Aaron Rodgershas spent much of the 2022 season at less than full health owing to a broken thumb, and, more recently, a rib injury. That, coupled with the Packers’ slim playoff chances, has led to questions about how much longer he will be on the field in 2022.
The recently-turned 39-year-old was in the lineup today against the Bears, staying in line with his and Green Bay’s plans for the immediate future. Today’s contest served as a means to evaluate Rodgers’ status from a pain management standpoint, especially with the team’s bye looming in Week 14. Even in the likely event the Packers find themselves mathematically eliminated from the playoffs soon, though, Rodgers may still operate as the starter.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport writes that no decision has been made yet with respect to when (if at all) Rodgers will be shut down for the rest of the campaign. He adds that Rodgers will have a large say in upcoming discussions on the matter, with the possibility of turning the offense over to Jordan Lovelooming. The 2020 first-rounder has hardly seen the field in the NFL, and his Packers future has been the subject of plenty of speculation given Rodgers’ extension signed this summer.
That deal has since been understood as essentially a year-to-year accord, though, leaving the reigning MVP’s future in the air as well. Rapoport adds that if Rodgers is physically able to continue playing, it is “a good bet” he remains as the No. 1. Rodgers himself has admitted that things could change in the near future, however.
“I’d love to finish the season out,” he said recently on the subject of a potential QB swap, “but I understand this is a business and there’s a lot of us kind of older guys who play a decent amount, and they might want to see some younger guys play. Hopefully we don’t have to have that conversation, but if that conversation comes up, I’ll approach it with an open mind without any bitterness or resentment.”
Rodgers threw for 182 yards and one touchdown during a 28-19 win over Chicago, bringing the Packers’ record to 5-8. That may delay talk of a quarterback change temporarily, but, especially depending on his ability to heal over the course of the bye week, Rodgers’ remaining time this season could be limited.
The Packers announced on Friday that left tackle David Bakhtiariunderwent an appendectomy earlier today. As a result, he has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Bears.
The 31-year-old tweeted an encouraging update with respect to the procedure being a success. That will likely limit the length of his latest absence, but this news nevertheless marks another reason for Bakhtiari to be sidelined. His career has been greatly hampered by a 2020 ACL tear.
That injury cost him all but one game last season, and led to multiple operations aimed at returning him to full health. He and the team hoped for a Week 1 appearance in 2022, but his season debut ultimately had to wait until two weeks later. Even after he returned, the three-time Pro Bowler did so in a rotational capacity for two of his first three games, and followed an unusual practice schedule.
Overall, though, Bakhtiari has regained his elite form of previous years, earning a PFF grade of 82.1 so far this season. Pass protection in particular has, as usual, been a strongpoint for him individually, though the Packers have been mediocre through the air collectively. This will mark his second missed game since returning to action, leaving Green Bay with fourth-round rookie Zach Tomand starting right tackle Yosuah Nijmanamong the options to play on the blindside.
Regardless of who is blocking in that position on Sunday, the team’s signal-caller will be a familiar one. Aaron Rodgers was once again a limited participant in practice today, and he does not have an injury designation for Sunday’s contest. That clears the way for him to start, as both he and the team have expected to happen. He will be dealing with thumb and rib injuries when he takes on a Bears team which will welcome backJustin Fields, a passer who is himself coming back from a dislocated shoulder.
Last week’s Jets quarterback change may not be a long-term move, per Robert Saleh, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes the expectation is Mike White will keep his new gig against the Vikings and Bills over the next two weeks. White faring reasonably well against those upper-echelon teams could keep Zach Wilson out of the picture for a while.
The Jets have assembled a quality defense quicker than most expected. After ranking last in both total defense and scoring last season, the Jets are a top-five team in both categories in Saleh’s second season. Their defense sits fourth in DVOA, creating legitimate playoff aspirations for the first time since 2015. The Jets have a chance to snap the NFL’s longest playoff drought (11 seasons), leading Saleh to yank Wilson. That move is atypical for a player with Wilson’s draft pedigree and injects uncertainty into the Jets’ quarterback plans beyond 2022.
