Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been studying some old film and seems poised to bring back the big plays that hallmarked his earlier career.
Aaron Rodgers is synonymous with the Green Bay Packers and he’s clearly headed for the Hall of Fame when his playing days are over. That’s both the team Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, to be clear.
Despite two-straight seasons in which Rodgers hasn’t been what we had grown accustomed to seeing, he was still very efficient and led the Packers to another NFC championship game in early 2020.
Perhaps a victim of his own success, many have referred to 2019 as a “down season” for Rodgers. A season in which, according to Pro Football Reference, he still put up 4,000 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
To the naked eye, Rodgers may not look like the quarterback he once was, but make no mistake that he’s still the Green Bay Packers’ best chance to return to glory right now.
The move up in the first round of this year’s NFL draft by Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst in order to take Jordan Love caught everyone’s attention – especially Rodgers’. Rodgers has come out looking very motivated and ready for the 2020 season so far in training camp.
According to Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Rodgers admitted he’s been watching some film from the 2010 season, the last in which the Green Bay Packers won a Super Bowl, and he noticed a few things from then that have been missing from his game now. He plans to make a few tweaks and hopefully, regain some of that past magic.
Aaron Rodgers acknowledged he’s had a few good practices lately. He won’t divulge details, but says he was watching some 2010 film, and he noticed something different between then and now. He’s implemented that change the past couple days, thinks it made a big difference.
— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) August 24, 2020
Rodgers and the big play were two peas in a pod early in his starting career but those have become fewer and further between the past few seasons. Injuries to the receiver group and the lack of a dependable complementary piece opposite Davante Adams has diminished the opportunities downfield for the Green Bay Packers.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, one of the fastest players on the Gree Bay Packers’ roster, recently said he dealt with an injury last year that hindered his ability to get downfield like he had during his rookie season. So far in practice, Rodgers has been testing the chemistry with the speedy wide out and seems to be signaling that we’ll see more of that when the games count for real.
After suffering the collarbone injury in 2017, Rodgers hasn’t seemed to have the same “oomph” on his deep balls, some of which can also be attributed to the leg injury suffered in the 2018 season opener, which lingered on throughout the year. Questions about whether Rodgers could muster up the ability to get it there on the shot play anymore have been heard and Rodgers surely is aware that they’re out there.
Any time Rodgers has felt like he’s had something to prove over the years, he seemed to put a little something extra into his game. 2020 seems like the year of “I’m not done being Aaron Rodgers”. This, after the conversations about Rodgers’ contract have popped up in more and more places.
The quarterback turns 37 in December and still has another four seasons on his current deal, which runs through the 2023 season. The guaranteed money is what is spurring many of those conversations, along with the drafting of Love, of course.
Rodgers counts $21.6 million on this year’s salary cap but carries a ghastly $51 million dead cap hit if he were to be cut or traded (not happening). Next season, he counts $36.3 million towards the cap and carries a dead cap hit of $31.5 million. In 2022, the dead cap hit drops to just over $17 million and that’s when some are pegging the Green Bay Packers to make a move of some sort to move into the Jordan Love era.
37 years old is far on the other side of 30, in sports terms but Rodgers has maintained that he’s not thinking about the end of his playing days just yet. A resurgence in 2020 and another deep playoff run could make things very interesting for the Green Bay Packers.
While Rodgers sat for three seasons behind Brett Favre, some 15 years ago, that formula just doesn’t happen or make as much sense in today’s NFL. The structure of rookie contracts gives NFL teams more incentive than ever to play and get the most out of their rookie quarterbacks. Teams like the Seattle Seahawks with Russell Wilson, Kansas City Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes and Baltimore Ravens with Lamar Jackson are just a few in recent history to capitalized on a manageable quarterback salary to strengthen other areas of the team.
Video surfaced the other day of the Packers’ quarterbacks throwing into a net, with Love missing the mark and Rodgers promptly throwing two-straight dead center. It was probably some of the first of many “not so fast” moments we’ll see this season from Rodgers, signaling that he still has work to do in a Green Bay Packers uniform.