The Packers have not shown a hint of interest in trading Aaron Rodgers, even after a flurry of reports in recent days suggest the reigning MVP has grown so disenchanted with the team’s front office that he doesn’t want to play another down in Green Bay.
The Giants have spent an entire offseason doing everything possible to make Daniel Jones’ job easier, publicly proclaiming their allegiance to the third-year quarterback and signing high-priced receiver Kenny Golladay, tight end Kyle Rudolph and making speedy Florida wideout Kadarius Toney their first-round pick.
But with neither Rodgers nor the Packers blinking, the Giants owe it to themselves to see what it would take to trade for the most gifted quarterback in the NFL.
General manager Dave Gettleman said last Thursday that he hadn’t called the Packers to inquire about Rodgers. "It’s none of my business," he told reporters. "It’s going to cost a mother lode for anybody to get him — even though he’s 37 years old."
But Gettleman softened his position a bit on Monday, still professing his loyalty to Jones but not closing the door entirely on looking into whether Rodgers might be available. During an interview on WFAN Monday afternoon, he told host Maggie Gray, "You explore everything." He said he doesn’t deal in hypotheticals, but if you parse the language, you see that "You explore everything" is certainly different than "It’s none of my business."
And yes, it should be Gettleman’s business right now to call the Packers and initiate discussions about a trade.
Rodgers hasn’t commented publicly on his situation with Green Bay, although he did speak off camera to NBC’s Mike Tirico during Saturday’s Kentucky Derby telecast.
"He expressed a couple of times how much he loves Green Bay, loves the fans, loves the franchise," Tirico said. "There is a fissure. There is a chasm between management and the reigning NFL MVP."
Rodgers appears dug in right now, in large part because of the Packers’ ill-conceived decision to trade up in the first round of the 2020 draft to take Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. While some lauded the Packers for selecting a quarterback before there was an actual need for one, that outdated idea has backfired spectacularly, leaving Rodgers privately fuming and looking like the final piece of evidence he needed to force his way out.
Gettleman mentioned Rodgers’ age and the compensation it would take to get him. But when you’re talking about the possibility of landing a Hall of Fame quarterback who is at the top of his game, has no plans to retire and is ready to move on, you throw caution to the wind and explore a deal.
Gettleman helped himself by trading back in the first round on Thursday, netting the Bears’ first-round pick in 2022 and gaining valuable ammunition for a potential deal. If it means surrendering both first-round picks next year, another in 2023 and even another in 2024, it’s worth it for a quarterback who might have between four and seven elite years left in him. After all, Tom Brady is coming off a Super Bowl MVP run at age 43, and there’s no reason Rodgers can’t last that long.
The Giants are clearly a team on the rise with a capable young coach in Joe Judge, and Gettleman has done solid work over the last two seasons in free agency and the draft. We keep talking about this year’s team being a playoff contender if Jones can take the next step in his development.
Well, if Rodgers was the quarterback, there’s no doubt the Giants will be a playoff team and will be a Super Bowl contender. If that’s not worth the price of three or four first-round picks, then you’re not thinking straight.
The Packers are clearly hoping time, a sweetened contract — and perhaps even a trade of Love to show Rodgers that they won’t have anyone looking over his shoulder — will mean Rodgers returns for 2021 and beyond. But if Brady could nudge the Patriots to let him explore his free agency after delivering six Super Bowl titles over two decades, then Rodgers can certainly dig in and force the Packers’ hand.
That’s why Gettleman needs to see if he can make a deal, even if it means giving up on the quarterback he staked his reputation on. Gettleman has done everything possible to put Jones in a position to succeed, and if it comes to Jones still being the guy, he has a chance to succeed.
But when you have the chance to get the best quarterback in the game, you go for it.