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A Draft For The Rages

Forget all the happy talk from GM Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur; the just-completed NFL draft has put an expiration date on quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ time in Green Bay. Whether it’s following next season or more likely the one after, it’s coming. And everybody knows it.

In fact, this became pretty clear a year ago. Remember how much interest Gutekunst had in quarterback Drew Lock? Multiple reports from respected NFL insiders strongly suggested the former Missouri star would’ve been the Packers’ pick at No. 44 in the second round had the Broncos not taken him at 42. So moving on from Rodgers has been in the works for quite some time.

The only realistic way for Rodgers to remain with the Packers beyond 2021 would for him to lead the team to the Super Bowl either this season or next, and Gutekunst made pretty sure that isn’t going to happen by his actions over the weekend. And I don’t mean choosing fullback Josiah Deguara in the third round. The truth is, most people wouldn’t know the former Cincinnati star if he walked into their kitchen. No, what should make Packers fans furious is the strategy employed by Gutekunst – a strategy that all but eliminates any chance the Packers may have had at winning another Lombardi Trophy with No. 12 under center.

I’m not suggesting the Packers were likely to play in either of the next two Super Bowls, but with a couple of strong offseasons, they would’ve at least had a chance. Acquire a legitimate No. 2 wide receiver, a  starting-caliber right tackle, a run-stuffing defensive end, and an inside linebacker with three-down skills, and this team would’ve been formidable. Maybe not formidable enough to take down the mighty 49ers, but with a little luck, they could’ve missed the 49ers in January. With those additions, I’d like the Packers’ chances against any other team in the NFC. But Gutekunst decided to go in another direction, and for that, he deserves all the shit he’s been taking on social media and television. And trust me, he’s taking a lot of shit.

After free agency and the draft, the Packers don’t appear to be any better than they were at the end of last season. They’re worse at right tackle with Rick Wagner replacing Bryan Bulaga. They’re pretty much the same with Christian Kirksey replacing Blake Martinez at inside linebacker. They’re a little better at wide receiver with the addition of Devin Funchess. And they should be a little better at running back with second-round pick AJ Dillon taking carries away from Jamaal Williams. But nothing has really changed. The team that was humiliated twice by the 49ers will return pretty much intact. Meanwhile, the 49ers drafted stud pass rusher Javon Kinlaw and explosive receiver Brandon Aiyuk and traded for All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams. If the two teams played tomorrow, the 49ers might win by 40 points and rush for 400 yards.

To be honest, it almost feels as if Gutekunst and LaFleur are willing to accept a couple of seasons of either missing the playoffs or getting knocked out early in order to ensure Rodgers’ exit out of town. It seems pretty obvious they both want to start the Jordan Love era as soon as possible, and due to Rodgers’ contract and the salary cap, that figures to be in 2022. And let’s face it, moving on from arguably the greatest quarterback in franchise history will be a lot easier if things don’t go too well between now and then.

I can’t blame the two, especially LaFleur, for wanting to move on from Rodgers. Every new coach wants a young quarterback he can groom, and more importantly, who’ll listen to him. Mike Holmgren had Brett Favre. Mike McCarthy had Rodgers. Bill Walsh had Joe Montana. Bill Belichick had Tom Brady. Sean Payton has Drew Brees. Kyle Shanahan has Jimmy Garoppolo. The list goes on and on. Until Rodgers is wearing another uniform, LaFleur won’t really be able to implement his system. That’s why the offense looked a lot like McCarthy’s in 2019, and despite all the talk about moving to a more run-oriented attack, it’ll still going to look very similar in 2020. The coach can call all the running plays he wants, but the quarterback still has the final say. And let’s be honest, this quarterback ain’t handing the ball off 40 times a game.

Gutekunst and LaFleur will obviously try to win, but they simply don’t have the players to win big. That’s something I’m sure they know, and deep down inside, are OK with. Last weekend’s draft was about getting ready for the ’22 season when Love will be handing the ball to Dillon, and Deguara will be clearing the way for him.

And I’m not 100% convinced we’re going to have to wait until 2022 for this to happen. It’s safe to assume Rodgers is upset over Gutekunst drafting Love and not adding any weapons in what was considered to be one of the best wide receiver drafts of all-time. If the offense struggles early next season, and the Packers are floundering around .500, you might see enough friction between the star player and the organization to start a fire. Things may get so uncomfortable that the Packers need to move on from Rodgers and are willing to deal with the salary cap ramifications. I’m not saying this will happen, or that it’s even likely, but it’s possible.

