Aaron Rodgers starting at quarterback for the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick? Shockingly, it’s not as crazy as it sounds at first…
We know what you’re thinking.
There’s no way Aaron Rodgers ends up on the New England Patriots.
Why on earth would Green Bay ever let him go? What jersey number would he even take since No. 12 is obviously off-limits forever in Beantown? And what does any of this mean as far as poor Jarrett Stidham is concerned?
In the famous word of Rodgers himself: “R-E-L-A-X.” We’ll get to all these questions and concerns in time.
First off, let’s take a look at the state of the 2020 Packers though.
This is a team that made the NFC Championship Game last season, their first under new coach Matt LaFleur. The Pack went 13-3 and largely improved their defense and run game, two areas that were often sorely lacking under old coach Mike McCarthy (now with Dallas).
For years, it was Rodgers working his magic and using his ridiculous ability on the football field to bail out poor playcalling by McCarthy or poor play by the Packers defense.
And then in 2019, all of that changed.
Green Bay was uncharacteristically aggressive in free agency, and through it — as well as the draft — they built a respectable defense that could get after opposing quarterbacks and generally hold up their end of the bargain. LaFleur committed to running the football, and Aaron Jones was the perfect guy to do it.
Despite all these positive improvements — and despite the Pack making it to the doorstep of the Super Bowl — one could argue that Rodgers himself had a frustrating season.
Green Bay’s offense ranked 18th in total yards and 15th in total points — a far cry from the halcyon days of old with ARodg. Rodgers himself threw the second-fewest touchdowns of his career in seasons he played all 16 games, and his 95.4 final quarterback rating was the third-lowest it’s ever been in his 12 seasons as starter.
There was a time not so long ago when Aaron Rodgers was the most surefire quarterback you could take in fantasy football. Nowadays, he could be the last QB1 taken in a 12-team draft with your friends.
Does any of this really bother Rodgers himself though?
It’s hard to say. He hasn’t spoken out against his declining usage the past two seasons … but he’s also the master of making passive aggressive remarks and stirring up controversy by being “moody,” even if he’ll never be the guy to come out and tell the world on live national television that he’s frustrated (like certain other prima donna stars in this league).
Rodgers has to be frustrated with one thing though: the Packers’ complete inability to get him back to the Super Bowl.
It’s one thing if his individual production is taking a hit but the team is still winning more games and earning him Lombardi Trophies. If he’s asked to take a backseat though and it’s not paving the way for Super Bowl rings? That’s when the frustration starts to boil over.
Moreover, Rodgers could be feeling now what Tom Brady presumably felt in 2019. It was widely believed that Brady spent a majority of last season — particularly the second half — frustrated with the lack of weapons around him on offense.
The Patriots swung and missed on Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon, and outside of Julian Edelman and James White, they really had no reliable pass-catchers for Brady week-in and week-out. They also waited until the 2020 NFL Draft to finally address the tight end void created by Rob Gronkowski’s then-retirement.
Did any of this change the way Brady felt about New England, or accelerate his departure?
We can’t be sure. Multiple reports have suggested Brady knew he was going to be leaving well before last season began. But it’s probably safe to assume the way the 2019 season played out didn’t change his way of thinking or make him hesitate when he had the chance to bolt for Tampa Bay.
Similarly, Rodgers has got to be upset with the Packers after last month’s draft. With Green Bay oh-so-close to the Super Bowl last season, it was clear that all the team really needed to do was upgrade the arsenal around Rodgers in terms of pass catchers, and if they did, the Pack would probably be able to get back over the proverbial final hump.
Instead, Green Bay spent their two top picks in Rounds 1 and 2 on Jordan Love and A.J. Dillon, a quarterback and a running back — neither position of which was an area of immediate need for the Packers.
The thinking on Green Bay’s end is that they’re getting great value picking up those talented players where they did. Besides, they’re also being forward-thinking and they’re planning for the future, which is intelligent.
What’s not intelligent though is alienating one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time by using your top draft pick on his successor when he’s still just 36 years old.
Obviously, the Packers have done this before — they did it to Brett Favre, and ironically enough, they did it with their drafting of Aaron Rodgers.
Just ask Favre how that worked out. He ended up playing for the Vikings and the Jets. The Packers obviously were just fine turning the keys of their offense over to Rodgers, but the parallels between these two situations are certainly eerie.
All of this adds up to an increasingly plausible scenario in which Rodgers decides to leave for another team. He’s technically under contract for two more years, but he could refuse to renegotiate a new deal at the end of this upcoming season and/or demand a trade if he’s really as salty about Love’s drafting as the media believes he might be.
This is where the Patriots come in.
Bill Belichick appears to be committed to Jarrett Stidham as his quarterback for Week 1 this season. But that doesn’t mean that he’s committing to Stidham as his quarterback for the next two decades like he just did with Tom Brady.
You’d best believe that especially at this late point in Belichick’s career, he wants to win now. He undoubtedly wants to prove to the world that he, not Brady, is more responsible for New England’s dynasty, and the only real way he does that is by winning another Lombardi Trophy — or a few more — and hoping Brady can’t do the same with the Buccaneers.
If Stidham flames out this season and a full-blown quarterback controversy erupts in Wisconsin, why wouldn’t Belichick try and coerce Rodgers into finding his way east to the Patriots?
It would be a win-win for both icons. Belichick would get a chance to coach a player who many people believe to be even more talented than Brady in terms of pure ability, and Rodgers would get a chance to finally play in another Super Bowl — he hasn’t been back there since he won it all in 2010.