Just as the trade speculation around Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson quieted, Aaron Rodgers filled the void.
Rodgers has stopped short of formally demanding a trade, but he has let the Packers know he does not want to return, according to various reports during the NFL Draft. The Packers have Rodgers under contract through 2023 and could call his bluff by sticking to their repeated plan not to trade him.
What’s Rodgers’ leverage? Well, he could decide to sit out the season or even retire and be available as full-time “Jeopardy” host. Then the Packers will have received nothing in return for a player who, if traded, would be worth multiple high draft picks and/or players who can help develop 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love.
So, if the Packers reverse course and Rodgers gets his wish, where could he wind up? Here are the five most likely places:
1. Denver Broncos
NFL on FOX analyst Mark Schlereth – a former Broncos offensive lineman – reported Friday that a deal was close to done with the Broncos, who are thought to be one of Rodgers’ preferred destinations. Then the Broncos made the No. 9 pick instead of trading it, but curiously passed on a rookie quarterback for cornerback Patrick Surtain. Keeping options open just in case?
Schlereth’s report got Rodgers’ attention, as he texted, “Who’s your source? What you hearing?” according to Schlereth on “The Pat McAfee Show.” Like any journalist, Schlereth wouldn’t reveal a source, but identified the person as a ‘“very reliable source outside of Denver, someone who has never steered me wrong. Told me this thing is heating up and close to a done deal.”
The Broncos have Drew Lock in a make-or-break third season and just acquired veteran Teddy Bridgewater to provide competition.
2. Las Vegas Raiders
Coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr are like an old married couple tolerating each other because no better options have come along.
Every time a star quarterback becomes available, the Raiders are connected. And every time they stick with Carr, who made the last of his three Pro Bowls in 2017 – before Gruden’s return – and is 47-63 as a starter. Rodgers is “intrigued” by the Raiders, according to ESPN.
3. Miami Dolphins
Insert Rodgers on this roster and you have a Super Bowl contender. What a remarkable turnaround from talk of a perceived tank to go 0-16 in 2019, when they actually finished 5-11.
The Packers played with fire by not trading Rodgers for draft picks during the window when the order was known for the 2021 NFL Draft. Trading for 2022 picks means the possibility of landing a highly valuable top-five pick or a pick at the bottom of the first round worth about 1/3 as much. The Dolphins have three first-rounders and two second-rounders over the next two years to move.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
Would the Packers trade Rodgers in conference? Probably not.
But general manager Howie Roseman is one of the boldest traders around. He just made a trade with the hated Cowboys. The Eagles seem committed to quarterback Jalen Hurts for now, but his contract is relatively peanuts if demoted to the backup he was supposed to be when Carson Wentz was there. They have three first-rounders over the next two years. Would Rodgers welcome life on the East Coast?
5. San Francisco 49ers
This made a ton of sense Friday and not much sense after the No. 3 pick in the 2021 Draft was announced. The 49ers are the hometown team who passed on Rodgers in the 2005 NFL Draft. But they just traded two future first-round picks for Trey Lance to be their quarterback of the future. That means less available assets to deal for Rodgers unless the Packers wanted Lance, which would defeat the purpose of having Love.
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