No quarterback selected in the top five has been benched for performance reasons before the end of his second season since the Bengals sat down 1999 No. 3 overall pick Akili Smith midway through the 2000 campaign. Wilson being shut down represents an obvious red flag about his future. Will the Jets be able to pivot back to last year’s No. 2 overall pick?
QBR places Wilson in 25th, actually two spots ahead of Aaron Rodgers, after the BYU product finished 30th in this metric as a rookie. Passer rating is far less kind; no starter checks in behind Wilson’s 72.6 mark there. Joe Flacco remains the Jets’ touchdown pass leader, with five, despite having exited after three starts to clear another path for Wilson. The Jets used a top-three pick on a quarterback twice in a four-year span, but while Sam Darnold was not holding a well-built defense back, Wilson was. Rumblings of teammates’ waning confidence in the fast-rising prospect surfacing this past offseason certainly open the door to the Jets needing to consider other options for 2023.
White torched a battered Bears secondary, doing so more than a year after he posted the first Jets’ 400-yard passing performance since Vinny Testaverde in 2000. The former Cowboys fifth-round pick has been with the Jets since 2019, initially landing a practice squad gig, and has enjoyed spurts of popularity over the past two seasons. The Jets demoted Flacco for the ex-Day 3 draftee earlier this season. White’s next two performances will help illustrate if the Jets can legitimately consider him for their 2023 starting gig. White, 27, will need to be re-signed next year. His putting together more quality starts will complicate that process for the Jets.
Saleh and OC Mike LaFleur‘s San Francisco ties create a natural path for Jimmy Garoppolo, whom the 49ers cannot retain via the franchise tag due to the sides’ August restructure. Then committed to Wilson, the Jets were not closely linked to Garoppolo during this year’s long-running (and ultimately fruitless) trade sweepstakes, but this could easily become a much-rumored landing spot for the ex-Patriots second-rounder. Will the 49ers, however, be so quick to move on and give the keys back to the largely untested Trey Lance?
A veteran deal would mean cutting into the advantage Wilson’s rookie contract creates, but if Wilson cannot do enough to stay on the field, the Jets need to regroup to capitalize on the defense they have built. The Broncos took this route in 2018, which would have been No. 26 overall pick Paxton Lynch‘s third season. Denver waived the first-round bust months after signing Case Keenum.
The Raiders have not lived up to expectations in Josh McDaniels‘ first season, and the second-chance HC — who is likely to return for another season — has a slim window to unload Derek Carr‘s three-year, $121.4MM contract. Three days after Super Bowl LVII, Carr is owed $40.5MM — his 2023 salary and $7.5MM of his 2024 base — creating an avenue for a trade. The Jets would need to act swiftly, and it would wall off a Garoppolo path a month before it could open. But Carr could be available ahead of his age-32 season, should McDaniels want a fresh start.
On the other end of the timing spectrum, Rodgers could conceivably be available next summer. While Rodgers trade speculation has ultimately provided endless content and no action, the Packers structured his record-setting $50.3MM-per-year contract to include a 2023 option bonus ($58.3MM) that can be paid out at any point from the start of the 2023 league year to the day before next season. It would cost the Packers only $15.8MM in dead money, per OverTheCap, to trade the contract after June 1. The Jets would be making a familiar move, trading for a future Hall of Fame Packers QB in his late 30s, but this scenario will undoubtedly be mentioned. Rodgers, who backtracked on his trade demand in 2021 and passed on leaving Green Bay this year, does not have a no-trade clause.
For the first time since 2016, they are not poised to have a top-12 pick. What other options would be available for Gang Green? The Seahawks are aiming to re-sign ex-JetGeno Smith, while Daniel Jones hopping New York teams seems unlikely as well. Gardner Minshew and brief Jet Teddy Bridgewater are also slated to hit the market. Tom Brady, as it should be at least noted, is also due for free agency. If the Lions land their QB prospect in the draft, Jared Goff stands to be available. As this year’s quarterback carousel showed, more options could be on the table.
Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this unusual situation in the comments section.
November 29th, 2022 at 12:55pm CST by Adam La Rose
12:55pm: When making his weekly appearance on The Pat McAfee Show today, Rodgers provided further detail on his injury, while adding that his scans yielded encouraging results (video link). As a result, he intends to play on Sunday against the Bears.
