By: Jordan Kendall, Senior Staff Writer
Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has requested a trade. His relationship with the Packers has gone downhill since last year’s draft when they traded up and selected quarterback Jordan Love in the first round. While it is surprising that it has come to this point, I can’t blame Rodgers for wanting out of Green Bay. They failed to do enough to make the Packers a championship contender for a few years, and by the time they were contending it was too little too late. This week I want to discuss why I support Rodgers in wanting a trade.
For a while, Green Bay had arguably the strongest receiving core in the NFL. It started with wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings. Then, they brought in wide receivers Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. Throughout his career, Rodgers typically had some of the top receivers in football.
It’s important to note the plural receivers, because in 2018 that all changed. Nelson, Cobb and Adams were a three-headed monster of receivers in 2017. Adams had gradually earned the trust of Rodgers and was becoming his new favorite target. Nelson, his old favorite target, took a decreased role. In 2018 Nelson was released, and Cobb only played in nine games. He left after the 2018 season.
The NFL is a business. However, that doesn’t explain the lack of reinforcements brought in to replace them. Since 2018, the Packers have failed to sign a top free-agent wide receiver. They also have not drafted a skill position player in the first round besides Love since 2002. Once Nelson and Cobb left, they should have been much more aggressive in bringing in receivers.
Since 2018 their second-best wide receiver behind Adams has been Marques Valdes-Scantling (MVS). Last season he was a good second option with 690 yards and six touchdowns. However, I don’t understand why they chose not to take another receiver to try and replicate the three-headed monster from a few years prior.
When the Packers took Love, they passed on taking wide receivers Tee Higgins and Chase Claypool. Both had over 60 catches and 800 yards last season. I feel if they brought Higgins or Claypool in, they could have replicated the triple threat from before. I think it could have been the one missing piece that sends them to a Super Bowl instead of consecutive losses in the NFC Championship.
A trio of Adams, MVS, and either Higgins or Claypool is arguably the best receiver trio in football. Instead, the Packers took Love and are potentially losing their franchise quarterback because of it.
Speaking of Love, it makes absolutely no sense why they not only took him in the first round last year, but also traded up to get him. I would understand the move if Love was sliding in the draft, but he was likely going to be available in round two. I would also understand it if Rodgers either was coming off a serious injury, or showed signs of slowing down as he got older. Neither was the case, he threw for over 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns with only four interceptions in 2019 and also started all 16 games.
I had no explanation for why the Packers selected Love last year. After a year of thinking about it, I still don’t have a good reason why. Green Bay was a game away from the Super Bowl. They had a top-five quarterback on the back end of his career. They had an offense led by Adams and running back Aaron Jones who was among the league’s best. Their defense was ninth-best in football. They were just a few missing pieces away from being a championship contender.
This was not the time to look towards the future. This is when you need to go all-in on winning a Super Bowl. Trading up for a backup quarterback is one of the worst decisions you could make in this situation. Decisions such as this are why the Packers have only won one Super Bowl with Rodgers. They should’ve easily won two or three at least, but the organization has repeatedly shown an unwillingness to go all-in on winning a title.
It’s not just the lack of aggressiveness in acquiring talent. This year’s NFC Championship produced one of the worst decisions in recent memory. With 2:05 left on the clock, Green Bay trailed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23. They faced a fourth down inside the Buccaneers ten-yard-line. Instead of going for it, they kicked a field goal to cut the deficit to five points. This made no sense to me. Why not go for it?
Even if you don’t score a touchdown, Tampa is now backed up inside their own ten. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady threw three interceptions in the second half. The Packers’ defense was playing well. Brady is the last player Green Bay wants with the ball in this situation. They should have shown trust in both their offense and defense. Trust your MVP quarterback in Rodgers to deliver a touchdown when it’s needed most, or trust your defense that had played well up to that point to get one more stop. The decision to kick the field goal is a great example of why Rodgers only has one ring.
When you have a generational franchise quarterback such as Rodgers, you need to take advantage of it. The Packers have been very lucky in transitioning from Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre to another future Hall of Famer in Rodgers. Instead of going all-in on trying to compete for titles, the organization has failed to capitalize on this very unique opportunity.