Aaron Rodgers Rumors: Colts Linked as Surprise Trade Candidate for Packers QB by Exec

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 24, 2023

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 08: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass against the Detroit Lions in the second half at Lambeau Field on January 08, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The future of Green Bay Packers quarterback and Aaron Rodgers remains uncertain, with the two main possibilities for the four-time NFL MVP appearing to be sticking in town or a trade to an AFC team, per a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter.

As far as where the 39-year-old may head if a trade goes down, an NFC executive posited to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler that the Indianapolis Colts could be in play:

"One NFC executive brought up an interesting team that's sort of random but would make some sense on paper: Indianapolis. The Colts enter the offseason with $20.6 million in cap space. They absolutely need a quarterback. Despite a four-win season, the roster is not void of talent, especially on defense. And Indy owns the fourth overall pick, an easy dangling point in a potential deal with Green Bay.

"'[Indianapolis general manager Chris] Ballard has to get one [a quarterback] and get it right,' the executive said. 'Maybe they just draft one and save the money, but Rodgers would be different than their other past stopgap options because he's more of a sure thing.'"

The Colts have played quarterback roulette for four seasons since Andrew Luck's surprise retirement during the 2019 preseason.

Backup Jacoby Brissett took the reins in 2019 before the Colts added ex-Los Angeles Charger legend Philip Rivers for a swan song before his retirement. Indianapolis then added Carson Wentz via trade from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2021, but that experiment was one-and-done.

Indianapolis then tried the veteran route again with Atlanta Falcons legend Matt Ryan coming aboard after 14 years, but he struggled and was benched multiple times. Head coach Frank Reich was fired midway through the season, and the Colts endured a 4-12-1 campaign.

The Colts have gone the veteran route each of the past three years, and it has led to one playoff appearance and zero playoff wins.

With that in mind, Indianapolis may be best off using its No. 4 overall draft pick on a potential franchise quarterback and building around him.

The Colts, who have the option of trading up if needed, could find itself in a position to choose from the top 2023 quarterback prospects.

At the moment, those names appear to be Alabama's Bryce Young, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud and Kentucky's Will Levis. All three landed in the top 10 of Bleacher Report's latest NFL mock draft.

On the flip side, Rodgers is a future Hall of Famer and one of the best players to ever suit up at quarterback. He just won back-to-back NFL MVP awards in 2020 and 2021.

On the other hand, Rodgers finished 15th in quarterback rating and 27th in ESPN's QBR metric out of 33 qualifiers in 2022, per Pro Football Reference. There was an adjustment period for him, though, as he worked with a new wideout crew sans superstar wide receiver Davante Adams, who was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders in the offseason.

A deal to the Colts may also not be particularly appealing to Rodgers, who is probably interested in competing for a team in a much better position to compete in postseason play. Rodgers doesn't have a no-trade clause, so the Packers could hypothetically agree to a deal with whomever, but one figures a player of his status would be involved in his potential move.

As it stands, Peter King of NBC Sports speculated that the Packers would want two first-round picks for Rodgers, so a team is going to have to pay a hefty price for his services. Rodgers also has a big contract that runs for two more years:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

On first read of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Packers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Packers</a> QB Aaron Rodgers' new contract, he gets:<br><br>$42 million in 2022<br>$59.515M in 2023<br>$49.3M in 2024<br><br>So that's $150.815M over the next three years, and the first two are fully guaranteed at signing.

Still, the idea of Rodgers returning close to or meeting his 2020 and 2021 form has to be enticing for potential trade partners regardless of his past season, the potential draft pick cost and his contract. Perhaps the Colts or another AFC team finds themselves in the mix, but Rodgers could also simply stick in Green Bay and make any trade talk moot.