Well, things just got a whole lot more interesting in Titletown. Let me rephrase that. Things just got a whole lot more terrifying in Titletown. When the Schef-bomb hit on Thursday afternoon, it suddenly put months of draft speculation on the back burner. Way, way back on the back burner.
Trying to read the tea leaves here: Rodgers has been pissed off since the Jordan Love pick. We all know this. The acknowledgement by Brian Gutekunst on Thursday night that he probably shouldn’t have blindsided Rodgers with the pick–maybe give him a quick heads up–was a mistake on his part. That was a monumental screw up that forever stained the relationship between Rodgers and the organization.
This is a guy who holds grudges. All the great ones do–it fuels them. From not being recruited out of high school, to the draft day slide to the surprising selection of his eventual replacement. Rodgers is driven by these slights, and it helped spur him to his third MVP trophy in 2020.
So where do we go from here? The Packers are saying exactly what they have to say. That they have no plans to trade him. That much of Thursday’s reporting was faulty: that Gutey never told Rodgers he was considering trading him this offseason; that he was not fielding calls from other teams.
Every move the team has made in the offseason has been about running it back with the same team in 2021. They’re all-in, with the understanding that there will have to be some tough cap decisions next year, with guys like Davante Adams and Jaire Alexander needing to get paid. And they wouldn’t have let Tim Boyle go if they thought there was a chance Rodgers’ time in Green Bay was done.
It’s been reported that Murphy, Gutey and LaFleur have all flown out to California to meet with Rodgers this spring. That leads me to think that this feels like a Thibs-Jimmy Butler situation. Maybe Rodgers told the team after the playoffs that he was out, to move him and let the Love era begin. And maybe the Packers brass didn’t think he was serious. But maybe he’s made up his mind and figures he can make things exceedingly difficult this summer and force the Packers’ hand.
We know the Packers have the leverage here and that barring a trade, Rodgers has two options: play in Green Bay or retire. I think Rodgers will play for the Packers in 2021. I think he timed this news to make things as uncomfortable as possible and to make a point. But I will not be shocked if Rodgers has played his last game in green and gold. If he’s dug in, I think he could call the Pack’s bluff. I’m pretty certain that nothing will happen before the summer. What a mess.
As for the Pack’s first round pick: I’m not at all surprised they took a CB. Once again, the Packers made a pick that will likely have a bigger impact in 2022 than in 2021. Eric Stokes has a chance to beat out Kevin King, or more likely, as soon as King gets hurt. Either way, he’ll be slates to take over for King in ’22.
His speed is off the charts (he ran a 4.25 40 at his pro day) and should be a special teams ace. We all know that teams are making a living ignoring Jaire Alexander’s side of the field and targeting King. Stokes has performed very well against the elite WRs he faced in the SEC and he sounds like a great human being off the field as well.
That makes nine defensive backs picked in the first two rounds since 2014. Most have been misses. This one can’t afford to be. If either King or Josh Jackson had hit, the Pack could have turned their attention to tackle or, heaven forbid, wide receiver in the first round. Now, you would assume the Pack will target those two positions on Friday night. We know they tried to move up in the second for a wide receiver last year. That strategy might be in play again tonight.