Green Bay Packers: It won't Be Easy, But It's Time to Move on from Aaron Rodgers
There is an old adage that hints it is better to get rid of a player too early than too late. As the Packers sit at home this post season for the first time in four years, that philosophy should apply to Aaron Rodgers.
I'm not going to lie; I thought Rodgers and the Packers would make me eat crow when I predicted they wouldn't make the playoffs. That was quite a run they had, right up until the point the Detroit Lions eliminated them. And that last-second push might result in many believing it is worth bringing Rodgers back for another year. I'm not one of those people who believe that.
Look, it's never easy parting ways with a star player, especially a hall-of-famer at the most important position in football. There are also no guarantees Jordan Love will be able to fill Rodgers' shoes or won't be a draft bust. But if you're going to make a change, now is the time to do it.
For one, while I'm sure there are unmeasurable factors that also played a role, Rodgers' impact during that playoff push was actually kind of minimal. Rodgers averaged just 202 yards and 1 touchdown in each game of the Packers' 4-game winning streak and those wins were as much the result of solid defensive play and a successful run game than any magic he performed.
There also wasn't anything in those games to indicate Rodgers would have been able to put the team on his shoulders and will them to a win, as would have been the case years ago. In other words, this team showed it can win without Rodgers playing at a high level and has young talent that will only get better, which makes it a perfect environment for a new starter next season.
In comparison, bringing Rodgers back for one more year means the team is on the hook for his $50 million plus in guaranteed money, creating a salary cap situation that will possibly result in the Packers having to part ways with valuable players like Aaron Jones and David Bakhtiari and gutting the core of the roster. Even if it is just for one more year, the team could be starting over from scratch by the time Love takes over in 2024.
Of course, Rodgers' contract will play a role in the Packers' decision because the guaranteed money makes it impossible for them to cut him. If Rodgers doesn't make things easier by retiring, the Packers only option is to find a trade partner and those options might be limited, especially since Rodgers can always threaten to retire if he doesn't like the team.
I'm also not convinced Coach Matt LaFleur and GM Brian Gutekunst will be willing to pull the trigger. This was their first losing season and their jobs likely aren't on the hot seat yet. However, they know what they have with Rodgers and may not be willing to roll the dice on Love if they think their job security is on the line.
Ultimately, assuming he is relatively healthy, having Rodgers as the starter for one more year won't necessarily be a bad thing and he may even find enough magic to will them back to the post season. However, the longer he sticks around, the more likely this team will be forced to rebuild once he does call it quits.