NFL Sees Flurry Of Moves Topped Off By Russell Wilson Trade, Aaron Rodgers Extension

While NFL free agency isn’t set to kick off until March 16, teams have already begun to reshape their rosters in attempts to win now, or start rebuilding for the future.  One of the most significant storylines heading into the offseason were the bevy of uber-talented quarterbacks — Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and DeShaun Watson — who have been disgruntled and desiring a fresh start.

Fans didn’t have to wait long for a resolution on two-thirds of the trio. On Tuesday, the Seattle Seahawks traded Wilson and a 2022 fourth-round pick (114th overall) to the Denver Broncos for two first-round picks (2022’s ninth overall and a 2023), two second-round picks (2022’s 40th overall and a 2023), a 2023 fifth-round pick, quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, and defensive linemen Shelby Harris.

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For Denver, the trade was absolutely vital. Since 2016, the Broncos have started 11 QBs, a collection comprised of has-beens, journeymen, failed prospects, and unknowns. The result hasn’t been pretty, with a 39-58 total record and no playoff appearances over that span.

The 33-year-old Wilson — who had grown displeasurable in Seattle under head coach Pete Carrell despite years of success that resulted in a Super Bowl win — certainly looks to be the missing piece, and won’t have to carry the weight. Denver has done a solid job of building up their offensive core with promising young pieces like receivers Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and Courtland Sutton, along with running back Javonte Williams.

As for Seattle, trading away a nine-time Pro-Bowler is never an easy task. While the four high picks will definitely give the Seahawks a jumpstart towards acquiring younger talent, some experts like ESPN staff writer Bill Barnhill don’t believe it was a good enough package in return.

“No, I don’t think [it’s a good return]. The Seahawks are certainly getting plenty of volume back for one of the best players in franchise history, but it’s more quantity than quality.”

Lock — a former second-round pick — threw for 15 interceptions, a 57.3 completion percentage, and possessed a 75.4 QB rating in his last full season of starting back in 2020. Meanwhile, Fant has yet to reach over 700 receiving yards in a single season.

While Barnhill was surprised at the lack of quality the Seahawks were able to acquire, he reasoned that “maybe that wasn’t in the cards for a player in his mid-thirties who is about to get a massive extension.”

Elsewhere in the league, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has announced he will be returning to play for the Green Bay Packers next season. Initially, it was reported that Green Bay and Rodgers signed a four-year, $200 million extension that would make him the highest paid player in NFL history with a $50 million annual salary. Rodgers, 38, later tweeted out the report was “inaccurate,” and that neither a deal nor a signing is official.

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The four-time MVP’s and Green Bay’s relationship has been a rollercoaster for quite some time now. Rodgers had previously been upset with the team’s drafting, which included taking QB Jordan Love in the first round back in 2020.

Afterwards, Rodgers said that while he had the desire to play into his 40s with the Packers, he continually kept an enigmatic stance on his future, bringing up the possibility of retirement on multiple occasions.

Eventually, it would lead to boycotts and missed offseason practices before a contract restructuring occured on the last year of his former deal, making a possible separation  — one that seemed all but certain to happen at one point — between the two parties after the 2021 season easier.

The Packers are certainly showing they’re on board with Rodgers for the next couple seasons, franchise tagging his favorite target Davante Adams. Green Bay’s Super Bowl odds improved from 15-1 to 12-1 at Caesar’s Sportsbook and is the favorite to win the NFC, while Denver’s odds improved from 25-1 to 12-1.

Green Bay Packers General Manager Claims Team Is ‘Committed’ To Aaron Rodgers 

The Green Bay Packers have no plans to trade Aaron Rodgers, and believe the star player will be playing for the team for 2021 and beyond. General Manager Brian Gutekunst spoke about Rodgers after ESPN reported that Rodgers was disgruntled with his team and apparently told some members of the organization that he doesn’t want to return to the Packers. 

“We’ve been working through this for a little while now, and I just think it may take some time. But he’s a guy that kind of makes this thing go. He gives us the best chance to win, and we’re going to work towards that end.”

Rodgers is under contract until 2023, however, he doesn’t have guaranteed money left on his deal. Gutekunst said the lines of communication between Rodgers and the Packers has been open throughout the offseason, and claimed that the Packers never told Rodgers they would trade him, and emphasized the opposite. 

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“We’re not going to trade Aaron Rodgers.” 

Part of Rodgers’ unhappiness reportedly stems from last year’s draft when the Packers didn’t inform him of their decision to trade up and draft his potential replacement, Jordan Love. 

“I certainly look back to last year’s draft and just kind of maybe some of the communication issues we could have done better. There’s no doubt about it. The draft’s an interesting thing. It can kind of unfold differently than you think it’s going to unfold, and it happens pretty fast. But certainly, I think, looking back on it sitting where we sit today there could have been some communication things we did better,” Gutekunst said. 

“I’m not going to speak for Aaron, but I think obviously we have a really good team and I do think he’ll play for us again.”

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“Like I said, we’re going to work towards that and we’ve been working towards that on a number of different fronts. The value that he adds to our football is really immeasurable, you know what I mean? He brings so much to the table not only as a player but as a leader. He’s so important to his teammates, to his coaches, so yeah, that’s the goal,” Gutekunst explained. 

“I think we obviously have a very good football team here, we have a great organization, we’re very committed to him and I think as the lines of communication have been open, I’m just optimistic that that’s what’s best for the Green Bay Packers and I truly believe that’s what’s best for Aaron Rodgers, as well.”

Former Packers coach and current Cowboys coach, Mike McCarthy, spoke to the press this week about Rodgers and the draft in general: “I think it’s like everything in this business. Look, I don’t think anything ever surprises you, and things like that go on. Conversations, I think, are always going on when it comes to player acquisition. Obviously no one knows the impact that Aaron Rodgers has made on the Green Bay Packers but, yeah, I haven’t given it much thought. Obviously I didn’t see anything happen today, so … good news story.”

“It’s kind of a hypothetical and it’s kind of, like I said, our desire is to have Aaron as our quarterback leading this team and competing for championships. So, it’s a little bit hypothetical, so we’ll get to that. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” Gutekunst concluded.