Given the present state of the New England Patriots’ quarterback room, anticipate them to be linked to each obtainable (or doubtlessly obtainable) signal-caller over the following two months.
As of Sunday night, that record now consists of Aaron Rodgers.
After his Inexperienced Bay Packers have been bounced within the NFC Championship Recreation for the second consecutive 12 months — this time to Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Rodgers made waves with a number of stunning and unprompted remarks in his postgame video convention.
“All the fellows’ futures are unsure, myself included,” Rodgers mentioned in response to a query about receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. “There are numerous unknowns going into this offseason, and I’m going to need to take a while away, for positive, and clear my head and simply type of see what’s happening with all the pieces.”
Rodgers, who nearly definitely will take house NFL MVP honors for the third time after having fun with certainly one of his greatest seasons but at age 37, is below contract with the Packers by means of 2023. However his feedback counsel the concept of a commerce request has not less than entered his thoughts.
Some, like NFL Media’s Mike Silver, seen these as Rodgers “flexing his energy and sending a message” to a corporation that controversially traded as much as draft a quarterback (Jordan Love) within the first spherical final spring slightly than including a participant who might assist its present one. Rodgers led the league in a bunch of passing classes this season however had fewer top-end weapons at his disposal than, say, Brady or AFC champion Patrick Mahomes.
Rodgers additionally mentioned he wasn’t conscious head coach Matt LaFleur would make the baffling choice to kick a discipline purpose late in Sunday’s loss, illustrating a disconnect between QB and play-caller in a key second.
“When he spoke,” Silver wrote Monday, “I consider he delivered a message to his bosses, one I’d roughly translate thusly: Your method of doing enterprise has to vary, or possibly I needs to be on my method.“
A Packers-Rodgers breakup is certainly not a forgone conclusion. And since neither of Rodgers’ backups — Love and second-stringer Tim Boyle, who can be a restricted free agent — has ever thrown an NFL move, Inexperienced Bay will do all the pieces it will probably to maintain its famous person QB.
But when Rodgers does change into obtainable, would a transfer to the Patriots be a sensible risk? Let’s break it down:
In 2018, Rodgers signed a four-year, $134 million extension that included a report $57.5 million signing bonus. He has three years remaining on that deal, and jettisoning him now would have main wage cap implications for Inexperienced Bay.
Buying and selling Rodgers earlier than June 1 would clear about $6 million in wage cap area however depart behind $31.5 million in useless cash, in accordance with Spotrac. That’s an absurd quantity in a typical 12 months, by no means thoughts one by which the cap can be considerably decrease than anticipated on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ready till after June 1 to execute a commerce would depart useless cap costs of $14.4 million in 2021 and $17.2 million in 2022 whereas releasing up $23.2 million in 2021 cap area. Doing so would imply paying Rodgers his $6.8 million roster bonus, nonetheless, which is due March 19.
Rodgers is ready to hold a cap hit of $37.6 million in 2021 — third-highest within the NFL behind Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger — however a commerce would drop that quantity to round $22 million for the workforce that acquires him, per Patriots cap skilled Miguel Benzan.
$37M is loads however $37M wouldn’t be Aaron Rodgers’ 2021 speedy cap quantity for his new workforce. That will be round $22M. After all, that $22M might later be decreased. https://t.co/DuS16AkaNl
— 2021 Cap Area ~ 60M (@patscap) January 25, 2021
With the Patriots boasting upward of $60 million in obtainable cap area — and doubtlessly extra if Stephon Gilmore is traded or any of their 2020 opt-outs select to retire — they might have greater than sufficient room to accumulate Rodgers and nonetheless handle their varied different roster wants.
Rodgers’ Packers predecessor, Brett Favre, misplaced within the NFC title recreation in 2007, then was traded to the New York Jets for a conditional draft decide that in the end grew to become a third-rounder. Favre was 39 on the time and was superb in ’07, however his and Rodgers’ conditions aren’t notably comparable.
Favre’s commerce got here in August after months of retirement controversy, and Inexperienced Bay was prepared to maneuver on with Rodgers, who’d backed up Favre for the earlier three seasons. Love could be the Packers’ QB of the long run, however after he didn’t play in any respect as a rookie, they’ll’t confidently enter subsequent season with the untested Utah State product as their prime possibility.
So, what’s Rodgers’ commerce worth? That’s troublesome to mission. Given his age, he wouldn’t be as dear as 25-year-old Deshaun Watson — who might fetch the Houston Texans three or extra first-round picks — however he’s extra precious than Matthew Stafford, who’s 4 years youthful however by no means has reached Rodgers’ stage of play. (Watson reportedly desires out of Houston, and Stafford just lately requested a commerce from the Detroit Lions.)
Would it not take two first-round picks to commerce for Rodgers? A primary and one other decide? A primary and a participant? No matter it’s, don’t anticipate a discount.
The Patriots at present personal the fifteenth total choice and their very own decide within the second spherical (No. 47). They misplaced their third-rounder as punishment for videotaping the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline in 2019 however are anticipated to obtain a third-round compensatory decide for dropping Brady in free company (plus two fourths for Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins).
In contrast to Watson’s, Rodgers’ contract doesn’t embody a no-trade clause, so the Packers theoretically might ship him to any workforce they want.
Would Invoice Belichick like to have Aaron Rodgers on his workforce? Completely.
Rodgers is without doubt one of the biggest quarterbacks in NFL historical past and could be probably the most bodily proficient signal-caller Belichick has ever coached, even at his superior age. In line with ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, Brady as soon as instructed an NFL coach that Rodgers “would throw for 7,000 yards yearly” in New England’s offense.
“He has nice accuracy,” Belichick mentioned earlier than the latest Patriots-Packers assembly in 2018. “Very cell within the pocket. He extends performs. Actually good imaginative and prescient down the sector. Makes use of the cadence effectively. He’s an excellent situational participant. He’s simply one of many nice quarterbacks within the Nationwide Soccer League. No query about it.”
The Patriots want so as to add expertise at large receiver and tight finish no matter who their subsequent QB is — keep in mind how Brady appeared in 2019 when New England had no viable pass-catchers exterior of Julian Edelman and James White — but when they make the requisite roster strikes, Rodgers might immediately launch them again into Tremendous Bowl competition.
It’s value questioning, although, how the opinionated Rodgers would take to Belichick’s demanding teaching model. And giving up one thing within the neighborhood of two first-round picks for a 37-year-old quarterback could be a particular gamble, particularly for a workforce with holes at a number of different spots.
Ought to the Patriots inquire about Rodgers if he hits the commerce block? Sure. one hundred pc. He’s a surefire Corridor of Famer who’s coming off among the finest years of his profession. However at this level, a break up nonetheless appears unlikely.
If we have been handicapping the Patriots’ QB hunt, we’d give each Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo considerably increased odds of touchdown in New England.
Thumbnail photograph by way of Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports activities Photos