Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers may or may not be headed for a divorce this offseason.
Rodgers, 38, was non-binding if asked directly on the possibility after a devastating 13-10 home loss to the 49ers on Saturday, saying “I don’t want to be part of a rebuild if I’m going to keep playing.”
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With the Packers roughly $45 million over the cap for next season, fielding a roster as talented as the one that had the top seed in the NFC this season will be a significant challenge.
“That’s a valid question — definitely one that I’ve thought about,” Rodgers said. “But there are a lot of decisions to be made and key players… So many guys’ contracts are at or near salary cap, so many decisions have to be made.”
Should Rodgers, who signed a $187 million (AUD) extension in 2018, and the Packers part ways, it’s far more likely that Green Bay would trade him to the AFC to avoid facing him in the postseason, except possibly in the Super Bowl. These are five franchises that make sense for the 2021 NFL MVP.
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1. Denver Broncos
The Broncos have a clean sheet at quarterback next season. Teddy Bridgewater was on a one-year contract and Drew Lock has only capped at $2.2 million next season. The Broncos have two strong young receivers in Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, along with a strong defense that includes young cornerback Patrick Surtain II.
They could also use a coach familiar with Rodgers — Nathaniel Hackett, the Packers’ offensive coordinator, was linked to the job by Fox Sports editor Vik Chokshi, plus Peyton Manning guided to do the same in Denver.
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2. Miami Dolphins
The dolphins are in a difficult position with Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins won eight of their last nine games this season but fell short in the postseason. Prior to the winning streak, the Dolphins were the team most loudly associated with trading for Deshaun Watson.
Jaylen Waddle is a star wide receiver in development, and there might be some leeway to bring in a coach familiar with Rodgers, too.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
All the chatter over the past few months has been that this was Ben Roethlisberger’s final silver and gold season. The Steelers will have over $42 million in cap space next season, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Would they be willing to part with enough call-up capital to land Rodgers, or will they try to find Roethlisberger’s replacement via call-up or bargain basket?
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4. Cleveland Browns
This is where it becomes difficult for teams that would have to terminate contracts with existing starting quarterbacks. The Browns have been given a fifth-year option on Baker Mayfield, which means he’s owed about $19 million and there won’t be a brisk trade market for him.
Still, the Browns have great defense, led by Myles Garrett, and Nick Chubb is an elite running back. This is one franchise where Rodgers becomes an instant Super Bowl contender when you plug it in.
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5. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have one more year with Carson Wentz before they can offload him without a Cap sacrifice. Aside from that, they could now go ahead for a $15 million cap hit. Colts coach Frank Reich and GM Chris Ballard were both non-binding on whether they would bring Wentz back next season. This is another team that could plausibly be in contention for a Super Bowl title with Rodgers as quarterback — and playing in a dome would likely help him when he retires.
Much like the Browns and Colts, the Raiders and Titans are other teams that might be worth keeping an eye on if they’re looking to make a bold upgrade.