Green Bay Packers: Rodgers Doesn't Deserve Media Criticism
The NFL is a business. That's something NFL general managers and coaches remind us of whenever they decide to part ways with a popular player to save some money. Yet, when the shoe is on the other foot, fans can sometimes get a little upset when a player doesn't take a "hometown discount" to stick around. Plus, the media can sometimes be a little bit cruel too.
This is especially true of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Ever since announcing plans to go on a "darkness retreat" to decide his future plans, Rodgers has been the subject of everything from jokes at his expense to media criticism about him holding the team hostage and putting himself ahead of his team. That is simply not fair.
Does Rodgers' indecision hurt the Packers? Yes. Until he makes a decision that lets them know he plans to retire or gives them permission to trade him, they are on the hook for the $50 million in guaranteed money he is owed in 2023. This means they need to plan around that by restructuring contracts, not resigning some core players and likely not being active in free agency. His decision delay also likely will reduce his trade value as quarterback-needy teams are encouraged to look elsewhere rather than wait and be reluctant about giving up valuable draft picks for a player who may not be "all-in." However, if you're going to blame somebody for that, blame the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers decision to trade up and draft Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 draft should have been the start of the team's transition to a younger passer. Love, for his part, hasn't had a lot of playing time but has shown promise. However, the Packers at times have acted like they've had second thoughts about the pick and their actions make them seem like a team that is almost scared to move on from a still talented but aging Rodgers.
The Packers didn't need to sign Rodgers to a massive and crippling contract extension last season. They could have either traded him while he was a hot commodity (back-to-back MVP seasons), worked around the cap implications of his final contract year (knowing they could slap the franchise tag on him if they wanted to keep him beyond that) or let him retire. All of those options seemed even more logical when Davante Adams insisted on being traded to the Oakland Raiders and they would enter a season without their biggest playmaker. They would have taken some lumps in what would have been an obvious rebuild year but would also have had a clear path to the next generation.
Instead, the team chose to muddy the waters with the extension. Perhaps they were counting on Rodgers retiring. Or maybe they think Love is a draft bust. We'll probably never know their reason. Regardless of that reason, however, they painted themselves into a corner because the guaranteed money prevents them from cutting Rodgers and puts them in a position where they have zero leverage. He could wait all the way up to the first day of training camp to make up his mind, and they can't do a thing about it. That is a deal you make when you're desperate, not when you are trying to do what's best for your organization.
Again, the NFL is a business and because of that, it is hard to fault Rodgers and his agent for making sure his contract extension gives him that kind of power. After all, when it comes to the team, it is a decision that is solely about money over the short term. For a player, it is also about securing financial security for the after-football years and the aches and pains that come from the punishment they took on the field. If the Packers were desperate enough to agree to that kind of money without any sort of clause that gives them some leverage (such as a clause that states when he needs to make a decision by) that's on them.
So, if you're a fan or media personality who is angry about this Aaron Rodgers situation, make sure that anger is directed at the right entity.