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The Packers want everyone (specifically Aaron Rodgers) to know they tried to make a trade

Aaron Rodgers acknowledged the Packers' deadline deals “didn’t pan out,” which leads Mike Florio and Chris Simms to explore why it’s unlikely Green Bay could be a Super Bowl team this year.

After the Packers failed to step up and trade for receiver Chase Claypool, a year after the Packers failed to step up and sign receiver Odell Beckham Jr., it was suggested (it sounds better with the passive voice, since I suggested it) that the Packers don’t really want to make those deals.

As the theory that was suggested (by me) goes, the Packers simply want quarterback Aaron Rodgers to think they’re trying. Even if the effort is half-assed, half-hearted, and/or hoof-hearted.

Today, there’s more circumstantial evidence to bolster the notion that the Packers simply want to be perceived as making the effort, even if they had no real desire to make a deal. Most notably, there are Simultaneous Sunday Splash! reports from both NFL Media and ESPN that the Packers tried to trade for Raiders tight end Darren Waller prior to Tuesday’s deadline.

Rule of thumb. When the two leading sources for Sunday Splashes! have the exact same report, someone really wants to get the word out. And while it’s possibly Waller’s camp that is spreading the news, that would make no sense. If Waller wanted out, news of interest in him elsewhere would have emerged before the trade deadline, in the hopes of basically leaking a trade into existence. At this point, Waller gains nothing by creating the impression that he hopes to get gone.

Instead, these bread crumbs trace back to the Packers, and a deliberate effort to persuade those on the outside (or one very important person on the inside) that they made a genuine effort to upgrade the receiving corps for the stretch run.

Consider the ledes from the two leading articles.

“The Green Bay Packers were unable to pull off any deals before last Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort,” Adam Schefter of writes.

“The Packers stood pat at the trade deadline. . . . However, it wasn’t for a lack of trying,” NFL Media declares.

Schefty also reports (i.e., was asked by the Packers to say out loud) that Green Bay offered for Claypool both a second-round pick and a late-round pick. It’s a detail that pushes back against the argument that, if the Steelers picked Chicago over Green Bay because Pittsburgh believed the Bears would have a higher second-round pick, why didn’t Green Bay try to sweeten the pot?

Again, they want us all (including Rodgers) to know that they did.

Publicly, Rodgers said all the right things about the team’s failure to finalize a trade. Indeed, both articles conclude with the quotes from the quarterback that seem to endorse the decision to stick with the status quo.

Privately, who knows what Rodgers has said? And to those who’d say he’s currently not bashful about airing out dirty laundry, Rodgers was heavily criticized for calling out unnamed teammates for making mental mistakes on 20 percent of all snaps only one week earlier. It was arguably too soon to remind everyone of his surprising late-career heel turn.

Regardless, the Packers are putting in plenty of effort to make sure it’s widely known that they tried to make a deal. If they’d tried that hard to actually make a deal before the deadline came and went, maybe they would have.