The Green Bay Packers have long been a storied NFL franchise having multiple hall of fame coaches, players and plenty of championships and Super Bowls. For the last 10 years the Packers have failed to capitalize on hall of fame talent and have consistently choked away prime opportunities to win the big dance. The mishandlings by the front office combined with Aaron Rodgers indecisiveness have left the Packers as perennial losers in the playoffs. How can a team with such a storied history and one of the best Quarterbacks allow something like this to happen? Lets take a look at some of the problems.
Aaron Rodgers is the most confusing part of this puzzle. On one hand he is the sole reason that the team has been competitive for the past couple seasons, and his MVP level play has bailed out the Packers time and time again. On the other side of the spectrum Aaron Rodgers is also a big factor on why they have not reached the end of the rainbow. His indecisiveness on if he wants to be a Packer or not constantly messes up the offseason plan for the Packers. If Rodgers states he still wants to be a Packer, the team is in win now mode, keeping a lot of the older veterans while trying to supplement the roster through the draft. If Rodgers hints that he wants out, the plan turns into a rebuild mode letting key free agents walk and drafting projects instead of win-now players.
This back and fourth behavior leaves the team in an awkward spot where they are either too old and struggling with cap space or too young with still not a lot of cap space. Rodgers indecisiveness has played to his benefit as every time he hints at potentially leaving, a raise comes his way. His huge cap hit affects the team in a big way and it can be seen this offseason as the Packers were forced to trade away Devante Adams because they could not afford both him and Rodgers.
The Jordan Love Pick
I normally do not like to harp on specific draft picks too much. That being said, the Packers selection of Love in 2020 is one of the worst selections in NFL history. The problem with the pick is that it made zero sense and only angered Aaron Rodgers. The Packers desperately needed WR depth to bolster the offense, instead they drafted a potential Rodgers replacement. What makes this pick so bad is the fact that Love has never gotten an opportunity to play and Rodgers just got another lengthy contract extension. It is a complete waste of a pick, and the Packers will either let Love walk in free agency or trade him for way less than the first round pick they used on him.
If the Packers were set on drafting a QB in 2020 I think there is two ways they could have handled it better. The first way would be to still draft Jordan Love and then subsequently trade Aaron Rodgers. The combination of cap relief and draft picks from trading Rodgers would have been more than enough resources to build a solid team around Love. The other option could have been to draft a QB in the later rounds to develop. A late round QB is much less of an investment and has a very team friendly contract. This would have allowed the Packers to keep Rodgers and draft talent for him while still being able to develop a QB.
Lack of Action in Free Agency
The Packers are notorious for not making big splurges in free agency. Teams that do not splurge in free agency can still be successful, just look at the Patriots. The Packers really don’t have the cap space for multiple superstars and the Devante Adams trade proves this. The problem is the Packers do almost nothing in free agency. The sign one or two guys and expect big changes, it is not sustainable, especially when you are not drafting positions of need. The lack of free agent action has also added to Rodgers annoyance with the front office.
The Packers also let many of their older players walk in free agency like Jordy Nelson, Clay Mathews and Randall Cobb and did not do anything to replace them. It left a win now team with a lot of rookies and bench players to fill longtime veteran roles. The roster is way too top heavy with not much substance.
What is the Fix?
I think the fix for the Packers is fairly simple but hard to stomach. They have to cut their losses and clean house, and that includes trading Rodgers. Losing Devante Adams is a big blow to the offense and the Packers also lost Za’darius Smith on the defensive end, the new Rodgers extension is going to make it very hard to sustain the talent needed to compete in the NFC. If they keep Rodgers they will still be competitive but not have enough to beat the likes of Tampa Bay and Los Angeles. Hitting the reset button would allow the team to get solid talent through the draft. The extra cap space can easily go to a few solid free agents. The Packers already have a QB successor on their roster so a potential rebuild could be even faster than you would think.
Jordan Love has some talent, he just needs the opportunity to showcase it. If the Packers were to give him a solid supporting cast they may continue to be successful. Unfortunately for Packers fans, it appears that the Rodgers era is here for a while longer and with it the cap space hell and consistent playoff losses.