Training camp week is finally here, and of course, all eyes will be on the quarterbacks. Which is a shame, because there will be a lot of intriguing position battles all over the field. Cornerback, offensive line, and receiver just to mention a few.
But it seems most all of us are convinced that quarterback is the only thing that really matters. And that brings us to an interesting dynamic in the ongoing drama. In that now infamous ESPN interview with Kenny Mayne, Aaron Rodgers stated that the Packers drafting Jordan Love has nothing to do with his unhappiness with the organization.
However, he almost immediately contradicted that statement by going on to say “A lot of this was put into motion last year.” Yeah, last year. The year Love was drafted. He added “The wrench was just kind of thrown into it when I won the MVP and played the way I played last year. So this is the spill out from that.”
Rodgers is clearly saying that he believes the drafting of Love was part of a plan to get rid of him. So it is disingenuous to claim it has nothing to do with his alienation. The Green Bay front office has been widely criticized for not “consulting” Rodgers before taking Love in the first round. Come on. Would that really have made a difference? Would Rodgers have been any less paranoid? What if Brian Gutekunst had consulted him ahead of time, and Rodgers had objected to it? Would Gutey have selected Love anyway? Likely yes. And that would have gotten Rodgers even more riled up.
So, as training camp gets ready to begin, we are left with the ultimate irony. Aaron Rodgers, so offended by the drafting of Love, should now be pulling for the second year signal caller to be a huge and immediate success. Rodgers wants out of Green Bay, right? The Packers insist they are not trading him, under any circumstances.
Unless Jordan Love balls out and shows he can play winning football right from the start. My bet is that Rodgers does not report to camp. And not just because he is unhappy with management. If QB12 reports, he knows he immediately becomes the week one starter and takes over the first team reps. Love is relegated to back-up, and the Packers don’t get the opportunity to see if their young quarterback can win a regular season game under center. Rodgers gains nothing toward his goal of going elsewhere.
Since Rodgers is already wealthy and can afford it, the smart move for him is to hold out well into the season, or temporarily retire. That forces the Packers to see what they’ve got in Love. Aaron’s hope would be that Love emerges quickly and Green Bay is winning. If that happens, the Packers would surely be more than happy to deal Rodgers away in a timely manner, dump his salary, and be done with the drama.
Rodgers gets his fresh start elsewhere. Jordan Love becomes the new local hero. The Packers get a high draft pick or two in a trade, and some much needed salary cap room to work with. Everybody wins.
It’s basically the same strategy used by Carson Palmer to escape the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011. Palmer wouldn’t report for the start of the season, forcing the Bengals to play young Andy Dalton. Dalton played well and showed promise. So much so, that by midseason Cincinnati was comfortable enough to trade Palmer to the Raiders. By the way, Palmer’s agent was David Dunn. And, you probably already know, that Aaron Rodgers’ agent is the same David Dunn. It seems obvious to me Dunn is attempting to orchestrate the same process.
(A footnote here. Perhaps Rodgers should be careful what he wishes for. After leaving the Bengals, Palmer went on to seven injury-riddled, mostly unsuccessful seasons. He lasted just two losing years in Oakland. Spent the last five in Arizona where he made the playoffs only once.)
Judging by what I read and hear, most Green Bay fans are hoping Rodgers reports to camp and all is forgiven and forgotten. That hope is misplaced. He doesn’t want to be here. The scenario we should be pulling for is for Rodgers to hold out, and Love to develop quickly . That’s the only way we’re going to get a happy ending.
Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.