The Green Bay Packers should trade Aaron Rodgers.
President Mark Murphy should stop taking public digs at the “complicated fella” playing quarterback for his franchise — as Murphy did June 10 at an event at Lambeau Field — and start focusing on the King’s ransom he might receive in a deal.
The Packers need to recognize how lucky they are here.
Most NFL franchises would kill to have a 37-year-old reigning MVP as a bargaining chip to help them restock their roster, sustain a certain level of success, and reset the clock on job security for folks in the front office.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are about to walk into the same trap with Ben Roethlisberger, 39, that the Giants did with Eli Manning: sticking with their longtime leader out of loyalty and hope, and risking enormous damage to the team’s future, as happened in New York.
It could be argued the Atlanta Falcons are making the same mistake by sticking with Matt Ryan, 36, too.
The Packers obviously would rather not trade Rodgers because it would make the team worse in 2021 than it was in 2020.
Even if Jordan Love played half decently at quarterback, the 2021 team would not be as competitive, would not win as many games, and would not reach a third straight NFC Championship.
GM Brian Gutekunst and coach Matt LaFleur know this, which is probably why they sound eager to patch things up.
Plus, if Rodgers replicated Tom Brady’s longevity with his next team — playing at a high level into his mid-40s as he supposedly intends to do — the Packers would have plenty of egg on their face.
But the reality is Green Bay already put its money on Rodgers not being Brady 2.0 by drafting Love in the 2020 first round. And while that has boxed them in and pushed Rodgers to reportedly want out, it has also afforded Green Bay the luxury of holding an unprecedented bargaining chip.
All-time great quarterbacks like Rodgers simply never hit the market. So unless Love absolutely cannot play, they hold all the cards here and could push all their chips to the middle of the table and cash in.
The San Francisco 49ers traded Joe Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993 at 36 years old. And the Niners had to include a 1994 third-round pick and safety David Whitmore just to get KC’s first-round pick (No. 18 overall) in return.
But Montana was at the end of his career, having played just one half of football the previous two seasons. Rodgers is coming off an MVP season and a second straight conference championship game appearance.
So it is hard to believe Green Bay couldn’t get two first-round picks in a package back for Rodgers from a team that believes it is a QB away from competing immediately.
Washington and Denver come to mind right away: teams that have been in this offseason QB market the whole way and still haven’t fixed the position.
And speculating? New England would be an all-time revenge union if Bill Belichick and Rodgers really wanted to take Brady down a peg. Las Vegas would be fantastic theater.
Miami, Carolina and Philadelphia all could upgrade, but the Panthers and Eagles are more than a QB away, and would a 37-year-old be as attractive as 25-year-old Deshaun Watson had been before his numerous lawsuits?
The Rams would have been a great fit and might have happened if this had been resolved earlier, but without a clear path to land Rodgers in the spring, Sean McVay chose Matthew Stafford instead.
The most challenging part for Green Bay if it proceeds would be managing the Rodgers trade market once the team’s intentions got out. The second the Packers indicate to anyone that they’re willing to trade Rodgers, it will get out publicly and he will be as good as gone.
It’s possible that could damage their leverage and trade return. Still, Rodgers is playing at a high enough level that he should command a sufficient price in the end.
What, Washington owner Dan Snyder wouldn’t include a second first-rounder if that’s what it took to win the Rodgers sweepstakes? Of course he would.
Would Green Bay trade him within the NFC? Undoubtedly they would prefer not to, but they’d probably enjoy a Rodgers holdout from training camp and the regular season even less.
It only takes one buyer. So maybe Murphy could trade Rodgers back to the Washington franchise that he helped to a Super Bowl XVII victory on Jan. 30, 1983, as a defensive back who’d make first-team All-Pro the following fall.
After all, Murphy and the Packers have traded a “complicated” Super Bowl-winning quarterback before: Brett Favre.
Anyone who knows the Packers’ history, Rodgers included, knows that Green Bay should be the last franchise to talk when it comes to enabling complicated quarterbacks.
Favre was an all-time diva, constantly retiring and unretiring or delaying his decisions on upcoming seasons. Green Bay enabled it for years, keeping Rodgers on the bench from 2005-07.
But eventually the club said enough was enough and traded Favre at age 38 to the Jets in 2008, handing the ball to Rodgers, their 2005 first-round pick.
Now add the fact that Rodgers reportedly doesn’t want to play in Green Bay anymore.
Murphy has overseen the trade of a franchise icon before, and it isn’t a stretch to observe this escalating standoff and see Murphy doing so again.
Rodgers knows, as he told Pat McAfee in April, that “I may have thrown a wrench in some timelines that may have been thought about or desired.” He knows the Packers were moving on before he won his third MVP.
So it’s time for Green Bay to get maximum value in a deal and proceed with Love on a favorable QB rookie contract — unless, that is, they don’t think he can handle the job.
If they do trade Rodgers, it will mean that both Favre and Rodgers were traded coming off of home losses in NFC Championship games at Lambeau Field to the Giants and Buccaneers, respectively.
It will also be proof that sometimes relationships just run their course — especially the “complicated” ones.
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