The Green Bay Packers should trade Aaron Rodgers.
President Mark Murphy should stop taking public digs at the “complicated fella” playing quarterback for his franchise — as Murphy did last Thursday at an event at Lambeau Field — and start focusing on the King’s ransom he might receive in a deal.
The Packers need to recognize how lucky they are here.
Most NFL franchises would kill to have a 37-year-old reigning MVP as a bargaining chip to help them restock their roster, sustain a certain level of success, and reset the clock on job security for folks in the front office.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are about to walk into the same trap with Ben Roethlisberger, 39, that the Giants did with Eli Manning: sticking with their longtime leader out of loyalty and hope, and risking enormous damage to the team’s future, as happened in New York.
It could be argued the Atlanta Falcons are making the same mistake by sticking with Matt Ryan, 36, too.
The Packers obviously would rather not trade Rodgers because it would make the team worse in 2021 than it was in 2020.
Even if Jordan Love played half decently at quarterback, the 2021 team would not be as competitive, would not win as many games, and would not reach a third straight NFC Championship.
GM Brian Gutekunst and coach Matt LaFleur know this, which is probably why they sound eager to patch things up.
Plus, if Rodgers replicated Tom Brady’s longevity with his next team — playing at a high level into his mid-40s as he supposedly intends to do — the Packers would have plenty of egg on their face.
But the reality is Green Bay already put its money on Rodgers not being Brady 2.0 by drafting Love in the 2020 first round. And while that has boxed them in and pushed Rodgers to reportedly want out, it has also afforded Green Bay the luxury of holding an unprecedented bargaining chip.
All-time great quarterbacks like Rodgers simply never hit the market. So unless Love absolutely cannot play, they hold all the cards here and could push all their chips to the middle of the table and cash in.
The San Francisco 49ers traded Joe Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993 at 36 years old. And the Niners had to include a 1994 third-round pick and safety David Whitmore just to get KC’s first-round pick (No. 18 overall) in return.
But Montana was at the end of his career, having played just one half of football the previous two seasons. Rodgers is coming off an MVP season and a second straight conference championship game appearance.
So it is hard to believe Green Bay couldn’t get two first-round picks in package back for Rodgers from a team that believes it is a QB away from competing immediately.
Washington and Denver come to mind right away: teams that have been in this offseason QB market the whole way and still haven’t fixed the position.
And speculating? New England would be an all-time revenge union if Bill Belichick and Rodgers really wanted to take Brady down a peg. Las Vegas would be fantastic theater.
Miami, Carolina and Philadelphia all could upgrade, but the Panthers and Eagles are more than a QB away, and would a 37-year-old be as attractive as 25-year-old Deshaun Watson had been before his numerous lawsuits?
The Rams would have been a great fit and might have happened if this had been resolved earlier, but without a clear path to land Rodgers in the spring, Sean McVay chose Matthew Stafford instead.
The most challenging part for Green Bay if it proceeds would be managing the Rodgers trade market once the team’s intentions got out. The second the Packers indicate to anyone that they’re willing to trade Rodgers, it will get out publicly and he will be as good as gone.
It’s possible that could damage their leverage and trade return. Still, Rodgers is playing at a high enough level that he should command a sufficient price in the end.
What, Washington owner Dan Snyder wouldn’t include a second first-rounder if that’s what it took to win the Rodgers sweepstakes? Of course he would.
Would Green Bay trade him within the NFC? Undoubtedly they would prefer not to, but they’d probably enjoy a Rodgers holdout from training camp and the regular season even less.
It only takes one buyer. So maybe Murphy could trade Rodgers back to the Washington franchise that he helped to a Super Bowl XVII victory on Jan. 30, 1983, as a defensive back who’d make first-team All-Pro the following fall.
After all, Murphy and the Packers have traded a “complicated” Super Bowl-winning quarterback before: Brett Favre.
Anyone who knows the Packers’ history, Rodgers included, knows that Green Bay should be the last franchise to talk when it comes to enabling complicated quarterbacks.
Favre was an all-time diva, constantly retiring and unretiring or delaying his decisions on upcoming seasons. Green Bay enabled it for years, keeping Rodgers on the bench from 2005-07.
But eventually the club said enough was enough and traded Favre at age 38 to the Jets in 2008, handing the ball to Rodgers, their 2005 first-round pick.
Now add the fact that Rodgers reportedly doesn’t want to play in Green Bay anymore.
Murphy has overseen the trade of a franchise icon before, and it isn’t a stretch to observe this escalating standoff and see Murphy doing so again.
Rodgers knows, as he told Pat McAfee in April, that “I may have thrown a wrench in some timelines that may have been thought about or desired.” He knows the Packers were moving on before he won his third MVP.
So it’s time for Green Bay to get maximum value in a deal and proceed with Love on a favorable QB rookie contract — unless, that is, they don’t think he can handle the job.
If they do trade Rodgers, it will mean that both Favre and Rodgers were traded coming off of home losses in NFC Championship games at Lambeau Field to the Giants and Buccaneers, respectively.
