Green Bay Packers Should Go All-in Around Aaron Rodgers Right NowJuly 28, 2021
The good news for Green Bay Packers fans is obvious: Reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers is back with the team at training camp after a tumultuous offseason in which he reportedly lobbied for a trade and declined to attend organized team activities.
But Rodgers' return on a revised contract also changes the dynamics in Green Bay.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday that the new agreement will grant the 37-year-old "the freedom to decide where he wants to play in 2022."
It's unclear if there's a verbal or contractual agreement in place for that, but the fact that Rodgers is now eligible to hit free agency in 2023 should be enough to light a fire under the Packers on the trade market next offseason. They won't likely want to risk losing Rodgers for nothing after the 2022 campaign.
On top of that, Schefter reported that the arrangement gives the Packers more salary-cap space immediately.
That could be huge for a team that has gone 26-6 with head coach Matt LaFleur over the last two years and has fallen just one game short of the Super Bowl in both campaigns. The Packers are still widely viewed as being a step behind the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC and could use the boost.
Put all of that together, and it's clear Green Bay should be all-in on 2021 before welcoming what appears to be a somewhat inevitable rebuild starting in 2022.
Forget extending the contract belonging to All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams, unless that raises even more 2021 money. Every move the Packers make for the remainder of this calendar year should be with one goal in mind: Winning Super Bowl LVI in Rodgers' home state of California.
Former ESPN NFL host Trey Wingo tweeted Monday that Rodgers wants former teammate Randall Cobb back in Green Bay. That'd be a shame because Cobb is expensive ($10.5 million cap hit in 2021) and beyond his prime, but the soon-to-be 31-year-old's presence certainly wouldn't hurt a receiving corps that lacks depth beyond Adams. And if it makes Rodgers more comfortable for this potential swan song, do it. Ideally, the Houston Texans will pick up some of his remaining salary anyway.
Regardless, the Packers should now do everything in their power to reinforce the roster so that they can overcome the Bucs and the rest of the NFC en route to the Super Bowl.
Veteran cornerback Steven Nelson just signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, and potential Hall of Famer Richard Sherman was charged with five misdemeanors related to an arrest on suspicion of burglary domestic violence, which may lead to discipline under the NFL's personal conduct policy. But potential upgrades over Kevin King still exist after the unreliable starter struggled opposite standout Jaire Alexander in key moments last year.
Vet Josh Norman allowed just an 84.0 passer rating last season with the Buffalo Bills, while 2017 first-round pick Gareon Conley could have a chance to create competition in a new, supportive setting.
And then there's somewhat of a patchwork Green Bay offensive line. All-Pro center Corey Linsley is gone, as are former regulars Rick Wagner and Lane Taylor. Meanwhile, soon-to-be 30-year-old left tackle David Bakhtiari is battling back from a torn ACL.
They should at least bring back the still-unsigned and experienced Wagner, but Rodgers could benefit greatly from the addition of a highly accomplished vet like Mitchell Schwartz, David DeCastro, Russell Okung or Austin Reiter.
Those offensive linemen remain available right now for a reason. Schwartz and DeCastro come with injury questions, DeCastro might be leaning toward retirement, and none of those four is a spring chicken. But this is about adding options. It's about swinging the bat when you've got little to lose.
Considering that, historically speaking, 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love is more likely to bust than to become a franchise quarterback, he's a trade chip that can't be ignored if the right offer is on the table. The Packers should make him available, along with any premium future draft picks, if it might mean a shot at a star player on the trade market.
Odell Beckham Jr. could put Green Bay over the top if he comes to the team and puts it all back together opposite Adams. Xavien Howard or Stephon Gilmore could have similar effects opposite Alexander at cornerback, as could Chandler Jones opposite Za'Darius Smith on the edge.
It's time for the Packers to pursue all of those options. No more chips should remain in their stack. It's Super Bowl LVI or bust before Rodgers hits the road.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter: @Brad_Gagnon.