Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers, and the holding of cards

There seems to be a lot of discussion about Aaron Rodgers and his contract with the Green Bay Packers, and how those concepts interact moving into the near future. In particular, I started writing in response to a Reddit thread where the discussion kept going back and forth over who was holding which cards. 

To be clear, the Packers are holding the trump card: a contract that says Rodgers will play for them. The one and card Rodgers holds is his Jeopardy and/or NFL analyst fallback career should he choose not to play football.

So the question becomes how these cards get played… get finessed for maximal value by both sides. First card played… I don’t think the Packers trade Rodgers, I think they hold him to his contract and make him show up and play or retire. The value equation seems simple… the Packers are already in the process of preparing for the post-Rodgers era: his retirement at this point is an unfortunate early departure of a valued long-time contributor, but a trade would be a cap-costly, asset-gambling game that shows little respect for that same valued long-time contributor.

I see no reasonable value the Packers could possibly get in a trade, so letting Rodgers pick his poison and play as a Packer or retire to Jeopardy seems like the only play.

So… we find ourselves considering the mental state of Aaron Rodgers. We know competition is important to him, we know loyalty is important to him… if faced with the obvious question “do I show up for the Packers or not play football at all,” what would he say?

I… really don’t think I have any insight to predict Rodgers’ decision. I do have thoughts on what his possible decisions might say about him as a football player and a human being, and maybe vice-versa. 

Most importantly, I think his “feeling disrespected” stance is unearned posturing. The Packers are the the Packers. Feeling personally disrespected that someone else is earning a job exactly the way you earned your job more than a decade ago seems to be the height of egocentrism. Casting glances at Mr. Brady in Tampa is likewise attempting to curry credit for that which you did not do… Tom Brady was Mr. Effing Patriot till the day his contract ran out, he earned his right to determine his next contract. Rodgers simply has not put in that work: he’s got years left on his contract, and he seems to be actively advocating for specific hiring authority wildly inappropriate for his current position.

Put simply, Rodgers’ current position seems to be that of a toddler throwing a tantrum.  My best guess is that, given the rationality of his NFL situation, Rodgers will abandon it completely. That’s what he has actually earned thus far, a public media notoriety substantial enough to finance his foreseeable wants and needs, football fields notwithstanding.

What are the possible monkey wrenches that could be thrown into the fine machinery of my processing to this point? Some team could make a good enough offer that the assets gained actually offset the cap consequences of trading Rodgers. The Broncos keep getting mentioned in this conversation… and I understand, but I don’t.

First off, I simply do not see the upside of trading for Aaron Rodgers at this point in his career. I acknowledge his skills are proving stronger, thus far, than the expected declines of age. That will necessarily change at some point forthcoming. Realistically, I absolutely cannot justify trading the amount of assets that would be needed to make the Packers seriously consider eating the cap consequences of such a trade. Basically, if you are a team that would benefit from having Rodgers on your team… you will be asked to trade precisely those assets that made you a good choice in the first place, for the honor. This would, in the very best of situations, ultimately be a sidewise move… with a significantly near-future expiration date.

I just don’t see anyone with a legitimate use for Rodgers who can make a deal worth Green Bay’s cap hit. I can’t imagine where a monkey wrench meaningful enough would come from in this NFL.

So Aaron gets to play for the Packers, or read for Jeopardy: his choice. I think that’s the way these cards have to play out.