If you thought the 49ers game this past weekend was annoying, just you wait for RodgersWatch 2.0.
Yes, now that the season is prematurely over, the real games begin as teams across the league – including potentially the Packers – jockey to bring on the soon-to-be four-time MVP and experience the joy of almost-but-not-quite making it to the Super Bowl every year. Which teams? Just about all of them. But a handful have regularly come up from NFL insiders, whether as whispers during last offseason's grump-off to or as recent as Saturday night when Robbie Gould's kick went through the uprights.
Here are a dozen places potentially circling Rodgers, what they have to offer and why they should maybe consider placing their hopes elsewhere.
Why he might: Ever since they showed up on Rodgers' supposed list of preferred destinations, the Broncos have been the most surprising option – but also one of the most intriguing. Sure, the team itself has been mostly unremarkable over the last several seasons, not making the playoffs since 2015, but they've got the money as well as some capable pieces – mainly a strong defense, some young receiving talent and a beautiful blank slate at the head coach position where the Broncos can plug in whoever Rodgers wants. (They've already interviewed two Packers offensive coordinators this offseason, with OC Nathaniel Hackett as one of the finalists.)
And if all of that wasn't enough, guess who lives just next door in Boulder, Colorado? Shailene Woodley, Rodgers' fiancee. They've already given one Hall of Famer his legacy-ensuring last act with Peyton Manning – why not see if they can do it again?
Why he won't: If Aaron Rodgers doesn't want a rebuild, are the Broncos that much better of an option than the Packers? Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton have a lot of potential, and maybe they just need a decent quarterback – but are they that much of an improvement over Davante Adams and company? Especially in a division loaded with Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and the scrappy Raiders? If Rodgers wants a Super Bowl, heading to the AFC West is a much more difficult route than the NFC North.
And remember: If Rodgers is going anywhere, it's with a trade – so what are the Packers getting? I imagine they'd want much more for a four-time MVP than late first-round draft picks over the next few years – and Drew Lock's not exactly gonna keep the boat steady while Jordan Love slowly moves toward the helm. Denver may be Rodgers' first option – but is it the Packers?
Why he might: If Rodgers doesn't want to deal with a rebuild, the Steelers are pretty much set up for success right now. They've got a well-liked coaching staff and ownership situation, a strong slate of dangerous receiving threats, an impressive young running back and a solid defense with some game-breaking stud athletes. Their offensive line is by no means ironclad, but Pittsburgh has the ability to fix that. Sure, they made the playoffs mainly because the Colts decided not to show up against the Jags – but the other way to look at it is they made the playoffs with a soggy baked potato at quarterback. Upgrade there, and this team is back to a dominating Super Bowl contender.
Why he won't: Putting aside complicated trade logistics, Aaron Rodgers spent a large chunk of his career in the shadow of a long-tenured championship-winning predecessor. Does he really want to do that AGAIN, this late in his career? Because even after all he's achieved – and even as sleepy and linguini-armed as Ben Roethlisberger looked this season – he'd still be dogged by comparisons if he came to Pittsburgh and took over for the Hall of Famer.
San Francisco 49ers
Why he might: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? Rodgers always wanted to play close to home on the West Coast – and as he knows all too well, the Niners are a very good team with a smart coach, speedy weapons all over the field and a sharp defense. If he wants a Super Bowl and out, there are few situations more plug-and-play for a Lombardi Trophy than San Fran – something he must've known when he put them on his short list this past offseason.
Why he won't: What do we know about Aaron Rodgers? Yes, that he needs a haircut – but most importantly, we know the man holds a grudge. So the idea of going to the team that infamously passed on drafting him number one, the team that has routinely stopped him on his quest for another Super Bowl in heartbreaking fashion? I just find that hard to believe, unless this is some sort of "destroy them from the inside" operation. Or if he hates the Packers brass that much, which ... yeah, seems actually quite possible. Plus, the Niners are en route to potentially their second Super Bowl under Jimmy Garoppolo, with his highly-touted predecessor warming up in case he stumbles or gets hurt again. Even if Rodgers puts the past behind him and wants the Niners ... do the Niners really need him?
New York Giants
Why he might: Would West Coast Rodgers actually end up on the East Coast? Maybe for the largest and most glamorous market in the country, sure. Where better than Broadway for a goodbye tour?