Favre left on very ugly terms, and it was mostly his doing. He mulled retirement every spring, and when he finally did retire, and the Packers moved on to Rodgers, he threw a fit. Rodgers may leave on similarly ugly terms, and that would be too bad. He’s been a great player and a great Packer in every way. He deserves a chance to win one more ring while in Green Bay. That looked like a very real possibility just a few days ago, but now it seems about as likely as one of Gutekunst’s day 2 draft picks from 2018 ever making an impact. This past draft was the beginning of the end for Rodgers, and that’s what fans should be most upset about.

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21 Responses “A Draft For The Rages”

  1. Gute is nobody's pal
    04/27/2020 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks for the title, it’s about the only thing I’ve found humorous about this draft. I’m normally not a big draft grade /winners and losers kind of guy, but we were clearly the losers this year. What a fucking joke. I just don’t want to see Aaron in purple, that’s about it. I will likely follow him to his new team, and I’m very disappointed in Green Bay right now.
    Why the hell are they so afraid to put weapons around the guy. We have seen it work with historic success. So instead of doing that, try and reinvent the wheel. I’m so sick of hearing this team compared to SF, SF has a 1st and 2nd round pick at WR.

  2. Stan
    04/27/2020 at 3:17 pm

    Based on the negative fallout from this draft, do you think Gute makes a surprise WR signing like Taylor Gabriel or trades for Curtis Samuel? Or has he not only hit the snooze button but shut off the alarm for his off season slumber?

  3. Stan
    04/27/2020 at 3:21 pm

    I think Aaron ending up in SF is the likely scenario. Garoppolo fails to win a SB again and the 49ers scope up a seething Rodgers as their final piece and he finally gets to play for his hometown team with the weapons he should have got in GB.

  4. Bob
    04/27/2020 at 3:26 pm

    A good new WR would be nice but the current group is below average but not that bad.
    I am more concerned they did nothing to improve the (run) defense after the 49ers rushed for 285 yards.

  5. Steve S.
    04/27/2020 at 4:00 pm

    Michael, my heart wants to disagree with you, but my head agrees 100% with what you’ve stated so very well. I am both upset and depressed by the events of the last few days.

  6. Cocoman
    04/27/2020 at 4:14 pm

    The big problem for a Samuel trade (or any trade for an expiring contract) will be the COVID-19 Pandemic. He has one season left on his contract and there may not be a season. IMO, the same goes for the remaining FA’s who would normally sign one-year deals. I wonder if a lot of that activity is put off until right before the season when teams have a little more certainty.

    04/27/2020 at 5:40 pm

    I agree with this analysis. But I will say, Rodgers can’t be happy but he does seem to genuinely like and appreciate Matt LaFleur and vice versa. The atmosphere of the 2019 Packers from the beginning of the year was a very positive, fun enviornment.

    If that culture continues, I don’t see an ugly ending for Rodgers in Green Bay. I’d say in 2022 or 2023, he leaves on amicable terms with the organization.

  8. Tom Moshier
    04/27/2020 at 5:43 pm

    The Jordan Love era my start sooner than that. Remember 38 yr old Big Ben blew out his elbow last year and missed most of the season. While 39 yr old Drew Brees injury cost him a month. At 36, with Rodgers bad habit of holding the ball too long. He’s an injury waiting to happen. Look, if Rodgers stays healthy, and plays at a high level he’s got two, and probably three years left for a chance to get another ring. That puts him at 39. If he wants to play longer than that he’ll have to go elsewhere. The notion that the Packers put an expiration date on Aaron Rodgers is nonsense. The dude is 36 yrs old. He’s got a built in expiration date. All athletes do. If he’s not willing to run LaFleur’s offense, then I don’t have a lot of sympathy for him. Because he pulled the same crap with McCarthy.

  9. NP40
    04/27/2020 at 7:31 pm

    They won 13 games last year. Gee, I wonder why ? Must’ve been Gute’s stellar drafting. I wonder if Love could squeeze out 13 wins throwing to Geronimo, MVS, Marcedes Lewis, Graham, Kumerow and the other Arena league garbage they gave him.

    Here’s something Gute and MLF haven’t considered. What if Rodgers is still playing well two years from now ? Cut him loose because you need to get Love on the field ? Think fans are steaming at the prospect they’re forcing out Rodgers now ? Wait till these clowns actually do it. Every bar in GB will have Gutekunst dartboards.

    Outside of Belichick, there is no coach or GM even remotely close to being favored over a HOF QB. I can replace MLF and GutePace tomorrow with better people but I’d have one hell of a time doing that with Rodgers. I could bring in John Dorsey and make SB runs for the next 4 yrs with Rodgers.

    Jordan Love isnt going to beat San Fran either doing rollouts to Marcedes Lewis and especially when the D gets trucked on high school running plays.

    No help to shore up run D so they then must think it’s scheme ? If so, why is Pettine still here ? Same reason Gute can give arthritic Jimmy Graham $20 million. There’s zero accountabilty in this organization unless you’re a player. Murphy and Gutekunst made millions because Rodgers QBs here. These idiots were born on 3rd base and think they hit a triple.

