Aaron Rodgers is preparing to play in 2022. He just isn't sure where yet.
As Green Bay awaits his decision, the reigning MVP is torn on whether to return to the only pro team he's ever known, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday. Rodgers is said to be going back and forth on what he wants, with one alternate destination in particular standing out, Rapoport added.
"The forth has always been the Denver Broncos," Rapoport said. "Ever since the Aaron Rodgers rumors started, the Denver Broncos has always been the potential trade location. I'm not saying anything is happening right now. It doesn't seem like the Packers have entertained any trade thoughts at all. But in Rodgers' mind, if he was not in Green Bay, it seems that (Denver) would be the other spot he'd want to be."
NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Saturday that the Packers remain in "hopeful wait-and-see mode" regarding their star QB, and there will be no trade talks until "and unless" Rodgers notifies them that he does not want to return.
The Broncos, of course, recently hired former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their new head coach. Moreover, they feature a deep, youthful receiving corps and promising running back, a mid-tier offensive line (that was comparable to Green Bay's last year), and a talented defense. Denver is also flush with cap space, unlike the Pack, though it resides in a much tougher division and hasn't made the playoffs since 2015.
The biggest difference, and perhaps a major factor in the 38-year-old's thinking, is familiarity. Rodgers has built his entire legacy with the Packers, winning a Super Bowl and four MVPs while establishing himself as one of the best to ever spin a football. Additionally, he and coach Matt LaFleur have proved to be an ideal pairing over the past three seasons, with Rodgers winning consecutive MVPs as the team has won 13 games each year and made two NFC title appearances.
Rapoport noted there's a lot of positivity between Rodgers and Green Bay, something the QB himself has emphasized of late, with the organization intent on doing everything possible to keep him home. The front office has been in discussions with Rodgers' representation about a short-term deal that would make him the highest-paid player on an annual basis.
General manager Brian Gutekunst said earlier this week he's expecting an answer from Rodgers by the beginning of the new league year (March 16) -- the word could come as soon as Tuesday's tag deadline (March 8), per Rapoport. It's the biggest domino of the offseason, and the fall might shake up the balance of power in both conferences.