The Minnesota Vikings, nor any other NFC North franchise, has visited the Super Bowl since 2010. The Green Bay Packers continue to nibble at the edges of a Super Bowl berth but constantly fall short. Indeed, Green Bay has sorrowfully lost four straight NFC Championship games.
When a division is underrepresented for Super Bowl contention, quarterback turnover is generally in order. Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford have tenure as established, longstanding NFC North signal-callers. The Bears are still hoping to find the right dude after failing to draft Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft. And, the Vikings [fans] cannot decide if they even wholly support their 35-touchdown-per-season quarterback. Spell it out like that – and it sounds like a gridiron soap opera.
Green Bay was upset at home by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2020 NFC Championship. The oldest quarterback in football waltzed into the NFC, seemingly after looking around the league and tossing a dart at a team he enjoyed. It was the Buccaneers, and now they become the first NFL franchise to host a home Super Bowl. Tom Brady, man.
The hunt by NFC North teams to play February football will restart in about seven months. But the quarterback landscape within the division could be considerably altered.
Matthew Stafford — Traded
Well, he isn’t traded yet. Stafford and the Lions brass reportedly agreed, as a matter of groupthink, that it is time for the 32-year-old Lion to wear new football clothes. The news broke before the conference championship contests. Stafford has laced them up in Detroit 165 times but will now find a new residence. The market for Stafford will be robust. Why? Because there is collective consensus that Stafford just needs a winning organization to adopt him. That prognostication may be correct – we will find out in September.
Detroit hired a waggish and testosterone-fueled head coach in Dan Campbell last week. He told reporters that players on his roster will figuratively bite people’s kneecaps when the Lions get knocked to the turf. Stafford requested a trade shortly after the briefing – an apparent run-for-the-hills moment.
The New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Football Team, and Carolina Panthers are said to be destinations on the shortlist for Stafford’s career shift.
Mitchell Trubisky – The Usual
Predictably, Trubisky did just enough in December to hoodwink Chicagoans into believing his maturation, although delayed, is on the way. Veteran Nick Foles was awarded the starting quarterback job in Week 4 of the 2020 season when Trubisky unimpressed coach Matt Nagy. As a matter of goofy reciprocity, Foles later got the last laugh and orchestrated unimpressive stuff of his own, leading to a benching-after-injury in Week 12.
The free-agent quarterback market is not too alluring this offseason, unlike 2020’s edition. If the Bears sought to divorce Trubisky for good, the next men up include Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cam Newton, and Andy Dalton. Theoretically, Chicago might pounce on one of those savvy vets, but none are a major upgrade from Trubisky.
So, the Bears will likely keep Trubisky on an incredibly short leash and draft a quarterback in three months. The Vikings will meet that young man in no time as Trubisky has a documented history of struggling.
Aaron Rodgers – Non-Committal
Welcome to the almighty curveball news of the pre-Super Bowl hubbub. The Packers coughed away their homefield advantage and a Super Bowl berth to the Buccaneers in the NFC title game. That is a tradition for the Packers as of late, minus the homefield aspect of the equation.
Following the game in a press conference, Rodgers was visibly melancholy. There was no zeal in his words and any optimism for 2021 went unmentioned. Instead, the 37-year-old focused on the players – including himself – with uncertain futures. Wowzers.
It was not nearly as diva-like as Brett Favre from his final five campaigns in Green Bay. Each season after the Packers final loss, Favre would tease retirement or disenchantment with football. Then, he would ride back into town ready to slay all comers.
Rodgers is not at that level yet, but his despondence was palpable. That could hint at retirement, a trade request, or kneejerk sadness with the NFC Championship. In any event, the presser screamed discontentment from a man whose team just drafted a replacement starting quarterback.
Rodgers is unlikely to depart the Packers after one dejected chat with reporters. But the fissures of disgruntlement are widening. Even more than last year after the NFL draft.