packers' season is over, and the question is what's next for a 38-year-old signal-caller who appears set to win another MVP award this season.

A connection to the Broncos is natural.

Rodgers' affinity for Hackett was made abundantly clear in November when he told reporters that he hoped the OC didn't go anywhere unless he did (with a smile at the end):

Jason Wilde @jasonjwilde

Here is <a href="https://twitter.com/AaronRodgers12?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AaronRodgers12</a>’s full answer — on Nov. 11, 2020 — about Nathaniel Hackett when asked (in a typically long-winded way 😉) about then-<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Packers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Packers</a> offensive coordinator and now the new head coach of the Denver <a href="https://twitter.com/Broncos?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Broncos</a>. <br><br>The smirk at the end … <a href="https://t.co/FJu5HlDeNn">pic.twitter.com/FJu5HlDeNn</a>

"'Hack' has been a really important part of our culture change," Rodgers said, per Keith Cummings of Mile High Huddle. "And a part of our success on offense. I love him. I hope he doesn’t go anywhere...unless I do."

The Broncos' defense was sensational last year, allowing the third-fewest points per game. However, the 7-10 team's offense struggled, finishing 23rd in the league.

Adding Rodgers could certainly help a team that already has a group of talented skill-position players that includes running back Javonte Williams, wideouts Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick and tight end Noah Fant.

For now, however, Rodgers remains a Packer, and the Broncos are searching for ways to get out of the AFC West basement.