As the Green Bay Packers head towards training camp, Aaron Rodgers’ future with the franchise remains up in the air. The three-time NFL MVP stayed away from OTAs and it’s still not clear whether he’ll show up for training camp on July 27. The Packers are trying to work things out with Rodgers and still say they will not trade him.
While there are some obvious implications of the Rodgers holdout, here are five ways this ongoing saga affects other Packers players and members of the organization:
- Davante Adams Contract Negotiations
After Rodgers, one of the biggest issues facing the Packers is the contract status of Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams. As of now, Adams’ contract expires after the 2021 season and he will be an unrestricted free agent.
Negotiations between the Packers and Adams’ agent on a new deal have been ongoing but no agreement on an extension has been reached.
Adams’ future in Green Bay may be connected to Rodgers’ future. The receiver and quarterback have a special connection on the field and have each other’s back off it. At OTAs, Adams told reporters, “I’ve got his back through everything. He knows at the end of the day, if there’s ever a wonder if he’s lost a teammate or something, because of all this that came out, he knows where I stand.”
If Rodgers holds out this season or is eventually traded, Adams may be more hesitant to re-sign with the Packers. Although he stands to earn between $20-25 million per year in his next contract according to many experts, he can get that money from the Packers or another team. If his friend and starting quarterback heads elsewhere, Adams may opt to play for another team after this season as well.
The Packers could also choose to trade Adams if they cannot reach an agreement with him on a new deal so they can get more in return than a compensatory pick.
- Jordan Love Could Be Pressed Into Service
Jordan Love may be called on to start this season if Rodgers holds out or is traded. It’s still not clear how ready the second-year Utah State alum is, but the Packers may not have a choice but to find out.
Love has benefitted from getting extra reps at OTAs and he will also get more work in training camp and in the preseason until Rodgers reports or a replacement is possibly acquired in a trade.
The Packers may have to turn to Love before they wanted to and they will have to deal with his likely struggles as he gains experience and learns the ropes of starting in the NFL.
- Matt LaFleur’s Play Calling Will Change
While Packers head coach Matt LaFleur says there’s “one plan” regardless of who plays quarterback, that is mostly a quote for public consumption. The reality is that the team’s play calling will not be the same if Love is under center.
Rodgers has played in the NFL since 2005 and been a starter since 2008. He has vast experience at reading defenses and knows how and when to change plays at the line of scrimmage.
While both Love and Rodgers have strong arms, play calling is likely to be a bit more conservative if Love is the starter and changing plays before the snap will be more difficult. If the Packers have an inexperienced quarterback under center, they are also more likely to run the football more and feature more short passes and checkdowns.
The offensive structure may be the same, but there will be key differences in the actual play calling and the way the offense is implemented.
- The Receiving Corps
The receivers will likely have different statistics if Love is the quarterback as opposed to Rodgers. Young quarterbacks tend to lock on to their top target. This means that Davante Adams will still likely get his share of catches but other receivers may have fewer targets.
Think back to Brett Favre’s first season as the Packers starter. Sterling Sharpe had more than 100 catches in 1992 while no other Packers wide receiver had more than 20. The average yards per attempt was a relatively low 6.9 and the offense was more conservative than it was later with Favre as quarterback.
In 2021, players like Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard and the rest of the Packers wide receivers will probably see their stat lines suffer because of Rodgers’ absence. Tight ends and running backs will likely see a smaller falloff.
There will almost certainly be more pressure on the Packers defense if Rodgers isn’t the starting quarterback in Week 1 and beyond. The Packers led the NFL in scoring in 2020 with Rodgers as the MVP. Without him, the team’s offensive production is likely to fall off and it could fall off by a substantial margin.
That means the defense will not be playing with a lead as frequently as they did last season and that there will be more pressure on the defensive unit to make stops and hold opponents off the board. Opposing offenses will be in fewer must pass situations and that may reduce the effectiveness of the Packers pass rush because they cannot focus exclusively on stopping the pass.
The Packers averaged nearly 32 points per game last season while the defense allowed slightly over 23-points per game. If the offense falls off to 27 points, the challenge for the defensive will be that much greater.
The ripple effect of Rodgers’ absence will be felt throughout the Packers roster if he is not the starting quarterback this season. Exactly how the team and coaching staff respond to that challenge may be one of the biggest keys to the Packers success in 2021.
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