Denver Broncos: Some major updates with Aaron Rodgers situation

Denver Broncos 2021 offseason: Aaron Rodgers
Denver Broncos 2021 offseason: Aaron Rodgers /

The Denver Broncos have finished OTAs and for the time being, the quarterback position remains unsettled with the upcoming camp competition between Teddy Bridgewater and the incumbent, Drew Lock. For the time being, it’s hard to really say the Broncos are “waiting” for the situation with Aaron Rodgers to become settled with the Green Bay Packers because there’s really no way of knowing how that’s going to turn out.

Rodgers has missed OTAs for the first time in his career. It’s all relative compared to the amount of money he makes on a year-to-year basis, but Rodgers has already forfeit some substantial cash and at this point.

Again, for the first time in 16 years, Rodgers declined to report for voluntary and mandatory OTAs. It will be fascinating to see if he reports in late July to Packers training camp, but there’s a substantial development that bears monitoring before Packers camp.

In fact, that substantial development and date is July 2, when NFL players are required to inform the league and their teams of the intent to opt-out of the 2021 season.

Why does this date matter as far as Rodgers is concerned? Well, if Rodgers is serious about not playing for the Packers this season and the Packers refuse to trade him now or any time before the 2022 offseason, Rodgers may have to make a business decision of his own.

Denver Broncos watching next Aaron Rodgers development

As Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio points out, Rodgers would have to make the permanent decision to opt-out of the 2021 season to do so, but all of this talk of the Green Bay Packers getting back a bunch of money from Rodgers would be null and void should he decide to simply opt-out of the season now.

This would not be the greatest news for Denver Broncos fans who are hoping Rodgers will play for their team in 2021, but it’s one of the top cards Rodgers has in his hand at the moment. If the Packers’ threat is to recoup cash from Rodgers, he can eliminate that option as well as the possibility of helping Green Bay at all in the 2021 season by opting out.

Rodgers has been outspoken this offseason about how much he’s enjoying his time off, so a full year off of vacationing, hanging out with friends, singing Taylor Swift tunes, and maybe hosting some more Jeopardy! could be right up Rodgers’ alley.

Money does not seem to be a concern for Rodgers in this dispute with the Packers, and he’s made that abundantly clear from the beginning. This is something personal between him and the Packers’ front office, specifically, it seems with general manager Brian Gutekunst.

If Rodgers opts out by the July 2 deadline, it obviously would mean he won’t be playing for the Packers in 2021, but it would also mean that he won’t be playing for the Denver Broncos, either.

What would certainly work to the Packers’ advantage is Rodgers deciding not to opt-out by the July 2 deadline, meaning Rodgers intends to play this season even if it’s not for Green Bay. Why that works to the Packers’ advantage is that it would keep the door open for Rodgers forfeiting a bunch of money.

So, is Rodgers going to opt out in 2021?

Not according to 850 KOA Broncos insider Benjamin Allbright.

Since Rodgers is apparently not going to opt-out of the 2021 season, the possibility of forfeiting a bunch of money seems to be a major advantage in favor of the Green Bay Packers on the business side of all of this. The Packers could just throw up a middle finger at Rodgers, work to get the money he’s owed back if he doesn’t show up, not trade him, and roll with Jordan Love.

The issue that I keep on seeing from so many comes from a false belief that Rodgers has little or no leverage in this at all.

If Rodgers doesn’t care about the financial repercussions, he really holds all of the cards here regarding where he plays in 2021 and beyond.

The threat of retirement also essentially gives Rodgers a no-trade clause.

The Packers can tell Rodgers they are not trading him until 2022. Rodgers can simply say that he’s going to retire and stay retired in that case, meaning they might get some cash back for him but they would get nothing back for losing Rodgers in actual player assets, something they could get a lot of if they would just relent and trade him.

One of the primary arguments I have faced from people on Twitter about the Packers holding off on trading Rodgers is that they could simply let him retire in 2021, or do whatever he wants to do, then trade his rights in 2022 and have more teams than just the Denver Broncos involved in trying to acquire him.

The issue with that is simply this — if Rodgers doesn’t want to play somewhere, there’s nothing stopping him from just retiring and not showing up for that new team. Rodgers will have to be agreeable to any trade the Green Bay Packers make if they end up going down that road.

He doesn’t actually have a no-trade clause in his contract, but unlike other younger players, Rodgers has the threat of retirement.

For example, let’s say Tua Tagovailoa doesn’t live up to expectations, and the Dolphins decide to throw a bunch of first-round picks, Xavien Howard, and whatever else at the Packers for Rodgers. Brian Gutekunst likes the deal and decides to accept their offer. If Rodgers doesn’t want to play for the Dolphins, he could retire or stay retired and simply not play for them.

Rodgers holds more cards here than most people seem to think, so if he wants the Denver Broncos and no one else, he could force his way there, period.

Whether that happens in 2021 or 2022 or even at all, remains to be seen.

If Rodgers doesn’t opt-out of the 2021 season, and he’s not expected to, it really keeps the door open for a trade. The Packers may force Rodgers to skip training camp and really prove he doesn’t want to be part of the team this year if his words and actions aren’t enough for them already.