Is it likely that Aaron Rodgers moves on from the Packers after taking them to the precipice of a Super Bowl?
The Packers would be crazy to move on from Rodgers, even after drafting his eventual replacement, Jordan Love, in the first round last spring. Rodgers is about to win the league's Most Valuable Player award, and the team would absorb a massive cap hit if they were to deal him -- particularly painful given that the league's salary cap is about to crater.
"There's no way in heck Aaron is not gonna be on the Packers," Packers CEO Mark Murphy said Monday. "He's going to be the MVP of the league, might have had his best year ever, he's our unquestioned leader, and we're not idiots."
But what if it's not up to the Packers?
Rodgers didn't want to speak in absolutes after losing the NFC Championship Game last weekend, apparently leaving the door open for a parting of ways between him and the team that drafted him in 2005. He amended those comments Tuesday on the Pat McAfee Show to say he didn't think there was "any reason why I wouldn't be back."
Noted. But that's not exactly slamming the door shut on speculation, either. And when asked about revisiting his contract, Rodgers acknowledged that he'd talk to Packers brass this offseason. He's looking for a touch-up there, according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.
If the Packers can't get something done with their star quarterback in his late-30s, does that speed up whatever breakup is looming? And might that precipitate a trade?
If it does, the Patriots probably shouldn't be involved. Not because they couldn't use him. Of course they could. But coming off one of his best seasons, Rodgers would be a hot commodity.
A team that feels as though it's a quarterback away, say the Colts, might be willing to move heaven and earth in order to bring him aboard. Putting Rodgers in a dome? In a warm-weather division? Tom Brady once told me he felt as though Rodgers had an argument to be considered the most efficient quarterback ever. He might only get better in that environment, regardless of his age.
Moving heaven and earth to bring Rodgers to another cold-weather environment with very little in the way of cheap young offensive talent? Nonsensical.
Just for kicks, what exactly would be the return in a deal for a player of Rodgers' talents anyway?
Even at this stage of his career, one would think he's worth multiple first-round picks. He has that kind of league-shifting power. And if the likelihood is that Matthew Stafford, going into his 33-year-old season, is worth a first . . . that means Rodgers should be worth a few.
While Rodgers, if available, would make sense for the Colts or a team like the Broncos with a promising group of young pass-catchers, the Patriots aren't in that conversation. They have so many portions of the roster they need to address, going after Rodgers with multiple first-rounders -- and then paying him whatever it is he's worth -- would seem to be a backwards approach to roster-building.
The better plan? Deal a first for Stafford. Better still? Deal No. 15 overall and a little more to try to creep up this year's draft board and select one of the top-four passers available.
Possessing a talented quarterback on a rookie contract is a roster-building skeleton key for which it'd be worth sacrificing multiple draft choices. The money saved at that position would allow the Patriots to then build around that young quarterback with established vets. Just look at what the Bills have done with Josh Allen or what the Chiefs have done with Patrick Mahomes.
Rodgers is great. Still. But if things fell apart between him and the Packers, he still wouldn't make a great deal of sense for the Patriots.