Could two of the greatest careers at the quarterback position have come to an end this weekend? Both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady acknowledged following their Divisional-Round losses that their future is up in the air—not just about where they might be playing in 2022, but if they will be playing at all.
Regarding Brady, it’s pretty clear that he will either return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or retire. It’s more mercurial, as it usually is, when it comes to Rodgers and his future with the Green Bay Packers, which has been rocky on and off for a while now. And he had some interesting comments in his post-game interview on Saturday, making it clear that he’s not taking anything off the table right now, even if he’s not going rush into any decisions.
“I’m gonna take some time and have conversations with folks around here, and then take some time away, make a decision, obviously before free agency and everything gets going”, he told reporters following his loss to the San Francisco 49ers, which was as much on him as anybody. “Offensively, if you score 10 points, you’re not going to win a lot of those games”.
Rodgers and the Packers have had a tumultuous relationship at times over the years, and especially in the past year, where it genuinely looked at one point that he might not play—for Green Bay for anybody, if he couldn’t be traded.
And at 38 years old, it certainly wouldn’t be unreasonable for him to retire. Especially if he sees the Packers going a certain way and doesn’t see another situation around the league that suits him. He was asked if he remains open to playing for another team in 2022—even though he is under contract.
“It’s tough to say at this point. I don’t think it’s fair to anybody, or myself, to really go down those paths at this point. It’s disappointing. Sad. And fresh”, he said, though he wasn’t finished. “So many guys’ contracts are up or on the brink, or salary cap stuff. A lot of decisions to be made. I don’t want to be part of a rebuild, if I’m gonna keep playing. A lot of decisions in the next couple of months”.
“I don’t want to be part of a rebuild” is a pretty significant comment. Rodgers had certain ‘demands’ from the Packers last offseason to show a commitment before he agreed to a reworked contract, which included them bringing back Randall Cobb. He specifically mentioned postgame that he hopes at least that Davante Adams is given the franchise tag.
That would cost over $20 million in 2022, however. And the Packers are already estimated to be $40 million over the cap right now, via Over the Cap. Za’Darius Smith alone has a cap hit of more than $27 million, with David Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark, and Preston Smith also all at or near $20 million. Rodgers’ cap hit is over $46 million, of which $19 million-plus comes in the form of prorated bonus money, and thus immovable.