It will also be proof that sometimes relationships just run their course — especially the “complicated” ones.
2022 NFL mock draft: Way-too-early projections
1. Houston (100/1) — Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
2. Jacksonville (100/1) — Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon
3. Detroit (80/1) — Zach Harrison, Edge, Ohio State
4. Cincinnati (80/1) — Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
5. N.Y. Jets (80/1) — Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
6. Denver (66/1) — Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
7. Atlanta (66/1) — Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
Harris had 79 tackles — one behind Dylan Moses for the team lead — 4.5 sacks and an interception as a sophomore. Top needs: RB, Edge, LB
8. N.Y. Giants (66/1) — Drake Jackson, Edge, USC
Jackson can play in space or rush the passer off the edge. In 2019, he was the first true freshman to start a season opener for the Trojans on the defensive line since Everson Griffen in 2007 (and just the second since Tim Ryan in 1986). Top needs: OL, Edge, S
9. Washington (66/1) — Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
10. Philadelphia (50/1) — Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Elam took a step back after an impressive freshman campaign in 2019. He'll be hard to pass on as a 6-foot-2 corner with elite ball skills if he can fine-tune his technique and become a more reliable tackler. Top needs: CB, LB, OL
11. N.Y. Giants from Chicago (50/1) — Zion Nelson, OT, Miami
The 6-foot-5, 315 pound Nelson has developed into one of the premier pass blockers in college football. Top needs: OL, Edge, S
12. Carolina (50/1) — Evan Neal, OL, Alabama
The massive Neal — he's 6-foot-7, 360 pounds — played right guard as a freshman for the Crimson Tide before moving to right tackle in 2020. He'll replace first-round pick Alex Leatherwood at left tackle next season. Top needs: OL, LB, S
13. Las Vegas (50/1) — DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M
14. Arizona (40/1) — Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Cross is a powerful blocker who can do damage at the second level in the run game with premium athleticism and his target-lock awareness. Top-10 is a possibility if he develops as a pass protector. Top needs: OT, Edge, TE
15. Minnesota (40/1) — Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama
Jobe would have been a day two pick had he declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, but he decided to return to Tuscaloosa for a little bit more seasoning. Top needs: CB, S, WR
16. New England (30/1) — Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The Mission Hills product shunned millions of dollars to come back for his senior season in Columbus and will likely be a top-three prospect at the position in 2022. Top needs: WR, CB, OL
17. Pittsburgh (30/1) — JT Daniels, QB, Georgia
18. L.A. Chargers (30/1) — Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
19. Tennessee (25/1) — Cade Mays, OL, Tennessee
Mays has the talent and size (6-6, 325) to play all five positions on the offensive line. He's likely the most refined blocker in college football. Top needs: WR, LB, OL
20. Dallas (25/1) — Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan
Hutchinson suffered season-ending ankle surgery in 2020, but he was disruptive as a sophomore in 2019. He produced 4.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, six pass deflections and two forced fumbles. Top needs: Edge, OL, S
21. Cleveland (25/1) — Xavier Thomas, Edge, Clemson
This projection is based on Thomas' special talent, but he has to stay healthy and develop consistency. Top needs: Edge, WR, DT
22. Philadelphia from Miami (25/1) — Nik Bonitto, LB, Oklahoma
23. N.Y. Jets from Seattle (22/1) — Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State
Walker would have heard his name called had he declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, but his current developmental trajectory puts him as one of the first offensive lineman off the board in 2022. Top needs: CB, TE, S
24. Indianapolis (20/1) — Jon Metchie, WR, Alabama
Metchie could be the fifth Alabama wide receiver selected in the first round in three years. He had 916 yards on 55 receptions and six touchdowns in an offense dominated by Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris. He'll be Bryce Young's clear-cut number one target in the fall. Top needs: OT, WR, CB
25. New Orleans (18/1) — Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Davis would've likely been the first defensive tackle selected this year had he left school — Christian Barmore was selected by the Patriots in the second round with the 38th overall pick. Top needs: WR, DT, QB
26. Miami from San Francisco (14/1) — Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
27. Baltimore (12/1) — Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Linderbaum was recruited as a defensive lineman, but switched to the offensive line during bowl prep of his freshman season and has never looked back. He heads into the fall as the top center in college football. Top needs: OT, DL, C
28. Buffalo (12/1) — Sevyn Banks, CB, Ohio State
Every starting cornerback for the Buckeyes since 2013 have been drafted — seven in the first round. Banks has the physical traits and skillset to keep the party going. Top needs: CB, LB, WR
29. Detroit from L.A. Rams (12/1) — Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
30. Tampa Bay (10/1) — George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue
The pandemic limited Karlaftis to only three games last fall (he still had two sacks), but he was an AP Freshman All-American in 2019 after producing 7.5 sacks with 17 tackles for loss as a true freshman. Top needs: DL, WR, CB
31. Green Bay (9/1) — Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma
Winfrey's quickness makes him a disruptive force on the interior. He'll be the anchor of a potentially dominant Sooners defense this season. Top needs: LB, WR, DL