Sometimes, Aaron Rodgers can’t help but stir the pot.
Appearing on “The Pat McAfee Show” last week, Rodgers was asked if he loved being a Green Bay Packer. Green Bay’s quarterback then said, “I love playing ball.”
A.J. Hawk, who played with Rodgers for nine seasons and is McAfee’s co-host, then hollered, “Steelers next year.”
So, the drama started up again.
Rodgers was displeased with the organization last offseason, skipped OTA’s and mini-camps and told some he’d never play for Green Bay again.
The Packers eventually voided the 2023 season of Rodgers’ contract last summer to ensure he’d return this year. In the process, that shifted the power of the relationship back to Rodgers.
Green Bay must trade Rodgers this offseason, or get nothing for him following the 2022 campaign when he would become a free agent.
The Packers will also be in salary cap hell next season, as their top-51 players currently put them $34.1 million over the 2022 cap. Rodgers has a cap hit of $46.15 million next year, which is a gaudy 21.61% of the overall cap.
MORE FOR YOU
So all signs point to Rodgers playing elsewhere next season, something he reminded the world of last week. If he and the Packers eventually divorce, here are the five most likely landing spots:
Earlier this season, Rodgers said: “I’m a big Mike Tomlin fan, I have been for a long time. I like the way that he speaks about his team and the way he goes about his business.”
When the Packers hosted Pittsburgh in October, Rodgers walked on the field, looked over at Tomlin, then smiled and nodded. Tomlin returned the same gesture.
Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger won’t be back in 2022 and the Steelers will be looking for a quarterback. It appears Hawk knows what he’s talking about.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things (about Tomlin) from guys that have played there,” Rodgers said. “I like Tomlin.”
The Broncos have a top-10 defense, gifted young wideouts and solid running backs. They also have the worst quarterback in the NFC West and one of the bottom-10 in football in Teddy Bridgewater.
Back in 2012, Indianapolis made quarterback Peyton Manning available and general manager John Elway pounced. Manning then threw a remarkable 131 touchdown passes in his first three seasons with the Broncos — including an NFL record 55 in 2013 — and helped Denver win the 2015 Super Bowl.
If Rodgers does become available, Elway will undoubtedly try repeating that Manning magic by dealing for Rodgers.
The Dolphins must decide if Tua Tagovailoa is their future at quarterback. If he’s not, Miami has plenty of draft capital to deal for Rodgers thanks to its shrewd dealing of offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil back in 2019.
The Dolphins began the year 1-7, but have won five straight since then. Tagovailoa has been a big part of that, but he’s also no Rodgers.
The final month of the season will likely play a large role in whether the Dolphins pursue Rodgers.
4. Las Vegas
The Raiders’ greatest star was head coach Jon Gruden, and they fired him in October. Now, Las Vegas needs a marquee player to help it fill its new $2 billion Allegiant Stadium.
Las Vegas is 21-24 under general manager Mike Mayock, and he’ll need to make a splash if the Raiders miss the postseason for the fifth straight year. What bigger splash than bringing a three-time MVP to Las Vegas?
The Browns have one of the NFL’s top-five rosters. What they don’t seem to have is their long-term answer at quarterback.
Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, is signed through 2022. But Mayfield hasn’t wowed anyone during his first four years, and Cleveland seems unlikely to give him a second contract.
The Browns have several gifted young players to dangle in a trade. And Rodgers would make Cleveland immediate Super Bowl contenders.
Perhaps this would be the perfect marriage for all parties.