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What can the Rams learn from the Aaron Rodgers situation in Green Bay?

Rodgers sounds like he’s been reading ‘Trillion Dollar Coach’

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I believe the Packers will trade Aaron Rodgers this year. It’s obvious to me that Rodgers is ready to move on, but I acknowledge that he could also simply be angling for the richest contract in NFL history. Rodgers signed a four-year, $134 million extension in 2018, but he may believe that Green Bay is planning on trading or releasing him in 2022, when he’ll be 39.

Why?

The NFL just set a salary cap max of $208 million for the 2022 season. The Packers have $237 million in liabilities for 2022. They’re in the worst position for 2022 than any other team in the NFL, including the Rams. If Green Bay chooses to trade Rodgers next year, they’ll save $22.6 million and be able to turn the offense over to Jordan Love, who’ll only be making $3.3 million in the third year of his rookie deal.

Rodgers appeared on SportsCenter this week and spoke to Kenny Mayne and he mentioned that him winning MVP last season “threw a wrench” in Green Bay’s plans. What did he mean by that? Probably that now Rodgers has all the leverage in the world to either ask for a contract that guarantees his presence beyond 2022 or to demand to be traded to a team that is more than happy to give him $200 million over five years.

Even if he’s 38.

Now, if the Packers trade Rodgers after June 1 this year, they’ll save $22.8 million against the cap in 2021, and with that money they’ll either be able to trade for Julio Jones or roll it over to 2022, when they’ll desperately need it. Or do a little bit of both.

Keep in mind also that not only does Green Bay have 2022 salary cap nightmares, but their free agents include Davante Adams, Robert Tonyan, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, and punter J.K. Scott.

It may be at the point now where the Packers have no choice but to trade the reigning MVP, just so they can field an offense around Love in 2022 and beyond. Trading Rodgers for multiple first round picks — and/or players that would be attractive to Green Bay — would help the Packers be able to reload by next year, but it also puts their ability to contend this year in serious doubt.

To me, it would make the most sense seeing Rodgers traded to the Las Vegas Raiders:

  • He’s out of the NFC
  • The Raiders save $19.6 million by trading Derek Carr, enough to be able to afford Rodgers
  • A three or four-team deal would send Carr somewhere other than Green Bay, and I have a feeling that the Houston Texans — same place his brother was once the first pick of the franchise — make the most sense. This could also facilitate a Deshaun Watson trade.
  • The NFL wants a player like Aaron Rodgers to be in Allegiant Stadium, just like they’re happy to see Matthew Stafford and Justin Herbert at SoFi Stadium
  • Jon Gruden would happily do anything for the MVP
  • Mike Mayock would love to make another flashy trade
  • The Packers might be happy to see Rodgers fighting it out in a division with Patrick Mahomes, making it slightly less likely that he won’t get homefield advantage and reach the Super Bowl
  • The NFL would LOVE to see Mahomes-Rodgers twice per year
  • Week 10: Chiefs at Raiders, Sunday Night Football, November 14
  • Week 4: Raiders at Chargers, Monday Night Football - SoFi Stadium
  • Week 1: Monday Night Football, Raiders vs Ravens
  • Yes, I’m implying that the NFL has some push here
  • Las Vegas only has $156 million in 2022 liabilities — $137 million without Carr
  • Team drafts Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, Hunter Renfrow, signs John Brown, builds the offensive line, spends first round picks on tackles in 2018 and 2021, drafts a RB in 2020 — but never touches the QB position in the draft
  • Derek Carr’s not it

Now here’s something interesting to add, as well. Rodgers was barely recruited coming out of high school and he mailed his high school tape to Purdue. According to Rodgers, a Boilermakers assistant sent him a letter back that said, “Good luck with your attempt at a college football career.” The Raiders offensive coordinator is Greg Olson, who Rams fans may remember as the offensive coordinator from 2006-07, and the quarterbacks coach in 2017.

