Green Bay Packers

Evaluating Hypothetical Rodgers Trade Compensation

Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue our third-annual plunge into speculation, reporting, and tantalizing sound bytes on The Pat McAfee Show, it’s getting less and less fun to talk about the fate of Aaron Rodgers. Not that it ever was. It’s certainly beginning to seem like the team is feeling the same way. ESPN’s Adam Schefter sounds pretty confident that a trade is in the cards, even saying that Green Bay “prefers to move on” from their legendary signal-caller.

Of course, knowing Rodgers, sharing a Hall of Fame induction ceremony with Tom Brady probably isn’t super enticing. If that turned out to be somewhat of a legitimate factor, I wouldn’t blame him. For our purposes, let’s assume that Rodgers returns in 2023 and that the Packers are indeed ready to hand the keys to Jordan Love. After being among the 21st century’s most stable franchises at the quarterback position, how the Packers reload will be truly fascinating.

A Rodgers trade has the potential to generate enough capital to get the Packers back into contention. If you don’t believe me, just look at what they did last offseason. Losing Davante Adams was brutal. But flipping him for Quay Walker and Christian Watson, especially when they had no other choice, at least had a significant upside. I’ll bet most fans are even glad the original deal with the Las Vegas Raiders didn’t go through, which reportedly included star tight-end Darren Waller instead of the pick that led to Watson.

Watson flashed superstar potential down the stretch in 2022, including a quick-strike 63-yard touchdown from Love. Suppose Walker can keep his hands off opposing staff members moving forward, which seems like something a normal human being should be able to handle. In that case, he’ll continue bringing much-needed physicality to the second level of Green Bay’s defense. If the Packers can bring in more rising stars to build around Love, the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings could be rethinking their NFC North hopes from the outset.

For all the reporting that’s going on, there continues to be a lack of consensus on what type of package Brian Gutekunst would be able to get for the 39-year-old. Earlier this week, the Denver Broncos traded a pair of premium picks for former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. And as we all know, the mega-deal that sent Russell Wilson to Denver last offseason netted the Seattle Seahawks four premium picks and three mid-tier players. Under normal circumstances, Rodgers would almost certainly command more than Wilson. However, due to his upcoming cap hit and frequent flirtation with retirement, it feels as if the Packers would be lucky with the Payton package.

NBC’s Peter King conjectured that Green Bay will likely ask for at least two first-round picks from prospective AFC teams. Intriguingly, he expressed confidence that New York Jets owner Woody Johnson would “happily” pay that price.

The Jets hired Nathaniel Hackett to the offensive coordinator position recently vacated by Matt LaFleur’s brother and are starting to put things together for the first time since the Rex Ryan days (does that even count?). They’ve got a standout defense and brought a pair of rising stars on offense, Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson, into the fold. Elijah Moore, the second-year receiver out of Ole Miss, was shockingly underused in his sophomore campaign and could be on the table if the Jets emerge as a potential Rodgers suitor.

It remains to be seen just how many teams jump into the sweepstakes. But the New York Jets, Vegas, the Indianapolis Colts, and potentially the New England Patriots or Tennessee Titans could all find themselves in the bidding.

Looking at Green Bay’s needs, safety stands out on the defensive end, and receivers must be prioritized. They weren’t enough for Rodgers this year, so they sure as hell won’t make things easy for Love. Allen Lazard is likely on his way out, and while development can be expected from Watson and Romeo Doubs, Green Bay should target two more quality pass-catchers for 2023. Notre Dame standout Michael Mayer, who’s slated to go right around the Packers’ 15th-overall pick, would have the potential to give them an instant impact tight end for pretty much the first time since Jermichael Finley wore green and gold.

Coming out of the draft with a weapon like Mayer or USC’s Jordan Addison, plus an early-round safety like Brian Branch or Antonio Hamilton, could be huge if Gutekunst can hit on the picks. Green Bay is a whole new team if he can squeeze out a pair of top picks in a Rodgers deal.

The draft has added importance this offseason because of salary cap constraints, which will likely keep the Packers out of the mix for big-name free agents and trade targets like DeAndre Hopkins. If this is the end of an era, which is sadly feeling more likely with each passing day, the Packers won’t be dead. They’ll get some extra picks to reload and have a shot at some big-time playmakers early in the draft. But what type of dude No. 10 turns out to be will truly dictate the future of their franchise. I feel we have a lot more to hear about regarding that 26th pick from Roger Goodell’s basement back in 2020.

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Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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