11:50am: Not much, if anything, has gone according to plan in 2022 for the Packers, and the team is now at something of a crossroads with respect to their quarterback situation. Aaron Rodgersis dealing with multiple injuries at the moment, leaving his availability for the immediate future in the air.
The 38-year-old exited Sunday night’s loss to the Eagles with a rib injury, and did not return. That, in turn, came not long after Rodgers publicly acknowledged that he had already been dealing with a broken thumb in his throwing hand for weeks – something he stated would not be sufficient to keep him from playing.
This latest ailment is one that the reigning MVP is likewise aiming to play through, so long as he can recover in time to suit up on Sunday against the Bears. Green Bay sits at 4-8 and therefore faces very long odds to reach the postseason, leading to questions about the fruitfulness of keeping Rodgers in the No. 1 spot at the expense of an extended run with backup Jordan Love. Head coach Matt LaFleur remains committed to the veteran at this point, however.
“Aaron’s the starting quarterback,” LaFleur said, via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. “He’s battled through a lot throughout the course of his career. It’s pretty well documented, and I think he’s been able to play at a pretty high level through a lot of different situations. So again, we’ll take it one game at a time and make the best decision moving forward.”
Love, drafted in the first round in 2020 to one day succeed Rodgers, has started just one game to date. His level of play in relief of Rodgers on Sunday was impressive, and has led to many calls for a QB swap as the Packers play out the remainder of the season. Looming over this situation from a big-picture perspective is the relative uncertainty surrounding Rodgers’ retirement plans, in spite of significant term and money remaining on his deal beyond 2022.
The Packers will have their bye week following the Bears game, something which could play a large role in determining their Week 13 starter. LaFleur (who, when speaking to the media, also doubled down on his support of maligned defensive coordinatorJoe Barry) acknowledged that testing on Rodgers’ injury was still somewhat inconclusive, but added that “he’s feeling a little bit better.” So long as he continues to recover, the matter of who will start under center moving forward will likely be resolved.
Already dealing with one notable injury, Aaron Rodgerswas even more banged up by the end of Green Bay’s loss to the Eagles Sunday night. Rodgers exited the game in the third quarter with a rib injury, and did not return.
The reigning MVP confirmed last week that he has been playing through a broken thumb in his throwing hand for much of the season, one in which his and the team’s performance have not been up to par. While he insisted that he would not miss time as a result of the injury, the idea of an IR stint to close out the season once the Packers fall out of contention has been brought up.
Rodgers was noticeably in pain leading up to his departure from the game, and was initially thought to have suffered an oblique injury. The 38-year-old said after the game, however, that he feared he had broken ribs; X-Rays were inconclusive in determining whether or not that was the case. As a result, he will undergo further testing today (video link via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network).
With Rodgers sidelined last night, Jordan Lovefilled in with his third appearance of the season and just the ninth of his career. The 2020 first-rounder went 6-for-9 passing with 113 yards and one touchdown in relief, potentially offering a small glimpse of what he could do in a showcase for the remainder of the regular season. Depending on the results of Rodgers’ tests, however, the latter intends to keep playing.
“As long as we’re mathematically alive, I’d like to be out there,” Rodgers said after the game. Green Bay sits at 4-8, leaving them with a very narrow path to an NFC Wild Card berth. That, coupled with his health status, could lead to calls for Love taking over to finish out the season – something which, if it were to take place, would invite serious speculation on Rodgers’ playing future given the presumed year-to-year nature of his sizeable extension signed this offseason.
As the Packers await further information on Rodgers regarding his health, the team will turn its attention to this Sunday’s contest against the Bears. Who will be under center for them for that game, and beyond, will remain a storyline worth watching in the coming days.
NOVEMBER 27: Rodgers’ official diagnosis is an avulsion fracture, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes. Such an injury occurs when extreme force causes a ligament to rip away from its attachment and takes bone with it. Surgery is almost always the solution to an avulsion fracture, but as noted below, Rodgers is not considering surgery at this point, preferring to wait until after the season is over.
