Aaron Rodgers is still the Packers quarterback.
For now, anyway. Did Green Bay do enough with their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to crush a pre-draft social media storm involving the three-time NFL MVP? That’s the big question after the Packers selected Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes with the 29th pick in the first round on Thursday night.
MORE: Why Does Aaron Rodgers Want To Get Out?
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Thursday that Rodgers’ desire to part ways with the franchise after 16 seasons is real and that several factors are at work. Rodgers and the Packers are at odds over whether the veteran’s contract should be extended or restructured. Green Bay is in a salary cap crisis. There is a “last dance” feel after back-to-back NFC Championship failures with coach Matt LaFleur.
Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers is so upset with the Green Bay Packers that he has told some in the organization he does not want to return to the team, the league and team sources said Thursday at ESPN.
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– Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 29, 2021
And, of course, there’s Jordan Love – the first-round quarterback the Packers traded for in 2020.
MORE: Love Choice Wasn’t Motivation For Rodgers’ MVP Season, Adams Says
The stage was set for a potential draft day shock that would have passed Brett Favre to the Jets as a second-rate sitcom.
Green Bay CEO Brian Gutekunst delayed the drama? The Packers reportedly turned down an offer from the 49ers, who selected quarterback Trey Lance with the No.3 pick. Two other contenders didn’t take on a quarterback.
The Broncos, who had the No.9 pick, passed Justin Fields of Ohio State and Mac Jones of Alabama to catch Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. The Raiders drafted offensive tackle from the Alabama Alex Leatherwood, and Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden gushed about Rodgers dating from his days on the “Monday Night Football” booth. Rodgers would fill the need for both franchises for a QB.
Was the response on day one from the Packers enough? Stokes isn’t a flashy choice, but he fills a need that surfaced in the NFC Championship game loss to the Buccaneers. The Packers needed a cornerback upgrade to Jaire Alexander, despite Kevin King re-signing. Stokes is an athletic player who ran a 4.25-yard dash on 40 yards on his professional day.
But it is not a receiver. The Ravens drafted Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman at No.27 and Ole Miss ‘Elijah Moore is still on the board heading into Day 2. Stokes’ pick ticks a box and is nowhere near as nuclear as Love’s pick. , but it was still a lukewarm decision. that does not answer a burning question.
Will Rodgers really leave Green Bay before the start of the season? This answer will not be determined by the project.
The Broncos and Raiders are always worth watching, given Rodgers’ Bay Area roots, and the Seahawks are also worth watching. A successful exchange involving Russell Wilson would make more sense than grabbing a handful of future picks from another trading partner.
The uncertainty with Rodgers is anything but a “beautiful mystery.” It is increasingly likely that he will not end his career at Green Bay, and the timing of his departure has been pushed to an uncomfortable point. The lack of free agent activity this offseason, the deadlock in the contract and the public disconnect between Rodgers and the Packers made the situation ugly. The deadline for a move appears to be the end of the 2021 season, especially if Green Bay doesn’t reach the Super Bowl.
Writing Stokes won’t change that feeling, but honestly, which player would? Bateman? Moore? No, the Love Pickaxe damage is done. Remember when Mike McCarthy said, “The train left the station” in 2008?
This is still the case with Rodgers.
This feeling won’t go away anytime soon, either.