Welcome to the weekly Zone Coverage Packers mailbag, where I try to answer all your burning NFL and Green Bay Packers-related questions, submitted via Twitter to @m_widmeier.
I think Aaron Rodgers is gone after this early exit. What say you?
Everyone will be speculating over the next month — and potentially longer — about what Aaron Rodgers will do after another disappointing postseason exit. For now, I lean toward him playing elsewhere next year as well.
Retirement is an option, but that seems far-fetched given that Rodgers is still playing at an MVP level. After the loss to the San Francisco 49ers, there has to be a lot of doubt as to whether or not the Packers will or could reach the mountaintop with No. 12. That isn’t to suggest that this is Rodgers’ fault, although he performed poorly against San Francisco. In large part, he’s kept the structure upright in Green Bay for over a decade now, but there comes a time when a separation is best for both parties. They may have reached that point.
Rodgers is the best option for the Packers next year, there’s no doubt about it, but if there’s a belief that it will just end in another early postseason exit, why live in purgatory for the next two or three years when you can start over now?
If Rodgers comes back, Green Bay will be favored to win the NFC North regardless of what free agents come back. The problem is the division title, while great to capture, isn’t the ultimate goal for the Packers, yet it’s all they seem to be achieving in recent seasons.
It will be a brutal pill to swallow, but the best move for the Packers — and for Rodgers — might just be a trade in the offseason.
Who should the Packers prioritize this offseason in free agency?
Obviously, priority No. 1 as it pertains to true free agents is Davante Adams. It’s very possible that he and Rodgers are a package duo. If Rodgers doesn’t return, it’s hard to envision Adams signing on the dotted line unless he’s franchise-tagged. The could also be true if Rodgers returns but Green Bay isn’t able to play salary-cap gymnastics with Adams. He is the first priority and it isn’t even close.
After that, Green Bay should turn its attention to De’Vondre Campbell. The inside linebacker was a first-team All-Pro in his debut season with the Packers and answered so many of the inside linebacker questions that the Packers have had for years now. Given the season he just had, the cost of doing business just went up.
Campbell will field plenty of offers this offseason. What he will have to juggle is how much of his success was Joe Barry’s scheme and how much he believes in that plan going forward compared to who offers the biggest check. Other teams will have every opportunity to go over the top on an offer that would make it tough for Green Bay to match. That could be an ongoing narrative this offseason.
Rasul Douglas is another significant piece the Packers should prioritize. Green Bay will only have three cornerbacks on the roster once free agency begins. A trio of Douglas, Jaire Alexander, and Eric Stokes for the years to come is a dream scenario for Green Bay.
If Rodgers is gone, is Jordan Love the future?
If Rodgers is gone, it depends on what team he moves to and what the return package is.
One really intriguing option could be a deal with the Las Vegas Raiders. In such a scenario, the Packers could land picks and Derek Carr in return.
Carr is a gamer who helped carry the Raiders to the playoffs this year. Through much of his career, he’s worked without a true star WR1 in his prime. It’s far from the only possibility for the Packers, though.
If Rodgers is gone, it’s entirely plausible that Green Bay trades him for a ton of future draft picks and turns the keys over to Love. The soon-to-be third-year quarterback has waited patiently for his chance, and if Rodgers is gone this offseason, it’d be difficult to not at least see what they have in Love. They spent a first-round pick on him after all.
The variety of ways this could go with Rodgers are endless. If he does come back, it puts Green Bay in a spot where they would almost have to find a trade partner for Love.