However, Tyler Dunne of GoLongTD.com suggests that if the Packers should lose to the Eagles in Week 12 and fall to 4-8, the team could place Rodgers on IR for the remainder of the campaign (Twitter link). That would allow him to get the surgery he apparently needs sooner rather than later, and it would give 2020 first-rounder Jordan Love the first extended action of his pro career.
NOVEMBER 23: Aaron Rodgershas seen the Packers struggle considerably on offense this year, and has been dealing with a notable injury for much of the campaign. He confirmed on Wednesday that he has been playing with a broken right thumb since Week 5 (Twitter link via Matt Schneidman of The Athletic).
The reigning MVP suffered the injury on the final play of Green Bay’s loss to the Giants in London. He has since continued without giving thought to missing time to let the thumb heal. Rodgers also stated that surgery is not being considered at this time or even after the campaign is over. That contrasts with Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, who missed five games after having his right thumb surgically repaired.
Rodgers indicated that he has dealt with other, more severe finger injuries over the course of his college and NFL careers. Still, the fact that it is his throwing hand which is affected is noteworthy as he continues to guide a passing attack which has been unable to find a rhythm or consistency in 2022. The four-time All-Pro insisted, however, that the injury has not been responsible for a drop in performance.
Rodgers has seen a regression across the board statistically this year, particularly compared to his MVP-winning campaigns of the past two seasons. That has been a result of a number of factors, of course, from underwhelming offensive line play to the development of the team’s highly inexperienced receiving corps. The latter will reportedly play a significant role in determining when Rodgers, 39 next month, decides to retire.
Signed to another big-money deal this past offseason – essentially a three-year, $150MM accord – Rodgers is the first and only NFL player to average more than $50MM per season. That has opened him up to increased criticism as Green Bay drifts further away from playoff contention. In the immediate future, at least, he said the added time off by virtue of playing last Thursday has helped his thumb feel better. Whether it will be enough to allow Green Bay to pull off an upset in Philadelphia will remain to be seen until Sunday.
Despite being in the second half of the NFL season, teams are still actively cleaning up their books in anticipation of upcoming moves or future offseason transactions. We’ve compiled some of the notable financial moves below (plus an interesting note about a future Hall of Fame quarterback):
Jerome Baker, LB (Dolphins): restructured deal. According to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter), Baker restructured his contract and reduced his 2022 cap hit by about $2.5MM. This restructuring came on the heels of Miami’s notable trade deadline acquisitions, moves that required the front office to clear up a bit of cap. The 2018 third-round pick has turned into a consistent starter for the Dolphins. After collecting more than 300 tackles through his first three professional seasons, Baker inked a three-year, $39MM extension with the organization back in 2021.
Brian O’Neill, OT (Vikings): restructured deal. According to Yates (on Twitter), the Vikings converted $1.8MM of O’Neill’s base salary into a signing bonus, creating close to $1.5MM in cap space. Prior to the move, the Vikings were closing in on the cap, so this should provide them with a bit more wiggle room. In 2021, the former second-round pick signed a five-year, $92.5MM extension with the organization, and he ended up earning his first career Pro Bowl nod later that season.
William Jackson III, CB (Steelers): reworked deal. Following his trade to Pittsburgh, Jackson agreed to wipe out the remainder of his per-game roster bonuses, per Yates (on Twitter). Those bonuses were valued at around $44K per game. The cornerback is still due the remainder of his base salary, valued at around $2.7MM, and he helped saved the organization $350K against the cap. Jackson is still attached to a three-year, $40.5MM deal that he signed with Washington in 2021. He was traded to the Steelers at the deadline for a conditional 2025 sixth-round pick for a conditional 2025 seventh-round pick.
Aaron Rodgers, QB (Packers): contract details. It’s been a while since Aaron Rodgers inked his massive three-year, $150MM extension with Green Bay, but details are still trickling out about the contract. According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Rodgers’ $58.3MM option bonus in 2023 can be exercised at any time between the first day of the 2023 league year and the day before the Packers’ regular season opener. This is important timing if the Packers decide to trade their franchise quarterback this offseason. Demovsky also provides details on Rodgers’ contract in 2024. The $49.25MM in salary and bonuses is only guaranteed against injury, but it will become fully guaranteed on the fifth day following the previous season’s Super Bowl.
