After back-to-back MVP seasons, Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers are 4-8 through 12 weeks with a 3% of reaching the postseason, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Rodgers was already batting a broken right thumb heading into a Week 12 date with the Philadelphia Eagles, injuring his oblique muscle as well during a 40-33 loss on Sunday Night Football.
Third-year quarterback Jordan Love entered the game in relief of Rodgers and promptly dazzled against the Eagles prevent defense. While Love doesn’t quite have the clout or promise to definitively usurp Rodgers as QB1, Sunday night’s development may have signaled the end for Rodgers, who entered the NFL in 2005.
Rodgers turns 39 in four days and spent the 2021 and 2022 offseason deciding if he wanted to play for the Packers again — or at all in the NFL. In both circumstances, after conducting Favrian “will I or won’t I” decision-making processes, Rodgers returned to Green Bay for another hurrah. Until now, the choices were mostly wonderful for Rodgers, snagging consecutive MVP awards and NFC North crowns in 2020 and 2021.
But this time is different.
After the loss to Philadelphia and the oblique injury, Rodgers told reporters, “As long as we’re mathematically alive, I’d like to be out there.”
The problem here for Rodgers and the Packers? “Mathematically alive” is close to a farce through Week 12. The Washington Commanders would have to finish 2022 1-4 while the Packers barnstormed five straight wins — plus multiple losses from the Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, and Detroit Lions. The mathematically alive talk was applicable three weeks ago but is on life support now.
Furthermore, Rodgers simply hasn’t played well in 2022, especially compared to his otherworldly feats from 2020 and 2021. He may have encountered a Ben Roethlisberger-like fate, one in direct contrast to Tom Brady, who’s performed at an elite level from age 38 to, well, now. He ranks as follows via quarterback metrics through Week 12:
A simple sum of those rankings is 19th. That is — the mighty Rodgers is about the NFL’s 19th-best quarterback with five regular season games to go. His performance — whether one blames the thumb or otherwise — is unbecoming of the typical Rodgersian standard.
Financially, Rodgers’ dead cap figures look like this going forward:
Aaron Rodgers’ Dead Cap:
2023 = $99.7 million
2024 = $24.4 million
2025 = $16.3 million
2026 = $8.1 million
Green Bay won’t entirely be on the hook for all of that nastiness if Rodgers retires, but they won’t escape scot-free. Something’s gotta give, though. Rodgers isn’t performing up to a winning standard, the franchise has a young passer chomping at the bit for his time, and retirement has been on the docket for the incumbent amid the last two offseasons.
Rodgers says he wants a crack at the postseason if his team is still alive, but in reality, his team is done. In theory, Green Bay could trade Rodgers in the spring with a massive dead-cap penalty, but would a team want him for a king’s ransom after observing the mind-boggling Russell Wilson experiment in Denver?
And if Rodgers doesn’t retire, circling the wagons for another shebang in 2023, wouldn’t the outcome likely mirror this season?
That’s probably why Packers fans can be heard whispering about kicking off the Jordan Love era.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).