Green Bay Packers: Could Aaron Rodgers Come Back as a Backup?
If Green Bay Packers' President Mark Murphy's comments are an accurate depiction of the team's mindset, Green Bay is ready to start Jordan Love in 2023. However, they still have one problem, Aaron Rodgers is still on the roster.
The most likely scenario at this stage is Rodgers either choses to retire or will agree to be traded to the New York Jets, a team that has been given permission to speak to him and seems to be pulling out all the stops to have him come east. But with Rodgers remaining quiet about where he is in his thought process, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding both of those possibilities. And if he decides he doesn't want to retire but also doesn't want to play for the Jets (or they find another option before he makes his decision), Rodgers could remain a Packer one more year.
If Green Bay truly wanted to move on, they would normally have the option to just cut Rodgers and give him an opportunity to sign with another team. This would seem like a nuclear option because they would receive a severe cap penalty and nothing in return. Plus, they would run the risk of him signing with a rival, much like Brett Favre did when he eventually wound up with the Minnesota Vikings.
The more likely decision would be to just keep Rodgers on the roster for one more year. But, if that were to happen, would they move forward with Love or would they keep their future on the bench one more season?
Just having Rodgers back at all seems like a nightmare scenario at this point. There has been a growing divide between the quarterback and the front office for the past couple of years and Murphy's comments likely ripped that wound even further open. Starting an unproven Love over a 4-time MVP could potentially create locker room problems, especially with players like star running back Aaron Jones publicly stating they would prefer Rodgers.
That being said, there is an argument for pulling the trigger and benching Rodgers in favor of their 2020 first round pick, especially since Rodgers is coming off one of his worst seasons. He will be entering year four of his rookie contract and likely has already developed as far as he can without actually being on the field. Having the threat of the former MVP still being on the team would add some stress to the situation but that added pressure also could help Love in the long run. After all, Rodgers didn't have the threat of Favre still being on the roster his first season as a starter, but the team's use of a second-round pick on Brian Brohm and a 7th rounder on Matt Flynn did give the team options if he was a flop.
The other concern is the impact a Rodgers return under center would have on Love's future with the team. He won't have any leverage to negotiate a trade but that doesn't mean the team choosing to start a quarterback they obviously no longer want wouldn't hurt them down the road, when his contract is set to expire following the 2024 season (assuming they pick up his 5th-year option). There are obviously no guarantees Love will continue the quarterback stability this team has had for the past 30 years but there's also no benefit to alienating him before he gets a chance to prove himself.
Ultimately, the Packers front office better be praying for Rodgers to make a decision that won't force them to make that choice.