The recent developments in the Aaron Rodgers saga have led many observers to reassess their takes on the entire juicy situation. Indeed, the “Rodgers will finish his career with the Green Bay Packers” contingent is emptying faster than a tailgate keg at Lambeau Field as reports of the chasm between last year’s MVP and the defending NFC North Champs rage like a hangover headache.
Among those who now find themselves at least considering the possibility, albeit remote, that Rodgers might eventually make his way to the Minnesota Vikings is yours truly. It’s true. I’ve stepped away from my stubborn stance of a year ago at this time – an opinion I voiced in this space last May that Rodgers would never, ever play for the Vikings.
Before we explore the reason for my departure from such an absolute declaration, a short recap of what got us here may be in order. The speculation about where Rodgers would finish his career, assuming it won’t be in Green Bay, kicked into high gear following Green Bay’s selection of quarterback Jordan Love (a.k.a., Rodgers’ eventual replacement) in the first round of last year’s draft. Fans and media members alike weighed in on where he might go following the Packers’ “overt disrespect” for him with the Love pick. Amidst the hot takes were many prognostications that Rodgers would ultimately land with the Vikings. Even noted “Leave Green Bay for greener pastures” expert Brett Lorenzo Favre predicted Rodgers wouldn’t finish his playing days in Wisconsin.
Even in the wake of the MVP season that followed, there were murmurs that things still weren’t all rainbows and gumdrops between Rodgers and the Packers. The situation then escalated quickly. On the eve of this year’s draft, all hell broke loose, and news leaked (with strategic timing) that Rodgers had essentially had enough and intended never to play for the Packers again. He went so far as to tell free agents not to sign with the Packers and inform teammates that he was done in Green Bay.
At this point, even the most ardent debunkers had to admit the rift is real — and it’s spectacular.
I’ve come to terms with this new reality. What’s more, my eyes have been opened to the possibility that the Rodgers-to-the-Vikings scenario is within the realm of far-fetched possibility. I still believe there’s a better chance that an extraterrestrial will piggyback on a sasquatch into the Oval Office and challenge President Biden to a game of cribbage. However, Rodgers going to the Vikings is no longer a zero-chance proposition.
Thus, as a believer in science and the never-ending quest for truth, I’m compelled to admit when there’s a non-zero chance of something occurring. Scientifically speaking, there exists a wormhole through which this scenario plays out, and Rodgers becomes a Viking. This NFL string theory is based wholly on what has become an indisputable fact: Rodgers has it in for the Packers and thirsts for revenge against them for numerous perceived slights and some outright disrespect.
Vengeance will be his.
Rodgers is a lot of things, including very intelligent, and one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. By many, many accounts, he can also be very petty. Just ask his family. Revenge fuels him. When others wrong him, he jots it down in his mental journal.
Our first glimpse of the retributive side of Rodgers came shortly after the Packers selected him with the 24th-overall pick in 2005. He had hoped to be selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the first-overall pick. After all, he had been projected to go early in Round 1, and he had grown up in California rooting for the Niners. It all made perfect sense. However, immediately after he fell to 24 and was taken by the Packers, a reporter asked Rodgers how disappointed he was that he would not be a 49er. “Not as disappointed,” he famously replied, “as the 49ers will be that they didn’t draft me.”
If there had been such a thing as eyeball emojis and Twitter at that time he uttered that veiled threat, the entire available inventory of eyeball emojis would have been discharged.
So here we are, about three weeks away from June 1, when trading Rodgers would be a little easier for the Packers to do from a salary-cap-hit standpoint, and it’s looking more and more feasible that he might be able to force his way out of Green Bay. The Packers continue to contend that they have no intention of trading Rodgers. What else are they supposed to say for public consumption? Make no mistake, Rodgers holds the cards here. He can hold out or threaten to retire and become the full-time host of Jeopardy! He can thrive with or without the Packers, but the Packers face a total rebuilding effort without him.
Rodgers reportedly wants general manager Brian Gutekunst fired to even begin repairing the badly burnt bridge. He likely also wants a stake in ownership (something they give out all the time to Packers fans). The release of Love and any wide receiver who’s ever run a bad route or dropped a pass. All his interceptions expunged from the record. To only be addressed when spoken to. Complete control of offensive play-calling. One million shares of Dogecoin. A written apology in the form of a question. And a pony.
Short of that, there’s going to be a messy divorce.
If and when the Packers realize that trading him is inevitable, they’ll obviously endeavor to move him out of the division. Green Bay’s No. 1 rival, the Chicago Bears, just drafted their next franchise quarterback, Justin Fields, so that rules them out as a possible suitor for Rodgers. And the 49ers, who were still rumored to be one of Rodgers’ preferred destinations, also just selected their next quarterback by taking Trey Lance with the third-overall pick.
No, the Packers won’t trade Rodgers to the Vikings either.
Any path Rodgers has to the Vikings is an indirect one, and it’s paved with pure pettiness. That’s the only possible way he winds up in purple. Remember, it’s all about revenge.
The conspiracy theorists like to point to Favre’s path to Minnesota as a blueprint. The convoluted retirement/unretirement scenario, while fun, isn’t likely. Though it’s worth noting that whenever he’s asked about Rodgers, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer suggests he should retire. Think that’s a joke? Think again. Maybe it’s code for Rodgers to follow in Favre’s footsteps and join him in Minnesota. That should stoke some conspiracy theorists.
By the way, Favre played for the Vikings in his age-40 and 41 seasons. Rodgers’ current deal runs through his age-40 season.
In reality, forget about Aaron using retirement as leverage. That’s not happening. He can host Jeopardy! later. He’s as healthy as a 38-year-old quarterback can be, enjoys playing, just won the MVP, and, oh yeah, wants his revenge. Rodgers has a contract that runs through 2023. By then, Kirk Cousins will no longer be a Viking — and neither will Rodgers’ nemesis, Anthony Barr.
The most likely scenario in which Rodgers becomes a Viking is that he first gets dealt to another team – for example, the Houston Texans or Denver Broncos — and then signs with the Vikings when he becomes a free agent. Or if he does go to Denver, former Vikings executive and current Broncos general manager George Paton could trade him to his old buddy Rick Spielman in a year or two for a couple of first-round picks. It could happen.
Let’s face it, Rodgers’ revenge tour could only realize its maximum potential if he finishes his career with the Vikings. If presented with the opportunity, he’d jump at it faster than he could send back Christmas gifts from his family. However, he’d first need to record a diss track about Danica Patrick, Mike McCarthy, and that one referee who called him for intentional grounding that one time. Only with the Vikings could Rodgers exact a revenge that would include vanquishing the Packers while wearing the uniform of one of their biggest rivals. Proponents of this theory — what I’m calling The Pettiness Theory — claim Rodgers’ endgame is to win a Super Bowl with the Vikings. It’s something Favre couldn’t get done, and no Vikings team has ever accomplished (as we all know). He’d then hoist that Lombardi Trophy, shine it up real nice, turn it sideways, and tell the Packers where they can put it.