The Giants sorely need a capable quarterback, and despite being amid a messy rebuild, they've got appealing parts – some exciting young receivers like Kadarius Toney, an empty Rodgers-controllable hole at head coach, perhaps a solid running game if Saquon Barkley is ever healthy again and a pretty beatable division for the taking. (I know the NFC East had two playoff teams, but one was a glorified bye for the Bucs and one was the Cowboys – so yeah, beatable.) And considering the Giants have not one but two top ten picks in the upcoming draft, the Packers might actually like this deal too.
If you're wanting to add a lasting piece to your legacy, New York media won't forget a hometown Super Bowl win.
Why he won't: Rodgers explicitly said he doesn't want to deal with a rebuild, and while the Giants have intriguing pieces, that's all they are right now: pieces. With no coach, a freshly minted GM and a roster still miles away from the playoffs – much less a Super Bowl win – this is merely New York tabloid hoping and dreaming. They'll get a star quarterback – but one more eager for the NYC spotlight and one young enough to put up with the necessary construction work. And thank god for that: The combination of the combative New York media and the snarky Rodgers may have caused the actual end of days.
New Orleans Saints
Why he might: Could Aaron trade out one shade of gold for another? The Saints were just a win away from grabbing a playoff spot this season – despite injuries at key positions – so it's not the total rebulid Rodgers wants to avoid. Add in a multi-faceted weapon like Alvin Kamara, a comfortable dome instead of the Frozen Tundra and an NFC South that could be anyone's game if Tom Brady retires (and even if he doesn't, time has to catch up to him at some point, right? RIGHT?!), and you have a potential Rodgers destination.
Why he won't: If you think the Packers' numbers are terrifying, just wait until you see New Orleans' ledger. The Saints are somehow $61 million over the cap for next season – and even if they carve out a ton of space for Rodgers, what does that leave the four-time MVP to work with? Even now, the Saints aren't a heavenly location for talent. After Kamara, the roster gets thin, especially if star receiver Michael Thomas stays on the sideline like he did this entire past season (or doesn't come back the same). Additionally, New Orleans just lost its head coach on Tuesday, as Sean Payton announced that he is stepping away from the game. With all that, I doubt any prayers to see Rodgers in black and gold are getting answered.
Las Vegas Raiders
Why he might: One could generously call this past Raiders season a roller coaster – but next season could start on a tremendous high if Vegas snags Rodgers. It's a West Coast team that Rodgers placed on his early trade destination wish list in a market looking to make a splash – and frankly needing a splash to compete with the likes of the Chiefs and Chargers in the AFC West. There's some decent talent to play with, as the defense showed some stout moments plus Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow to throw to on offense – and that's not including if Davante Adams comes along with Rodgers in a package deal. (They both, after all, posted the "Last Dance" photo this offseason.) Meanwhile, the Packers could come out OK if Derek Carr comes with other picks and players in a trade, a proven NFL-caliber quarterback to keep Green Bay competitive while Love continues to develop. Add in the lack of baggage here, with Rodgers able to create a fresh footprint in a new city and new franchise unfamiliar to success in recent years, and the odds are looking respectable.
Why he won't: Betting on this deal wouldn't be the most outrageous gamble – but it's also not a perfect fit for Rodgers. As with the Broncos, getting to the Super Bowl would involve getting through a tough division with Kansas City and a quickly improving Los Angeles – and while all of those teams have stability, the Raiders, suffice to say, do not after the past season. You could call it an intriguing blank slate ... or you could call it chaos that Rodgers doesn't need in the way of a championship. Plus, if Adams doesn't come along, the offensive firepower looks a little less intimidating – unless there's another move to come. If you have Rodgers, those moves might open up. Or, maybe like Davante on that final throw against the Niners, they never do. It'd be a gamble – but what else would you expect from Vegas.
Why he might: The Packers have a grumpy star quarterback who wants a change of scenery. The Seahawks have a grumpy star quarterback who wants a change of scenery. Why not just "Parent Trap" this nonsense away, trade places with each other and make everyone happy?! Rodgers lands in a deep threat heaven while the still-talented Packers land an all-star quarterback with Wisconsin ties – no rebuild for anyone necessary!
Why he won't: Unfortunately, as fun as this would be, it's too complicated to probably work. For one, both the Seahawks and Packers are looking at ugly finances – so even though the quarterbacks may change, the cap struggles would be awfully similar. Plus, the Seahawks quietly require a decent amount of rebuilding work – something Rodgers isn't looking for, especially in one of the league's tougher divisions with the Rams, Cardinals and Niners all playoff squads. But perhaps the biggest roadblock here is Wilson sounds like he wants to go to a larger market, something Green Bay ... is not.
