The Broncos’ chances of acquiring Aaron Rodgers increased considerably on Thursday.
The Denver Broncos are finalizing a deal to name Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett their new head coach.
In other words, Denver got a guy who is perhaps a gateway to getting the guy.
As you’ve probably heard, Rodgers may request a trade this offseason. While the Packers would technically have to grant Rodgers a trade request first, his newly-worked contract allows him to bolt Green Bay after the 2022 season. So if Rodgers is determined to leave Green Bay, the Packers will likely entertain any trade option he requests. Otherwise, they risk losing him without getting at least some trade compensation for him in return.
Though Rodgers does not have an official no-trade clause in his contract, he does have de facto veto power. Rodgers has already threatened retirement twice in the past nine months. So if another team comes calling, there’s no way the Packers would not take two or three first-round picks in exchange for a 38-year-old quarterback who doesn’t want to play for them anymore.
If the Packers do trade Rodgers, it’ll likely be with an AFC team. Green Bay won’t want to trade him to a conference rival, no matter what Rodgers wants.
This brings us to Denver. Before last season, Ian Rapoport reported that Rodgers viewed Denver as “one of his preferred destinations.” Rodgers supposedly likes the idea of playing for John Elway, the president of football operations for the Broncos.
Now, the addition of Hackett may just make the Broncos Rodgers’ destination of choice. Rodgers is already familiar with Hackett and has enjoyed some success with him. He also seems to like Hackett personally. “I hope [Hackett] doesn’t go anywhere, unless I do,” Rodgers said with a smirk last year.
Rodgers doesn’t say anything by accident. With that one line, he sent a message to other NFL teams that hiring Hackett would increase his interest in them.
The right coaching dynamic is very important to Rodgers. Do you remember his 13-year struggle with former Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy? That isn’t happening again. If Rodgers leaves the Packers, he will want to join a team with coaches who share his vision.
He’ll also want a good roster around him, and Denver has a solid roster. The Broncos give Rodgers perhaps the best defense he has had since he won the Super Bowl in 2011. And on offense, the weapons are at least above average. Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, and Jerry Jeudy are appealing receivers, while the run game — with guys like Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams — is among the best in the NFL.
What does all this mean? That on paper, the Broncos are the best trade destination for Aaron Rodgers. Other teams like the Raiders and Steelers could still get involved, but they will have a hard time making a better pitch than the Broncos at this point.
As we sit today, the best fits for Rodgers are:
- Staying in Green Bay
- Las Vegas