The Green Bay Packers face an uncertain NFL off-season regarding the future of Aaron Rodgers. The veteran quarterback has made no qualms about his desire to leave and refuses to commit his future to the franchise. It would take a sizeable trade deal for Rodgers to leave Lambeau Field.
But, as we’ve seen elsewhere in the NFL, once a quarterback wants out there is little a team can do but maximize their compensation. The Packers should be ready for Rodgers’ departure and already have the next quarterback in place in Jordan Love.
The Packers Can Compete Without Aaron Rodgers
The impact: Having a Good Quarterback
Love seemingly has the tools to take on the mantle, although he is nowhere near Rodgers’ ability. However, the San Francisco 49ers have shown that if you can play to the strengths of your quarterback and build a team around him, you can still build a formidable contender in the NFC. The 49ers were backed at +125 in the NFL odds to win the NFC Championship game before their clash with the Philadelphia Eagles, and also had odds of +300 to win the Super Bowl.
It highlights that having a great quarterback is not the be-all and end-all for success in the NFL. The odds for the 49ers to make a run when Jimmy Garoppolo went down with an injury sky-rocketed, but Kyle Shanahan and his team have shown resilience and depth in their roster when it has mattered the most. The Packers can do the same without the glitz and glamour of the superstar quarterback.
Restructuring the roster
The problem the Packers have in rebuilding their roster is the amount of cap space available. As it stands, Green Bay has only $3M of space to work with ahead of the off-season, while a potential Aaron Rodgers trade would leave the franchise with a huge sum of dead money for 2023 and 2024. General manager Brian Gutekunst would have been extremely creative with his cap decisions, and it may require further cuts on the current roster.
Aaron Jones is a prime candidate to be cut as it would save the Packers $10M in space that could be freed up for a younger running back to come into the franchise. Running back is the most disposable position in the NFL, and although Jones is a special talent, his numbers could be replaced by adding a couple of rookies in the draft. David Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark, and Jaire Alexander are core parts of the team but will need to have their respective deals restricted to ease the burden on the cap. It will give Gutekunst vital space to maneuver in what could be the biggest off-season in 15 years in Green Bay.
Rebuilding around Love?
Love will likely be handed in the reins if Rodgers departs, and he will have a challenge taking over the offense that has been stripped of talent in recent seasons. If Jones follows Rodgers in leaving the Packers will be very short on experience in their skill positions. Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs delivered on their potential in their rookie seasons.
Both players are extremely promising and have the chance to grow with the quarterback into top-tier talents, especially Watson. The offensive line is experienced and should give Love a decent level of protection, although there will be concerns if Bakhtiari is a cap casualty given his consistency at left tackle.
Christian Watson has arrived 💪@Packers | @ChristianW2017 pic.twitter.com/AZr7PTIfeF
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) November 16, 2022
The Packers should be targeting a tight end in free agency and perhaps a veteran at wide receiver to slot in alongside Doubs and Watson. Only Josiah Deguara is under contract at tight end and has flattered to deceive after being drafted in the third round in 2020. Mike Gesicki is a player that could be useful after barely playing for the Miami Dolphins last season.
If Allen Lazard seeks pastures new, Marvin Jones or Jarvis Landry could fill the veteran role for Love, while Doubs and Watson develop their games. It might not look the same as Rodgers’ team at the peak of its powers, but there is a way for Green Bay to compete with a talented defense and enough offense to put points on the board.