The Packers-Rodgers tiff simmered for a year and started to boil two weeks ago, when ESPN announced Rodgers wanted to leave Green Bay – and yet the situation is still viewed from the wrong angle.
It is not about one side that is right and the other that is wrong. It’s football, not tort law or a talk show. Nor is it a zero-sum game, where one side can beat the other. The Packers’ leverage is that Rodgers is under contract, and if they simply refuse to trade him, he has to either play for them or retire. But having a miserable star quarterback doesn’t win. And if Rodgers retires, the Packers lose the league MVP for nothing. When your leverage is also your worst case scenario, you have a problem.“Fluid organizations have consistency in their ownership, front office, coaching, and franchise quarterback,” says agent Leigh Steinberg, who has represented as many star quarterbacks as any agent. “It’s a group that works together over time. A shrewd organization that values their quarterback will appreciate their insight into all aspects of the organization. It does not mean the absolute capacity to make these decisions. It means a contribution. ” Steinberg was speaking in general, not specifically about the Packers. But what he said applies to them. Trading for draft quarterback Jordan Love in the first round without even telling Rodgers was indefensible. And if Rodgers is not happy with his contract, it is also a failure of the Packers. They have the sport’s most valuable asset: a franchise quarterback. Rodgers was the league’s MVP. Keep paying it like that. Be proactive about it. Big franchises don’t fight with their franchise quarterback. Disagree, of course. But no fight. Not like this. Steinberg watched Russell Wilson’s media tour this winter, when the Seahawks quarterback pushed for offensive staff and more to his liking strategy. Steinberg says, “When I followed the Russell Wilson script that seemed to unfold publicly, I was confused because I would have thought Russell Wilson would have already had these powers.”
Steinberg worked for All-Pro quarterbacks before Free Will began in 1992; his firm currently represents Patrick Mahomes. He has seen wages rise and players gain strength. But while a popular opinion is that players can now influence decisions more than in the past, Steinberg argues that they could always influence a great franchise, because those franchises wanted to be influenced.
“A shrewd front office would see the quarterback as the most essential source of commentary on all of these matters, whether it be team personnel, play calls, possible free agency additions,” Steinberg said. “We used to meet Troy Aikman, myself and [Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones to talk about the season and what happened. We used to have these discussions with Steve Young and [team president] Carmen’s policy on the 49ers.You could argue that the Packers provided Rodgers with enough talent whether or not he was consulted. But consulting him is an essential part of the process. A quarterback needs to trust everything from the general manager to the read call to the running ability of the inside receiver; even if the GM is smart, the call is correct and the receiver precise, the trust must still be there. This trust has been shattered. Aaron Rodgers wants out. The Packers have nothing to blame but themselves
Yet Rodgers probably also loses. Of course, Green Bay used a first-round pick on a player (Love) who can’t help a healthy Rodgers win games. But if he’s traded, his new team would have to give up several first-round picks just to get him. He would also have to adjust to a different scheme, a different coach and a new group of teammates. Of course he could do it. But the best case scenario is the one Rodgers always wanted: to stay in one place, with a smart, aggressive organization that involves it.
Listening to Rodgers, the Packers would benefit as well. He would be more inclined to recruit free agency players – and a happy Rodgers is a talent magnet. He could also convert part of his salary into signing bonus as requested, pushing part of his salary cap into the future. Everyone wins when everyone works together to win.There has been a lot of talk this offseason about quarterbacks using leverage like basketball stars do, but there are some fundamental differences between the NFL and the NBA that limit an individual’s power. . It is impossible for a player to form a super team in football – winning teams need too many good players and it is not possible to turn an entire team over during the offseason. Free agency is harder to achieve (because of the franchise label) and that comes with greater risk, as players have to turn down guaranteed money in high risk sport. Free agency is also inherently less attractive in football than in basketball, as changing teams is more difficult. Kevin Durant and LeBron James were going to be superstars no matter where they played, but even a great quarterback like Rodgers needs a scheme and complementary parts to suit him. As Steinberg says, “Football is the most systemic game there is.” Tom Brady hit the free agency and chose wisely. Just like Peyton Manning. Kirk Cousins used free will to join a better organization and get paid beyond his worth, good for him. But quarterbacks are generally better off like Brady in New England or Manning in Indianapolis – working together with a strong organization to wrestle every year. A quarterback could theoretically sign a new one-year contract every year, essentially challenging the organization to bow down to him. But it probably looks better than it would work in practice. It would deprive the front office of the certainty of building around a specific player – and in Rodgers’ cases, it would have made Love’s writing both more likely and defensible, as the Packers should have been preparing for life afterwards. Rodgers.
It’s a fluid situation, with several possible conclusions. Rodgers could end up in Green Bay, with another team or on the Peril! together; the Packers could pitch Rodgers or Love. Speculation is fun but also a little sad. The only place Rodgers and the Packers shouldn’t be is where they are right now.
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