  10. NP40
    04/27/2020 at 8:49 pm

    Peter King reported that Opie Kotite was tryng to move up with the Vikes for Love. Once he got through the teens Opie went into heat and decided to dump the girl that brought him to the dance.

    Opie’s whole “but muh draftboard fell, oh noes” schtick is about as believeable as the forty time he thought Jimmy Graham had. Somehow, mysteriously, that darn draft board never seems to fall for a WR that would help Rodgers. Wonder why ?

  11. Nerd
    04/27/2020 at 9:39 pm

    Maybe Aaron will start stepping into his throws, get the ball out, snap the ball before zero on the play clock. Remember when he had three turnovers in the NFC Championship game? Just sayin’.

  12. Tom Moshier
    04/27/2020 at 11:42 pm

    John Dorsey as GM? Now that’s funny. Maybe he could bring Freddie Kitchens as head coach with him. Since Aaron Rodgers does what ever the hell he wants anyway. Does 12 really need a HC? John Dorsey has been run out of two front offices now. Cleveland was a complete undisciplined disaster last year. Just what we need. Ray Rhodes all over again.

    If Rodgers is playing well two years from now, he’ll get a third. And if he’s not he’ll be gone. That’s the way it should be for everyone. Even if your name is Aaron Rodgers. But all players, even HOF QB’s, unusual decline with age. Brett Favre, Payton Manning, Tom Brady just to name a few. While it’s possible he may still be playing at a high level, it’s highly unlikely considering what we’ve seen these past two seasons.

    Your man crush threw for 26 TD’s last year. Mostly to your Arena guys. Our 13-3 record had as much to do with Aaron Jones as it did with Aaron Rodgers. 12 had big games against Oakland, KC, and Dallas. With a come from behind win against the Lions. He was pretty pedestrian for the rest. In fact he apologized to LaFleur after the first game against the Bears promising to play better.

    Let’s do this. Assuming he stays healthy, I say Delvin Funchess numbers at the end of the season will be competitive if not better to the 4 WR’s taken after the 26th pick. I don’t even know who they are. And if they are competitive then what would we have gained by drafting a WR in the first round?

    Now you could make the argument for Queen or Blacklock instead of Love. But would that have been enough to put us over the top? Depends on how they turn out this year. My guess is rookie contributions are going to be down across the board this season because of the pandemic lockdown.

    It’s clear to me LaFleur wants a power running game like he had in Tennessee with Derrick Henry. He wants to pound the ball with AJ Dillion and Aaron Jones. Setting up play action. Rodgers will have Adams and Funchess as his primary targets. That’s hardly nothing. I happen to believe Kirksey is a huge improvement over Blake Martinez. Micheal disagrees. While we may not win 13 games this year, I still say we win the division. Once we get into the playoffs, anything can happen. But everyone wants to write the Packers obituary now because we drafted Jordan Love in the first round and upset Aaron Rodgers. I couldn’t careless if he’s pissed. Your getting paid 34 million dude, do your job.

  13. 9Gute
    04/28/2020 at 3:43 pm

    After listening to Greg Cosell on Rich Eisen’s show today, I’m now convinced the plan is to set Rodgers up to fail in 2020. That way, moving on from him after the 2020 season is more palatable to the fanbase. (Cosell believes it is quite possible the idea is to move on from Rodgers after this season.)

    My hope is Aaron threatens retirement (and follows through) thus accelerating all 51 million in dead cap to the Packers 2020 cap.

    Who knew hiring a rookie HC who just came off coordinating the 25th ranked Titans offense wouldn’t get the respect of a Hall of Fame QB in running the offense the way the rookie HC wanted? Stunning.

    These two guys do not get along. Never did. Never had a chance.

  14. Nerd
    04/28/2020 at 7:07 pm

    Allowing Rodgers to throw falling backward off his back foot is setting him up to fail. Allowing him to hold the ball 8 seconds, pass up open receivers, snap the ball with 0 on the play clock and continue to believe he runs the franchise, is setting him up to fail. IMO

  15. Nerd
    04/28/2020 at 7:11 pm

    A solid running game helps a declining QB as much as it does a young one who is learning the game.

    As for ILBs, those guys take a year to develop, with the exception of Curtis Bolton, who I believe is still on the roster.

  16. NP40
    04/28/2020 at 10:01 pm

    Newsflash. We have a HOF QB playing now, locked in for 4 yrs, so what kind of a coach shoves him out the door because they don’t think he’s playing within the offense ? Gute just extended him, maybe Gute and MLF should get him a legit no. 2 and he won’t need to scramble around for 10 seconds. Maybe he does it because 95% of his WRs suck and can’t beat man coverage. I don’t remember people bitching when he had Jordy and Jennings.

