The Green Bay Packers sent a message to the NFL world when they traded up to select Jordan Love with the No. 26 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. While Aaron Rodgers will be with the team in 2020, he doesn’t appear to be in the team’s long-term plans.
Whether Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst drafted Love to spite Rodgers or to prepare for a future without the eventual Hall of Fame quarterback, the message is clear. Rodgers, who is likely playing out his last contract in Green Bay, is almost certain to finish his historic career with another NFL team.
Green Bay isn’t going to trade Rodgers this year. The team won’t take a $51 million cap hit just to trade the two-time NFL MVP and Love isn’t ready to step in as a starter. When the 2020 season comes to an end, though, things could change quickly.
While the 36-year-old may no longer be the NFL’s best quarterback, he will be coveted the moment he is put on the trade block. Plenty of teams will express interest, but these five teams stand out the most as trade destinations for Aaron Rodgers.
We know general manager John Elway is willing to make the monumental moves necessary to help his team win a Super Bowl. He also recognizes the importance of a quarterback ending his career as a Super Bowl champion. Elway also needs to look out for his own legacy and if Drew Lock can’t take this team to the playoffs in 2020, the Broncos will consider changes.
Landing with the Broncos could provide Rodgers with a tremendous opportunity to end his career on a high note. A receiving corps with Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler is better than anything the Packers put around him in recent years. Denver’s defense under Vic Fangio is also capable of helping this team go on a run. Elway helped Peyton Manning end his career on the perfect note and he could do the same for Rodgers if the opportunity to acquire him presents itself.
The Colts are hoping there is enough talent left in Philip Rivers to help put this team over the top. It’s worth a shot and the talent is in place for this team to be an AFC contender in 2020. If Rivers proves to be finished this upcoming season, Indianapolis can move on from both Rivers’ and Jacoby Brissett’s contracts next offseason. It will create the perfect opportunity for owner Jim Irsay, who desperately wants another ring, to pull off a trade that would dramatically change the AFC.
Indianapolis could be an ideal landing spot for Rodgers. Colts general manager Chris Ballard built one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and put a dominant running game behind it. A receiving corps with T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell would provide Rodgers with three playmakers to work with and tight end Jack Doyle is a solid weapon. We know the AFC South is winnable and with a strong defense and great coaching staff, Rodgers would have a great shot at winning a second Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers
This might be the dream scenario for Rodgers. While he loves to carry a chip on his shoulder against the 49ers for passing on him, he could return home to California and that fire will still burn to prove the Packers wrong. He loves California, but that alone isn’t the major selling point. There is no better fit out there than the 49ers with head coach Kyle Shanahan.
When the Packers boasted an elite defense, Rodgers went to the Super Bowl. He’d have an unfathomable defense in San Francisco and would get to work with Shanahan. The fit would not only get the most out of San Francisco’s offense, but it would also help make Rodgers elevate his game. Furthermore, Shanahan is the perfect person to both challenge Rodgers intellectually and garner his respect. The 49ers can’t afford to waste this incredible Super Bowl window they have. If Jimmy Garoppolo falls short in 2020, San Francisco should do whatever it takes to land Rodgers.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders are sticking with Derek Carr in 2020, but it’s not for lack of effort at finding upgrades. Las Vegas seemingly explored every option imaginable before settling on Carr, then put more talent around him via the 2020 NFL Draft. The pressure is now on him to take his game to the next level and to push this team into playoff contention. If he falls short, Jon Gruden will demand Mike Mayock go find a superior quarterback for 2021.
Rodgers could come in an instantly make the Raiders a contender. An improved defense with a dominant running game and an improving receiving corps, the pieces are all coming into place. We also know the Raiders are willing to be aggressive when elite talent is available and opportunities to acquire a player like Rodgers rarely happen. If the Packers start listening to trade offers for Rodgers by next year, the Raiders will be one of the first teams to call.
New England Patriots
Bill Belichick will give Jarrett Stidham a year to prove he can be the guy. When that doesn’t work out, which is likely to happen given the lack of weapons around him, the Patriots will look for better options. Belichick and Josh McDaniels know how to get the most out of older quarterbacks and with a stockpile of 2021 draft picks, the Patriots have the ammunition to pull off a trade for Rodgers.
Of course, this team would still need to help put some weapons around Rodgers. Conveniently, the Patriots are projected to have more than $110 million in cap space next offseason. New England can pull off a blockbuster trade for Rodgers and still have the cap room to sign star receiver Chris Godwin and could convince A.J. Green to sign a team-friendly deal to compete for a Super Bowl. Belichick built a war chest of draft picks and cap space for a specific reason and that’s to make a league-changing move.