It's been all quiet on the Wisconsin front over the last few weeks as there have been no new developments concerning the dispute between Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The timeline feels destined to accelerate soon, though, as mandatory offseason activities begin in Green Bay this week and there is no indication Rodgers plans on attending any of them.
Tuesday marks the start of Packers minicamp. If Rodgers isn't there, the team is within their contractual rights to fine him $93,085. The penalties will only get steeper as we head deeper into the offseason and actual training camp begins. It feels unlikely the team will fine Rodgers just for minicamp; there's still a few months of summer left to convince Rodgers to come back on his own and fining him at the first available opportunity doesn't feel like a step towards mending the relationship. Hardball should and probably will be Green Bay's last option.
But they gotta do something at some point. Peter King threw out an idea in his weekly FMIA column that makes quite a bit of sense to a neutral observer. In the man's own words:
The idea: The Packers commit to trade Rodgers, pacifying the angry quarterback—but the deal would not happen till next spring. Rodgers, in turn, agrees to give the Packers one more season in exchange for being allowed to transition to a new team before the 2022 draft.
Packers president Mark Murphy, who’s got to be Henry Kissinger here (look it up, kids), must be searching for an exit strategy. If I were in Murphy’s chair, I’d undertake another secret mission to meet with Rodgers and agent David Dunn, just the three of them, and propose one more year of Green Bay employment with the knowledge that Rodgers and Dunn could give the Pack a list of teams the QB would be willing to play for in 2022.
This would still result in the worst possible outcome for Packers fans, which is seeing Rodgers in a different uniform for the first time ever. But if the divorce is inevitable, this is the only feasible solution in which both sides are left somewhat satisfied. Green Bay gets a year to prepare for his departure. Rodgers only has to play one more season and then can go to one of the teams he wishes. Stay together for the kids, for at least one more season.
The tough part is obviously convincing Rodgers that risking injury in his age-37 season is worth a free ticket out of there and that Packers brass will actually do what they promise. It seems that the divide we see now was borne out of distrust between Rodgers and certain members of the front office. There isn't an easy solution to fix that, and King's proposal requires more faith in GM Brian Gutekunst and President Mark Murphy by Rodgers' camp than most other possible outcomes.
But the clock is ticking. Rodgers might be willing to go through a protracted holdout through the beginning of the regular season to get what he wants, but that will be a PR firestorm that both sides would probably want to avoid. On the other hand, the list of solutions to this problem that leaves both sides relatively satisfied is extremely short. King has one here-- but it'll require a leap of faith from both sides in a situation where trust has come in short supply.