    These geniuses want to play smashmouth against stacked boxes with 4.7 WRs and TEs and think they’ll create all kinds of mismatches ? How ? They can’t outrun anybody.

    The 49ers had Samuel, Kittle and Goodwin and still brought in Sanders and drafted Aiyuk. Course what would they know compared to Gutes genius stroke of adding Devin effing Funchess.
    Dorsey could draft circles around Opie.

    Tell you what. You keep Gutey, MLF, and Love and I’ll take Rodgers and Dorsey, with a new HC and Wade Phillips as my DC and we’ll see who performs better the next 4 yrs.

  17. 9Gute
    04/29/2020 at 3:01 pm

    Here’s something to consider. If the NFL doesn’t play this season, which is a distinct possibility, contracts still have to be paid whether they play, or not. Rodgers would get his money for 2020 same as every other under contract player, but his contract would tick down by a season.

    It is a possibility Aaron Rodgers took his last snap as a Packer in the NFC Championship Game at SF. Spotrac just tweeted out they could do a post-June 1st cut next off-season and the cap hit would be 17.4 million after paying out a bonus.

    The Packers would be wise to wait to sign Jordan Love to the last possible moment or even into the season to ensure they aren’t paying him to sit like the rest of the roster if NFL is cancelled for 2020. Pack would hold his rights until next spring. Sign Jordan in the spring before his rights revert back to being eligible for the draft. That way Love’s clock on his rookie deal doesn’t start until next season and they don’t burn a year in 2020 during a possible cancelled season.

    Packers could legitimately walk away from this never having to see Rodgers not run MLF’s offense ever again and have Jordan Love on his rookie deal for a full 5 seasons. A buddy of mine hinted to me that this had to be part of the planning in drafting Jordan Love. I don’t know for sure, because I don’t think the Packers brass is smart enough, but maybe.

  18. 9Gute
    04/29/2020 at 3:24 pm

    My bad. 17.2 million dead cap hit, not 17.4.

  19. 9Gute
    04/29/2020 at 4:03 pm

    After Brett Favre went on with Rich Eisen, I’m starting to think even if the 2020 season isn’t cancelled, we may have seen the last of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.

    Knowing that Brett spoke with Aaron after the Jordan Love pick and hearing him speak to this situation, there’s no doubt it is over for Aaron in Green Bay. He’s a lame duck QB at very best.

    Brett spoke of retiring and unretiring and I got the sense he was alluding to Aaron possibly taking the same line with the Packers as he did.

    Back when the Packers took Jaire, Aaron tweeted out that night that it was “A great night for Wisconsin” and acknowledged the pick of a CB and an extra 1st rounder along with the Bucks win. Nothing after Gary was selected. Don’t blame him for not being excited about Rashan. So far absolutely diddly on this draft and he’s captive like the rest of us during this pandemic so why no response? Guy has to have turned down more interview requests than Jordan Love’s 17 interceptions at Utah State last season. Guy has to be emboldened by reading and hearing his peers saying he should be irked and miffed by the Packers.

    End of the beginning was long before the Love pick. The fall out from the exacerbation is going to be glorious to watch.

    Packers don’t need to play a down this season to be the most exciting team in the league.

  20. Tom Moshier
    04/29/2020 at 9:31 pm

    Wade Phillips wouldn’t come to Green Bay when Ted Thompson was GM and they were buddies. What makes you think he’d come now that he’s approaching his 70’s?

    And just stop with the “if we had a legitimate number 2 he wouldn’t hold the ball so long. Rodgers has always, always held the ball too long. Even with Jordy and Jennings. Let’s see how that works out for him now with his 36 year old brittle body. He’s also a diva, doesn’t take to coaching, passive/aggressive with management, and won’t run LaFleur’s offense.

    An organization will put up with a lot of crap from a player so long as he’s talented. But the minute those skills start to erode the player becomes expendable. Cam Newton is a prefect example. He’s a man without a team. Aaron Rodgers is getting dangerously close to the tipping point.

    A power running game with Derrick Henry made a very impressive playoff run and made Ryan Tannehill actually look like and NFL QB. Just imagine what it might do for Aaron Rodgers. But your not going to tell 12 what to do. Only he knows best. That’s a good way to lose your team.

    I know, we’ll have our new GM John Dorsey hire Mike Sherman as HC! He let Favre run amok and become a diva too! But I’m sure it’ll be fine…..

  21. Tom Moshier
    04/29/2020 at 11:01 pm

    Really? So now we should seek approval of all our draft choices by way of tweet from Aaron Rodgers! Let’s just make him GM too! We’ve already established 12 doesn’t need a HC or OC. Only Aaron Rodgers knows best!

    And the silliness continues…….

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About Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for close to 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2006. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.