Not to get ahead of ourselves, but would Aaron Rodgers be the greatest quarterback ever to play for the Vikings, or just in the top three, and how well would he work with quarterbacks coach Brett Favre?
If you think this is satire, you haven’t been paying attention to the Packers, the Vikings, the history of great NFL quarterbacks or the NFL’s new approach to mega contracts.
First, let’s just be logical about this. If there can be Murder Hornets in the United States in 2020, if the U.S. government can acknowledge the presence of UFOs and not make a dent in the news cycle, surely Aaron Rodgers wearing purple is hardly out of the realm of possibility.
Remember, there was never any way Favre could ever play for the Vikings, and then Brad Childress was picking him up at the airport. “Impossible” is just a word we use for stuff we haven’t figured out yet. So let’s figure this out.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is signed through the 2022 season. Rodgers is signed with Green Bay through 2023.
Great NFL quarterbacks frequently leave their original franchises to finish their careers with other teams. Favre finished with the Vikings. Joe Montana finished his career with the Chiefs, Johnny Unitas with the Chargers, Joe Namath with the Rams, Peyton Manning with the Broncos and Tom Brady with the Chargers. (Just wait.)
The Packers transitioned masterfully from Favre to Rodgers, with Favre spending a year with the Jets before retiring and then unretiring to sign with the Vikings.
Now the Packers have spent a first-round draft pick on Jordan Love to be Rodgers’ eventual replacement, and Rodgers is 36 and coming off a season in which he led a pretty good roster to the NFC Championship Game.
I think the Packers are making a big mistake, nudging Rodgers toward the exit, but if they want to move on, they can.
Rodgers carries a $51 million dead cap hit in 2020. That number falls to $31.5 million in 2021, $17.2 million in 2022 and $2.852 million in 2023.
So the Packers would seem to be wise to wait until at least after the 2021 season to cut Rodgers and install Love as their starter.
NFL teams have been more willing in recent years to eat what they consider to be bad contracts. Wasting salary cap space on a departed player isn’t a good thing, but the Packers wouldn’t be the first to believe that it’s better than keeping problematic or overpaid players.
The Miami Dolphins took an $18.4 million dead-cap hit when they traded Ryan Tannehill to the Titans. The New York Giants ate $16 million to trade Odell Beckham Jr., and the Steelers ate $21.1 million to move on from Antonio Brown.
From a pure personnel standpoint, it makes no sense for the Packers to pay one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history to not play for them. But if reports suggesting that the Packers are tired of Rodgers’ ego are accurate, they could take that chance.
Cousins is signed for three more seasons, including 2020. He carries a $62 million dead cap hit in 2020. It falls to $41 million in 2021 and $10 million in 2022.
So by the 2022 season, the financial costs of the Packers cutting Rodgers and the Vikings cutting Cousins will be greatly reduced. By 2023, Cousins will be a free agent and the cost of cutting Rodgers would be negligible.
Consider that the Vikings do not have a likely successor for Cousins. Consider that the relationship between Favre and Rodgers, once awkward at best, has evolved into something like a friendship. Favre could tell Rodgers about the positives of playing in Minnesota, and the thrill of beating the Packers brain trust that shunned him.
Consider that in the NFL, great quarterbacks wind up in the oddest places.
Rodgers to the Vikings might not be imminent or even likely, but it’s more likely than the arrival of Murder Hornets and yawning about UFOs.