Vikings Could Kill the Aaron Rodgers Era in Green Bay
The 2022 Green Bay Packers season has not gone as planned. Visions of four straight division titles danced in their heads after it was certain that Aaron Rodgers would return to rural Wisconsin for an 18th season. However, 15 weeks of inconsistent football unfolded, and now Green Bay finds itself in an unfamiliar position fighting for its playoff lives.
The team that usurped the Pack at the top of North arrives in Green Bay with NFC playoff seed jockeying still to do. Undoubtedly on the minds of these Vikings –- and especially Za’Darius Smith -– is the possibility of sweeping the Packers in the regular season, a feat Minnesota has not pulled off since 2017.
Meanwhile, two time zones west of the 125th Border Battle, Derek Carr, the man Davante Adams left Aaron Rodgers for, will be benched for the final two games of the Raiders season. The Raiders are not officially eliminated from playoff contention, but it would take a McDaniels miracle to make the tournament. Las Vegas’ reasoning behind the move seems to be forward-facing:
Derek Carr’s Benching Affects Aaron Rodgers?
I’m old enough to remember Aaron Rodgers’ retirement and trade rumors from this summer, all before the Packers extended him for three additional years and $150 million. Now that Green Bay has come face-to-face with the reality of their average roster in an improving division, they may reconsider that whole trade thing despite their desire to have him back for the 2023 season.
If the Packers win out and somehow find their way into the postseason and even manage to win a playoff game, the whole narrative will likely change. The season will be viewed as a remarkable turnaround with another Rodgers “run the table” coming to fruition while making an entree out of leftovers.
However, if the 12-3 Vikings come into Lambeau Field and pull off the upset –- yes, upset –- to effectively end the Packers’ season, they may end the Aaron Rodgers Era in Green Bay as well.
A loss would result in a lost season that began with such optimism coming off three-straight 13-win seasons under the tutelage of Matt LaFleur. Green Bay may surmise that competing for Super Bowls is more far-fetched than they had previously hoped after a season that suffered from an aging and battered David Bakhtiari –- the long-time anchor of their offensive line –- and inconsistency at WR.
With an opt-out of the Aaron Jones contract looming and Rodgers’ potential heir apparent waiting for his shot, Green Bay will need to ponder what a reasonable path forward is for their relationship with their Hall of Fame quarterback. If they mutually agree that parting ways is best for both parties, Las Vegas would have to be the first call.
Rodgers a Raider?
Las Vegas has already shown its hand and will be in the market for a new quarterback next season. Having recently acquired Adams to go along with Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, the Raiders likely won’t be interested in a project at quarterback and will want to go big-game hunting.
The Raiders plight presents the perfect opportunity for Green Bay to enter the conversation. Showing themselves to be desperate, Las Vegas may be more willing or obligated to take on a larger sum (or all) of Rodgers’ gaudy $50 million annual check, an amount otherwise seen as untradable.
Furthermore, such a move would reunite Adams and Rodgers, who had arguably the most lethal NFL connection before Adams’ departure. Such a move may at least in part appease Adams, who will be disheartened at a sudden exodus of his pal and quarterback, one of the main reasons he was willing to move on from Rodgers and Green Bay.
It may seem inconceivable, but Aaron Rodgers in Silver and Black in 2023 may not be that far-fetched. I’m not the only one thinking about it.
A Storybook Ending
In a season filled with magical moments, the Vikings may very well have a chance to bring the vision to life. Snuffing out their archrival’s campaign by completing a season sweep could only be made sweeter if it was accompanied by extinguishing an era of 31 years of Hall-of-Fame quarterback play that has tormented the Vikings and the rest of the NFC North.
You can almost hear it as the Vikings team bus rolls out of the Lambeau Field parking lot on Sunday evening around 8 pm: while Packer fans are nestled all snug in their beds thinking of what could have been, a booming voice that sounds like Za’Darius Smith rings out across the frozen tundra: “Happy New Year to all, and to all, a good night.”
Will is a husband, father of two, and earned an undergraduate degree in Economics (just like Kwesi Adofo-Mensah). Will’s favorite pastimes are water skiing, Minnesota sports, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. He is the co-host of the Load the Box Vikings Podcast with Jordan Hawthorn. Follow him on Twitter (@willbadlose) and find his other sports content at Twins Daily and his very own Bad Loser Blog.
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