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Why it’s not Aaron Rodgers or bust for Las Vegas Raiders in 2023 offseason

Las Vegas Raiders
Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had fun with the media and fans during Pro Bowl weekend. Adams courted Rodgers, and his former quarterback seemed to enjoy the fanfare. Raiders brass may do its due diligence on a Rodgers trade deal, but general manager Dave Ziegler shouldn’t approach negotiations with Green Bay (if he has any) with an all-or-nothing mindset.

During an interview for Silver and Black Today, Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette said he spoke to scouts who expect the Packers to command at least a first-round pick along with an additional middle-round selection.

If that’s the trade cost for Rodgers, the Raiders would have little flexibility under the cap and once again pass up on the opportunity to acquire cheap talent with premium draft resources.

Short-term risk in acquiring Aaron Rodgers

Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers
Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In the short term, Rodgers would likely improve the offense in a reunion with Adams and a newfound rapport with tight end Darren Waller and wideout Hunter Renfrow, but how could the Raiders support the 39-year-old quarterback on the other side of the ball?

Ziegler would have to go bargain-bin shopping for free agents and trust his scouting department to find draft gems with limited selections, which leaves little margin for error.

Keep in mind that the Raiders have needs at guard, defensive tackle, edge-rusher, linebacker, safety and cornerback. By the way, running back Josh Jacobs isn’t interested in the franchise tag. If Ziegler doesn’t re-sign him, that’s another void to fill on offense.

In comparison to his supporting cast in Green Bay, Rodgers would have a better group of pass-catchers (because of experience) in Las Vegas, but how would the Raiders’ 26th-ranked scoring defense fare with limited resources available to strengthen the unit over the offseason?

In 2022, the Packers fielded a mediocre defense that ranked 17th in points and yards allowed. Late in the season, Rodgers went on a hot streak with a young wide receiver corps and finished 8-9, losing to the Detroit Lions in a win-and-in playoff scenario.

The Raiders must avoid the same mistake they made this past season, thinking they can simply outscore opponents with a porous defensive unit. Furthermore, is Rodgers worth the draft capital if he only plays one season?

Over the past couple of years, Rodgers has contemplated whether or not to continue his playing career. The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman pointed out that Adams left Green Bay in part because of the uncertainty around the Packers quarterback’s future:

If the Raiders wanted to sign Rodgers as a free agent, fine, take a shot on a one-year deal, but in a trade they would also sacrifice 2023 and possibly 2024 draft picks, which has an impact on the ability to build for the future.

Las Vegas Raiders in bidding competition with New York Jets?

Unless Rodgers makes it clear that he wants to play in Las Vegas, the Raiders could find themselves in a bidding competition with the New York Jets. According to NBC’s Peter King, Gang Green would pay a hefty price in draft picks for the four-time league MVP.

“As for the compensation due to Green Bay, my guess is the Pack would want at least two first-round picks,” King wrote. “The Woody Johnson Jets, desperate for a star QB almost since the Broadway Joe days, would happily pay that freight, I’d guess. But would Rodgers accept a deal to the Jets? We shall see.”

Instead of going all in for Rodgers in a costly pursuit, Ziegler can turn to the draft and build around a rookie quarterback. The front office would have more to spend in free agency and 11 draft picks to plug holes on a roster that needs starters and depth in several spots.

Also of note, according to ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky, Adams would be open to growing with a “young guy,” which suggests that it’s not Aaron Rodgers or bust for him:

To be clear, the Raiders should absolutely entertain the idea of acquiring Rodgers, but Ziegler should set up some boundaries, so he doesn’t overcompensate for a roster that needs significant help beyond the quarterback position.

Over the weekend, Jacobs said the team had three quarterbacks on its radar at the end of the 2022 season, but he didn’t share any specific names. While a deal for Rodgers would set off fireworks, the Raiders should keep their options open as draft season heats up.

Maurice Moton covers the Raiders for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoeMoton.

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