Green Bay Packers

Rodgers Likes the Team "The Way it Is," and For Good Reason

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas (USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL trade deadline came and went. No, Jaire Alexander didn’t get traded to the Arizona Cardinals, nor did Green Bay make a move for Odell Beckham Jr. Brian Gutekunst and the Packers watched the day pass by without making a single landmark move. All they did was release Jaylon Smith and change long-snappers.

As is the case every Tuesday, Aaron Rodgers was the prized guest on The Pat McAfee Show. Rodgers was his usual self: casual, open, and honest about how things are going in and around the organization. McAfee asked Rodgers if he had been in the decision-making process and conversations regarding the roster construction and potential trades.

Rodgers had this to say:

“I think that we’ve made some moves already that have been great…with the injuries to [Robert Tonyan] and [Kylin Hill] there are opportunities to add to the roster, but…I like the roster the way it is, especially with some of the guys we have coming back.”

This vote of confidence in both the team and Gutekunst’s work on the roster would have been completely unheralded last summer. As per the Adam Schefter reports, it sounded like Rodgers hated almost every person in the Packers organization not named Davante Adams. He was supposedly already on his way to seek out greener pastures with the San Francisco 49ers or in kahoots with the Denver Broncos brass.

Everything we have seen so far this season would suggest that real, meaningful changes have happened internally. Gutekunst has put some of his hubris aside and has done everything he can to build a championship-caliber roster while simultaneously keeping Rodgers happy. I have written at length about what Gutekunst has brought to the table as GM of the Packers. However, I’ve also said that the organization needs to treat the twilight of Rodgers’ career like that of Tom Brady or Giannis Antetokounmpo. This method involves bringing in star power as the marquee player sees fit. Green Bay has seemed to oblige within reason this year.

Rodgers made a point to specifically call the additions of Rasul Douglas and Whitney Mercilus as positive on the McAfee Show this week. Douglas’ heroics in the win over Arizona have been well-documented. Mercilus made his debut in the green and gold and is slated to be a good depth piece for the linebacking corps. These were two additions on the fringes of the roster that have already paid dividends. Good GMs earn their money by making those moves on the margins, and Rodgers may be starting to realize that this is one of Gutekunst’s strengths.

Rodgers’ quote above suggests that he has faith in Josiah Deguara taking on an increased role in Tonyan’s absence. Rodgers discussed the impact of missing “Bobby and Kylin [Hill],” but then went on to say that he believes in the players coming back. Deguara has had his fair share of injury problems, but now is his time to prove he was worth the third-round draft pick in 2020. It would be unrealistic to increase the workload of Marcedes Lewis, so Deguara is the natural heir-apparent to Tonyan’s offensive role. Green Bay didn’t make a move for a tight end at the trade deadline like some expected, so the opportunity is there for Deguara to seize.

In a seemingly bizarre stroke of good luck, it would also seem that Za’Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander are well on their way to returning before the season’s end. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was designated to return from IR this week. David Bakhtiari will be returning within a couple of weeks as well.

Everything is coming up Milhouse for the Green Bay Packers, who find themselves at 7-1 despite their usual slew of horrendous and season-altering injuries. Rodgers has every reason to like the roster “as is.” The team continues to win games and now finds themselves atop many power rankings. With the array of star power returning before the inevitable playoff run, this may be the year we see Rodgers win his second ring and ride off into the sunset.

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