QB Carousel 2022: Aaron Rodgers

Every NFL offseason has a flurry of news, speculation and subterfuge.  This news usually revolves around the coaching carousel, free agency, or some other roster movement. Most years quarterback is the one position that is generally pretty stable.  The last few seasons have seen a major changing of the guard. A QB carousel has not only taken shape but it’s begun to spin at a nauseating rate.

At this writing on 2/18/22, at least 8 quarterbacks have unsettled situations or drama around them.  Then when you consider that at least 6 teams qualify as needing a new signal caller the flow of scenarios and news can become dizzying.

This series will outline some of the different Quarterbacks and their most likely landing spots.

Without further ado let’s look at Aaron Rodgers.

Aaron Rodgers

This one has been bubbling for a while. It seems that many in the fantasy community are already putting AR12 with the Denver Broncos. After digging into the situation it’s difficult to see Arron Rodgers playing anywhere but Green Bay in 2022. Let’s take a closer look at the options.

The Green Bay Packers: 

Projected 2022 Cap Space: -$51m

Seeing -$51m in cap space makes it seem like the Packers need to purge their roster. We need to remember that this number includes Rodgers current contract. A contract that has $26m in dead money tied to it.  Any move to get him off of the roster will take some very serious salary cap gymnastics.  To add a layer of complication, keeping Rodgers in house would also involve a franchise tag for Davante Adams.

How do they keep him? 

The short answer is to raise cash so they can restructure a few contracts to ease their salary cap stress. The Packers raised $54m in 2021 through their latest “stock sale”. This is cash that can help them pay for the new signing bonuses that will be part of the restructures the Packers need to make.  This of course leads to the long answer.

The Restructures

The long answer begins with restructuring David Bakhtiari’s $27m and Kenny Clark’s $20m salaries.  The Packers can convert their salaries to the league minimum and turn the balance into a signing bonus. Next step would be to part with Preston Smith which would save about $12m more. This would free up the bulk of that money they need to fit Adams $19m Franchise Tag under the cap and leave room to get Rodgers a raise.  Assuming we see some other minor moves it’s possible to be ~$10m under the cap. Still not great.

The Key

The last and most important step is to get AR12 to sign an extension through 2024. Any new money would need to be guaranteed while shuffling some his $46m cap hit to 2023/2024. This will allow the team to save a few more dollars in the short term to get Adams re-signed.  This part could be easy based on how glowingly he spoke about the Green Bay coaching staff and more importantly the front office.  Also notable is that Rodgers ally Tom Clements was brought out of retirement to be his QB coach.  The Pack are doing their best to see that he stays put.

Odds

The Packers provide an excellent place to be if you want to take another swing at a title.  Going into his age 39 season we should assume a title run is most important.  We should all expect him to stay put or retire.

The Denver Broncos: 

Projected 2022 Cap Space: $39m

The industry favorite in the Rodgers sweepstakes, the Broncos would likely need to part with as many as 3 first round picks and a player.  This sounds steep but let’s not forget that Rodgers is the defending two-time league MVP and he’s under contract.  So this won’t be as easy as one would think.

How do they get him?

If the Broncos were to part with 3 first round picks the sticking point will become the player involved.  The Packers could let Robert Tonyan walk in free agency and demand Noah Fant. With “Albert O” on the roster and the trifecta of Jeudy/Sutton/Patrick at Wide Receiver, Rodgers will have plenty of weapons to work with.

As far as the financials are concerned the Broncos can make that deal and still have $13m under the cap.  So money isn’t the concern here.  General Manager George Paton has a solid core of young talent on offense. The defense will need to be reloaded sooner than later making those 3 first round picks all the more valuable.

Odds

Despite Nathaniel Hackett being the new head coach it seems unlikely that the Broncos front office will want to meet the Packers demands.  With the current landscape of the division it seems more likely that the Broncos will continue to add to their core and go elsewhere for a QB in 2022.  They could sell the farm next year for Bryce Young.

Other options: 
Indianapolis Colts: 

Projected 2022 Cap Space: $37m

With no #1 pick in 2022 the Packers would need to be interested in Wentz as part of the deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 

Projected 2022 Cap Space: $29m

The Steelers have the room and can muster up the picks. However, who is the player they could add? A stretch for sure.

With limited trade assets and no clear path to legitimate title contention it’s hard to imagine the Colts or Steelers being an option.  With how loaded the AFC is, it stands to reason that Rodgers would see his path through the NFC North as his best bet to reach a Super Bowl before his career comes to a close.

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