But from 1997 to 2000, Olson was the quarterbacks coach at Purdue.

However, it is probable that Rodgers sent the tape in 2001, when Olson was the quarterbacks coach for the 49ers, Rodgers’ favorite team.

I see Rodgers going to the Raiders, just like how last year I predicted that Tom Brady would go to the Buccaneers. It’s a match of coach and quarterback, team and financial fit, and the best possible situation for the NFL.

How should the Rams react to these rumors and the fact that 2021 has been the “Year of the Disgruntled QB”?

It’s easy to sit back and laugh at Green Bay’s situation and think, “Wow, glad that the Rams traded for a quarterback and not that they have to worry about losing the best player in the league!” But if ever there was a franchise that should be able to handle a Hall of Fame quarterback and a first round backup being on the same team, you’d think it would be the Packers.

If the Green Bay Packers can get into a mess with their starting quarterback, so too can every other team.

Though Rodgers has been harping on how “it’s about the people*”, it’s also about the money. It’s about the business. And the Rams do have to avoid potential pratfalls of the business given how often they are the franchise making “the biggest moves.” They also have a defensive player who is the closest thing the NFL has to a “non-Quarterback Quarterback.” Aaron Donald doesn’t only demand the most money of any non-QB, he also commands attention like a quarterback.

It seems to fit with the personality of Matthew Stafford though, a player who seems okay with leading in the fourth quarter of a game but then taking a backseat during the week and the offseason. That doesn’t make Stafford immune to wanting a hell of a lot of money, even if he has a hell of a lot of money.

Rodgers has a hell of a lot of money, but I believe this situation is because he wants a hell of a lot more. That’s okay, the NFL has a hell of a lot more money than him, but teams do need to prepare for these situations, especially when they set themselves up to be prepared for a QB holdout when they draft a QB in the first round. Rodgers wasn’t asleep at the wheel during his first three years in the NFL, when he was backing up Brett Favre. He took note of how that situation played out and sure enough, 15 years later, the franchise attempted to do it again.

The Rams have not drafted a quarterback since Jared Goff and the trade for Stafford should only result in one thing: a contract extension.

Once that happens, LA should be able to relax and take stock of where they are at, without having to worry about an “Aaron Rodgers situation” with Stafford for at least four years. How they handle business after that will heavily impact if and how they avoid a problem like this in the future, especially if Stafford becomes the type of MVP candidate that they hope he will become.

Aaron Rodgers represents both the highly-celebrated good, and the often-ignored risks, of being the best.

Poll

Where will Aaron Rodgers be playing in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Packers
    (168 votes)
  • 26%
    Broncos
    (151 votes)
  • 30%
    Raiders
    (174 votes)
  • 1%
    49ers
    (8 votes)
  • 3%
    Washington
    (20 votes)
  • 1%
    Patriots
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    Dolphins
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    Other
    (6 votes)
  • 6%
    He won’t play
    (37 votes)
579 votes total Vote Now

*When Aaron Rodgers went on this rant about “the people,” I was 100% positive that he’s talking about decentralization and cryptocurrency. As it turned out, Mayne mentioned at the end of the interview that Rodgers advised him to “go heavy into crypto.”

“I think sometimes people forget what really makes an organization, and history is important. Legacy of so many people who’ve come before you. But the people. That’s the most important thing. People make an organization. People make a business. And sometimes that gets forgotten. You know, culture is built brick by brick, the foundation of it, by the people. Not by the organization, not by the corporation, it’s built by the people.”

Rodgers repeats six more times that “it’s about the people.” He may also be referencing Bill Campbell, the former head football coach at Columbia, and arguably the most influential figure in the history of Silicon Valley and modern tech. Rodgers is a “permission-based manager” meaning that it is his job to make other people better. This is also, by definition, the job of every coach. So his focus is on making others better and that’s exactly what a great quarterback should be doing on every play.

Or he’s talking about taking power away from institutions and anarchy.