New England Patriots
Why he might: The Patriots proved there is life after Brady this season, making the playoffs thanks to some smart coaching, a strong defense and the surprisingly effective debut of Mac Jones. But why settle for Mac Jones when you can have a four-time MVP – especially with Belichick also likely looking for one more quick Super Bowl before calling it a career. Add in an owner who doesn't mind making big moves – and a schedule that gives you the Jets and Dolphins twice each season – and New England might make a decent new home.
Why he won't: Rodgers and Belichick both have something to prove – and I'm not sure either achieve it together as opposed to apart. In Rodgers case, he'd once again be in the shadow of a great – as well as potentially the shadow of his Hall of Fame coach, who likely knows that his "one without Brady" championship carries less weight if it comes with Rodgers' help. The rumors were always that Belichick wanted to keep Garoppolo to prove he could develop a quarterback and win without Brady. With Mac Jones looking like an NFL quarterback in year one, I don't think he needs to bail on that plan and toss a Hail Mary with Rodgers. Plus, the offensive corps here are mostly Just Guys; unless Davante Adams comes with, it'll be a harder trek than Rodgers wants.
Why he might: Somehow the Miami Dolphins are always in the conversation for a big star quarterback. Maybe it's the nice sunny weather. Maybe it's the copious cap space. (Yeah, it's definitely the money.) But perhaps it might become a reality this time since, after spending most of the decade as a speedbump for the AFC, the Dolphins played tough last season, almost scoring a playoff spot. And with an up-and-coming talent like Jaylen Waddle to throw to, maybe Rodgers seems the potential in teal too.
Why he won't: You want to know why the Dolphins are always in the conversation for a big star quarterback? Because they never get the big star quarterback – something that won't change with Rodgers. After Waddle, the pantry's pretty thin on talent here – and even if that wasn't the case, this has been a lost franchise for a while now, trying and failing to find a coherent direction. Case in point: After getting his team to play hard and almost score a postseason bid despite low expectations and a rebuilding attitude, Miami fired coach Brian Flores anyways. They don't know what they want to be in Miami – which means Rodgers wants to be anywhere but. In fact, Miami's not even the most likely Florida team to snag Rodgers: If Brady retires – as is rumored – Tampa would be much better situation to land in.
Why he might: The Eagles have some decent draft options plus an intruging piece in Jalen Hurts – someone the Philadelphia brass constantly questions despite his respectable on-field performance – to pass along to the Packers if Jordan Love needs more time. As for what Rodgers might like, as with the Giants, the middling NFC East is there for the taking, and their offensive line is impressive. And, uh ... they've got those cool helmets? Yeah, off to the reasons why not ...
Why he won't: I know they were a playoff team this season (by default), but I'm just not sure there's that much for Rodgers in Philly. Sure, the Eagles had an impressive rushing attack this past year, but their main threat on the ground and leading rusher on the season was ... their current quarterback Jalen Hurts. Rodgers isn't going to replace that at this phase of his career, leaving Miles Sanders – an oft-injured mixed bag – as your main rushing attack. As for receivers, Philly has speedy rookie DeVonta Smith and sturdy tight end Dallas Goedert ... but not much after that. Despite a promising 2021 campaign, just adding Rodgers doesn't solve the Eagles' needs.
Green Bay Packers
Why he might: What about us?! If the Packers can bring everyone back (again), there's no better set-up for another Super Bowl run. Heck, if their special teams weren't a tire fire visible from space, they would still be on a Super Bowl run. A terrific receiving corps led by one of the best receivers in the game, a running game only getting better thanks to the development of AJ Dillon, a suffocating defense with rising stars that deserve to be in the NFC championship as we speak and – best of all – a division filled with clown cars to compete against. One of these times it has to work, right?
Why he won't: Or maybe ... it doesn't have to work. The Packers ran it back two years in a row – and in their latest attempt, instead of finally breaking through, they took a step back, leaving a round earlier than the previous seasons. Even though it looks right on paper, maybe one plus one just won't add up to two here in Green Bay. And speaking of difficult math, the Packers' financials are what most economic experts call "a nuclear hellfire." If the Packers do want to run it back one more time, Green Bay has a lot of big-name pieces to sign – and very little money to do it, with one of the worst cap situations in the entire NFL. Add in how much everyone just seems exhausted with one another, and maybe it's best if Rodgers and the Packers started seeing other people.
In the offseason, Rodgers alluded to this year as his "Last Dance." Maybe, unlike some other statements this preseason, that wasn't a lie.
Why he might: Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Good one!
Why he won't: But no, seriously; I needed a good laugh today. Thank you.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.