GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Now what do the Green Bay Packers do?
They drafted Jordan Love in 2020, but not to be their quarterback in 2021 and maybe not even in 2022.
Thursday’s news that Aaron Rodgers has told some in the Packers organization that he does not want to -- or plan to -- return to Green Bay, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, changes everything.
What if Rodgers follows through and doesn’t show up for the mandatory minicamp in June or when training camp starts in late July or in time for the season opener?
What began last year as Rodgers, 37, reiterating that he not only wanted to play into his 40s but wanted to do it in Green Bay has done a 180.
When he said last May that “my sincere desire to start and finish with the same organization, just as it has with many other players over the years, may not be a reality at this point,” it seemed he was putting the onus on the Packers to recommit to him.
A year later, it sounds as if he doesn’t even want that anymore. He has even turned down contract extensions or renegotiations, according to Schefter.
If that’s the case, then all the Packers' efforts to keep their team from last year largely intact -- they returned 20 of 22 starters on offense and defense -- and make one more run at a Super Bowl with the group that reached the NFC Championship Game two years in a row might end up for naught.
If Green Bay traded or released Rodgers today, it would save $5,646,000 in salary-cap space. If it did so after June 1, it would save $22,850,000 in cap space. Rodgers is under contract through 2023 -- same as Love -- but has no more guaranteed money left on his deal.
Love didn’t get a chance to show much last offseason as a rookie. There were no in-person offseason workouts, and training camp was a truncated version of the real thing (and included no preseason games). He didn’t even get QB2 reps; those went to Tim Boyle, who spent last season as Rodgers’ backup.
What Love showed, with limited reps as the No. 3 quarterback, wasn’t all that great. It’s no wonder general manager Brian Gutekunst expressed how important this offseason was for Love. But important so that he could be the backup, not the starter.
Green Bay invested three seasons in Boyle but then did not tender him as a restricted free agent this season. Boyle then signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions in free agency.
Gutekunst and the Packers have refused all trade offers for Rodgers. Gutekunst denied shortly after the season that the Los Angeles Rams had made a run at Rodgers, as the Los Angeles Times reported at the time. Gutekunst said there was “no truth” to that. A source told ESPN on Thursday that reports of the San Francisco 49ers offering the No. 3 pick plus quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and other draft picks for Rodgers also was not true. However, Schefter reported that the 49ers did inquire without making a specific trade offer.
Either way, it seems as if the Packers will have another uncomfortable quarterback transition on their hands -- and perhaps sooner than they thought. Thirteen years ago, the Packers moved on from Brett Favre to Rodgers. In that case, Favre hastily retired and then changed his mind, forcing the Packers to trade him to the Jets in August 2008 because they had already committed to Rodgers.
After a 6-10 first season with Rodgers as the starter, the Packers returned to Super Bowl contention and won one soon after. But that was with Rodgers having been the backup for three years. What the Packers would look like without Rodgers in 2021 might not even be that good.