Rodgers: Time to Play Hard Ball
A lot has been said and written about whether Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will arrive or not next week at the team’s training camp in Wisconsin. Pundits have reported that anything short of Green Bay making adjustments to the reigning MVP’s contract that allows him to walk at the end of the year, will probably result in a prolonged holdout by Rodgers.
The fact that this “life preserver” scenario is being floated by members of the media, with confidence, tells me that it's actually probably coming from the Rodgers camp. Let’s face it, agendas are at work here. It’s doubtful that the Packers will make their plans or ideas public.
This, to me, has always been a mismanaged relationship. It’s about a QB with a “diva” style, who is a bit complicated, determining who controls the exit timing and calendar of his career in Green Bay.
Comparisons have been made to how the ageless QB, Tom Brady, exited New England. The most relevant difference, IMO, is that Brady planned for and acted accordingly on his exit some years in advance. He and agent, Don Yee, accepted certain ramifications that would, in the end, give him total control of his exit strategy. Rodgers’ situation differs because he agreed to and signed a four-year, $134 million, contract extension during the preseason in 2018. Yes, that was before the drafting of his heir apparent Jordan Love but come on.
Nobody forced him to sign that contract extension. At the time, he obviously valued the deal as being worth it when compared to playing out his contract and entering free agency like Brady did. At the time he signed the extension, Rodgers had two years left on his current contract. If he had used the same strategy as Brady, he’d probably already have moved on from Green Bay. For this reason, I think the two scenarios are totally different for both players.
If the Packers acquis and strike future years from Rodgers’ contract, things could get more complicated. The team would have giant salary cap consequences (signing bonus acceleration is only part of it) and any trade value that comes with a player being under contract would be completely wiped out. The Packers have paid a substantial price to gain future years of free agency from Rodgers. That’s the way pro sports work. Rodgers’ contract, in its current state, is a true asset and creates trade value.
I, for one, don’t think the Packers should eliminate the future contract years. If its true, as was reported by The Athletic, that Green Bay offered to make Rodgers the highest paid QB at $45 million a year and he turned it down and the structure/guarantees were fair, this team has only one choice to make over the next few weeks— LET HIM SIT.
I think offering the new deal to Rodgers was Green Bay’s only and best move. If what has been reported is true, its probably how President Mark Murphy and GM Brian Gutekunst sleep at night. If the Packers were indeed willing to do this, that shows respect for Rodgers and it also shows a willingness to delay a commitment to their QB of the future, Jordan Love, for now. I think it shows that they believe Rodgers is capable of playing at a very high level into the future. That should be good enough.
Sure, he is their best player and he gives their team a totally different set of expectations when he’s in camp and playing at MVP levels, like we last saw him. But I would not give up the value they have in him and his contract. I would rather allow him to sit out all year, if he chooses, as opposed to reducing the length of his deal and letting him walk away for nothing after this season. I just can’t see why the Packers would do Rodgers a “solid” and set a precedent by ripping up a contract and making a short-sighted, bad business decision, when they know that’s not what’s best for the team.
Rodgers can’t trade himself. Currently, the Packers still control this narrative. I’ll say it again. I would not trade him at this time. If Rodgers truly does not want to play, so-be-it. By offering him the extension, the Packers have done what they could to try and make him happy. If he does show up, he may indeed be a distraction, but that will eventually pass. If it becomes an unprofessional relationship, the Packers can always reassess and have some other options as well vi the CBA. For now, I’m staying the course if I were them. The team can live within the provisions in the CBA and what his current contract provides. He will have just as much trade value in October as he does in July.
Let the chips fall where they may, its time to play ball.