Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers were eliminated from the NFL playoffs on Saturday night following a last-second loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
But this is just the beginning of another long offseason that will be filled with Rodgers drama.
Rodgers, who has a 11-10 playoff record with one Super Bowl win (and appearance) in his career, hinted at potentially skipping town in his postgame press conference. This comes after he reportedly requested a trade last offseason and held out of minicamp before eventually returning for training camp before the start of the 2021 NFL season.
Now, the 38-year-old reigning MVP could be on the move. Here’s everything you need to know heading into Rodgers’ uncertain offseason:
What did Aaron Rodgers say in his press conference?
The Packers quarterback was his usual self after the 13-10 loss. That is to say, he said a lot of words without really saying anything meaningful. We didn’t get any clarity on the situation, but we are able to infer that changes could be coming to Green Bay.
Here’s what Rodgers said immediately after the game:
“I'm going to take some time and have conversations with folks around here, and then take some time away and make a decision – obviously before free agency or anything gets going on that front. It's fresh right now. A little shocking for sure. I was hoping to have a nice weekend for the NFC Championship, to enjoy the lead-up and then start contemplating some things, so I haven't even let the moment really sink in yet.”
When asked if the disappointing final result would influence his decision-making this offseason, Rodgers was clear:
“Of course it does. But you know there are a lot of decisions to be made, a lot of players whose futures are up in the air. Definitely will be interesting to see which way some of those decisions go. But I'll have conversations with (GM) Brian (Gutekunst) in the next week or so and get a little bit more clarity. And think about my own future and how much longer I want to keep doing this.”
The Packers, who enter the offseason nearly $45 million above the salary cap, have a number of key free agents – including Davante Adams, De’Vondre Campbell and others. It’s going to be next to impossible to retain the same roster, and Rodgers is aware of that.
“I think this thing is definitely going to look different moving forward,” Rodgers said. “Green Bay has a lot of decisions, a lot of guys with opportunities. So it will be interesting to see what things look like moving forward. But I am thankful for this time, for this team. Super disappointed. Bummed out. Frustrated with how I played tonight. Frustrated with how it ended. But can still be grateful for this season and these guys.
“But there are a lot of decisions to be made. Key players, a lot of guys who played tonight… so many guys whose contracts are up or on the brink or salary cap stuff. So, a lot of decisions to be made. I don't want to be part of a rebuild if I'm going to keep playing. So a lot of decisions in the next couple of months.”
Where will Aaron Rodgers play in 2022?
Rodgers is not a pending free agent. He and the Packers agreed to a restructured contract last summer. In that deal, a void year was added for 2023 – meaning he would be able to enter free agency and be ineligible for the franchise tag after next season. The contract was also structured so that the Packers would save nearly $20 million against the cap if Rodgers is traded before June 2022. Based on that language, many have speculated that he will seek a trade this offseason.
Here’s where Rodgers could play next season, as plenty of teams will likely be eager to secure the services of the future Hall of Famer:
It’s clear that the Broncos are a quarterback away from contention. The roster is loaded with young talent on both sides of the ball – Javonte Williams, Cortland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy on offense, Bradley Chubb, Patrick Surtain II and Justin Simmons on defense. Denver went 7-10 despite quarterback woes, with Teddy Bridgewater starting 14 games and Drew Lock starting three. Rodgers would immediately make the Broncos a playoff team, similar to what Peyton Manning did in the second chapter of his career.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders, like the Broncos, are still searching for a head coach. Unlike their AFC West foe, Las Vegas was a playoff team in 2021. Led by Derek Carr and interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, the Raiders made an unlikely postseason appearance before losing to the Bengals in the wild card round. Carr has proven to be a reputable starter, but Rodgers would raise Las Vegas’ ceiling in a division that includes Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.
New York Giants
Why would a star quarterback want to play for the Giants? It would have to be the New York market, I guess, because this franchise has been a disaster for five years. The Giants have had just one winning season since 2012 after winning the Super Bowl in 2007 and 2011. Newly hired GM Joe Schoen could make an immediate splash with a Rodgers trade, but the roster likely isn’t ready to contend for a title.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints are always in the offseason conversation, and rightfully so. Sean Payton is one of the best head coaches in the NFL, which he proved yet again in 2021. Without Drew Brees for the first time, New Orleans was 5-2 before Jameis Winston got hurt and still finished 9-8 with Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian splitting QB duties. Imagine what this team could do with Rodgers at the helm? The biggest hurdle could be cap constraints, as New Orleans has even less cap room than Green Bay.
After 18 seasons with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, the Steelers are searching for a new signal caller. Big Ben is likely to retire, and Pittsburgh’s current quarterbacks – Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins and Joshua Dobbs – probably aren’t the long-term answer. The Steelers made the playoffs with a limited Roethlisberger thanks to a great defense and solid skill position players. Rodgers would fit right in with this group, perhaps presenting his best opportunity to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since he beat the Steelers back in 2010.
Washington Football Team
Washington made the postseason in 2020 with a hodgepodge of quarterbacks before going 7-10 in 2021 with Taylor Heinicke at the helm. The defense is still talented, as Chase Young will be returning from injury in 2022. Terry McLaurin is also a legit No. 1 option at wide receiver, and Antonio Gibson proved his worth yet again in 2021. Rodgers could bring the team back to glory in its first season with the new team name, which will be unveiled in February.
Green Bay Packers
Of course we can’t rule this option out. It would be classic Rodgers to stir the pot for weeks, only to return to the only place he’s ever known. The Packers could opt not to trade him, which would force Rodgers to decide between playing for Green Bay, retirement or holding out before reaching free agency in 2023. It’s hard to deny that this remains his best chance at winning, with a strong defense, great coaching staff and impressive weapons.
Will Aaron Rodgers retire?
Maybe. Or maybe not. Who really knows? Based on some of his comments on Saturday night, it definitely seems like a possibility. These two sentences stood out:
“And think about my own future and how much longer I want to keep doing this.”
“I don't want to be part of a rebuild if I'm going to keep playing.”
If Rodgers does retire, no one really knows what the QB will do with all that space time. His 10-day stint as a guest host on Jeopardy! was well-received at the time. Since then, though, he soiled his reputation with his COVID-19 vaccine denial and disinformation. It’s unclear if that would remain an option. The only thing that is clear with Rodgers moving forward is that we don’t know a thing. Until his next move is officially confirmed, anything is on the table.
Let the speculation begin.