I am a humble guy, clearly, so I didn’t need to come on here directly after the NFL Draft to remind anybody that I was right about which quarterback the San Francisco 49ers were going to draft #3 overall. My reasonings on March 29th (when I made my prediction) might have been suspect — they might have been off by a long shot — but on draft night the Niners did what they should have done, or what I thought they should have done, and drafted Trey Lance.
I mention that to pad my stats, first and foremost, but there was a report before the draft that San Francisco offered the Green Bay Packers that same third overall pick in exchange for future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. That, of course, came on the heels of an Adam Schefter report that Rodgers is disgruntled in Green Bay and “doesn’t want to return,” according to the headline.
The article itself comes across as hearsay. Rodgers isn’t quoted at all, and the only relevant item from the Packers organization came from general manager Brian Gutekunst, who said “we are committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond.” I realize that’s GM Speak and it doesn’t tell us very much, but it’s far from the typical innuendo used by front offices that allow them to get ahead of, and ultimately control, the narrative when they inevitably move on from a player.
According to Schefter, “league and team sources” divulged the information to him. That’s cool I guess. But then a couple weeks later he appeared on The Dan Patrick Show (embedded below) and seemed to walk back just about everything he posited in the original article. I wish I had the time and fortitude to transcribe the important parts, but it’s so long and so full of nothingness that it’s probably better if I just post the whole interview:
To Dan Patrick’s credit, he did not give Adam Schefter the normal red carpet treatment reserved for NFL insiders he was likely expecting. In retrospect Schefter probably thought he was coming on to spend five or ten minutes talking about Rodgers, then pivot to discussing other news and notes around the league. Since he did such a poor job of explaining, Schefter himself became the story.
Now to be real: I don’t doubt that Aaron Rodgers is upset with the Packers’ organization. Not only is this not the first time he’s been involved in some sort of drama with the franchise that drafted him in 2005, but if he wanted to clear up the situation all he would have to do is come out and give some bullshit interview to ESPN or whatever and announce to the world that he is happy in Green Bay and hopes to play the rest of his career there.
The fact that he hasn’t shows that he intends to use every amount of leverage at his disposal. And he has a good amount. Quarterbacks are the most important players on football teams, and Rodgers has proven for the better part of the last 20 years that he is one of the best in the business. Guys like him don’t exactly grow on trees, and for the Packers to replace him with Jordan Love — whom they moved up to draft last season — very likely ensures that they will no longer be a relevant franchise.
But it’s also telling that Aaron Rodgers has, to this point, not come out and say that the report is true. He hasn’t demanded a trade publicly, and he hasn’t confirmed the noise that he wants his GM fired. In this current dead portion of the NFL offseason the great saga of Rodgers vs. the Packers has turned into the only game in town, but there do seem to be signs that in this particular instance there is more smoke than fire.
The first is that — knowing what we know now — it’s hard to trust the original Adam Schefter article, particularly given his sketchiness on The Dan Patrick Show. There was nothing clean or believable about Schefter’s presentation. He got defensive almost immediately at the slightest pushback from Patrick, constantly sipped from his mug, and while I’m not a body language expert it did come across like the behavior of someone who was lying. He also admitted that he didn’t get his information from either Rodgers or the Packers organization. You know, like, the only two parties involved.
The second thing is that the Schefter story dropped on draft day. Maybe since it wasn’t a particularly surprising draft — everyone knew Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence was going number one and BYU QB Zach Wilson number two — there was a strong inducement to get people to tune in to ESPN for other reasons. When confronted by Dan Patrick, Adam Schefter admitted that the story was more of an “accumulation” of things he’s heard during the offseason, and not “new” information that he received on the day of the NFL Draft.
When you combine that with the unconfirmed reports of the 49ers offering the Packers the #3 pick, and of Rodgers wanting his GM fired, it sounds more and more like no one knows anything. Sure, certain members of the media are aware that Rodgers is unhappy in Green Bay. Other members of the media have close ties with people in the Packers organization who are unhappy with Rodgers. And so they are reading the context clues, putting two and two together, and they have given America what it needs at a time like this: a story to care about.
As it stands now, the Packers remain the favorites to retain Rodgers’s services. At the moment he is a -170 favorite to take his first snap of 2021 in Green Bay — meaning you have to bet $170 to win $100 — with the Broncos (+220), Raiders (+600) and Browns (+1200) following as underdogs. Mathematically speaking a -170 bet is roughly a 60% proposition to become realized.
There is some disconnect between how betting markets view this situation compared to many national media members, who believe it’s pretty much a done deal that Rodgers either gets traded or retires and becomes the host of Jeopardy!
I guess that makes sense, since a lot of people have had a hard-on for Aaron Rodgers for years. They view him as arrogant, as a primadonna, and someone whose talent outweighs his production and accomplishments. Rodgers has always kind of been in a no-win situation, from following a legend like Brett Favre to most recently winning an MVP before getting dragged for wanting a little more power within the Packers organization.
Obviously if you have read up to this point you know where I stand: up until Patrick Mahomes came around, Rodgers was my favorite quarterback. He could do things no one else could do, and he always seemed to perform in the clutch — when situations mattered the most. I think he’s getting a raw deal both from the Packers and from the media, but this is what you get when early on in your career you are branded as a certain type of person. When conflict arises, the detractors get to claim they were right about you all along. You are going to be the bad guy, Mr. Rodgers. There is no other way.
But this is also a blog called Future Bets, so I would be remiss not to make some kind of prediction. I think Aaron Rodgers is unhappy, but I don’t think his relationship with the Packers is beyond repair. I know it’s not sexy to play the favorite and say Rodgers will be back with the Packers at -170, but then again I have already put money down on that exact proposition — at a worse price (-200) — and so it’s my belief that Aaron Rodgers is going to be back with Green Bay and he’s probably going to win a shitload of games in 2021.