Indeed, as Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal writes, the development of rookie wideouts Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson will be instrumental in Rodgers’ decision-making process. Green Bay has not drafted a receiver in the first round since 2002, and that fact is frequently mentioned in reports discussing Rodgers’ sometimes strained relationship with the club. After the Packers traded Davante Adams this offseason — a trade made necessary when Adams, noting Rodgers’ uncertain future, declined to sign an extension with Green Bay — it stands to reason that the progress made by Rodgers’ young weapons will factor into his 2023 plans.
It appears that the Packers missed the mark when they selected Amari Rodgers in the third round of the 2021 draft. The Clemson product appeared in only 103 offensive snaps in his rookie year and has seen just four offensive snaps thus far in 2022. He is floundering at or near the bottom of Green Bay’s WR depth chart, and even his kick return duties may be in jeopardy. As of the time of this writing, the Packers are in the midst of their Week 5 contest against the Giants in London, and Watson has been handling kickoff returns (Amari Rodgers is still back deep for punts, but he has fumbled a punt return).
Doubs and Watson, though, offer more hope. Doubs, selected in the fourth round of this year’s draft, has been targeted 16 times over the past two games and has reeled in 13 catches for 120 yards and two TDs. Watson, a second-round pick, has not seen as much action, but Rodgers was effusive in his praise of both players.
“I think both guys can be ‘dudes,'” Rodgers said during his recent appearance on The Pat McAfee Show. “It’s going to be, how does their confidence progress? How many plays can they lock and anchor into their mind as places to go back to and think about when they’ve maybe had a stretch where they haven’t played their best ball or maybe they need some inspiration? … But I think they both have opportunities to be really, really good players in the league.”
If Doubs and Watson progress as Aaron Rodgers hopes, they could find themselves as the team’s top WR options in 2023. Indeed, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Sammy Watkins are all out of contract at season’s end, and Amari Rodgers’ hold on his roster spot seems tenuous at best. In a scenario where Doubs and Watson have proven themselves worthy, Aaron Rodgers may want to stick around for at least one more year to reap the rewards.
“Look, my decision, when it comes down to it, will be, obviously, the physical part, the mental part, seeing where the team is at,” Aaron Rodgers said. “There’s some moving pieces that’ll factor in, for sure. But seeing the development of [Doubs and Watson] can’t help but be a part of the decision.”
After a Week 1 dud against the Vikings, the Packers have won three in a row. Aaron Rodgers has completed 69% of his passes and has thrown six TDs against three interceptions.
The Packers have had a more eventful offseason than nearly every other team in the league. One of the results of their moves is a decided lack of proven commodities at the receiver position, something which sparked quarterback Aaron Rodgers‘ recent comments about the improvement which needs to be made amongst some of their new pass-catchers.
“The young guys, especially young receivers, we’ve got to be way more consistent,” the reigning MVP said, via PFF’s Doug Kyed. “A lot of drops, a lot of bad route decisions, running the wrong route. We’ve got to get better in that area.”
Per Kyed, Rodgers has stated they he wants Allen Lazardto operate as the “top option,” something which doesn’t come as much of a surprise given his NFL resume. Rodgers’ preference would be for Lazard to be joined as a starter by veterans Sammy Watkinsand Randall Cobb – a trio which would include, by far, the most experience available. However, rookies Romeo Doubs(who has seen first-team reps) and Christian Watson (whom the Packers traded up to select in the second round) could unseat Watkins and/or Cobb, leaving the team with more upside – but less certainty – at an important position as they look to contend for a Super Bowl.
Here are some more WR notes from around the league:
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked about the possibility of signing Antonio Brownyesterday. The former All-Pro hasn’t generated much interest since his colorful exit from the Buccaneers in the middle of a game last season, but would add experience to a banged-up Dallas receiver room. Instead, Jones replied “we want to give these young guys a real chance to make this team” (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). A number of inexperienced wideouts are competing for depth spots behind the likes of CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, James Washingtonand Jalen Tolbert, and will be allowed to continue doing so for the remainder of the preseason.
Kyed tweets that one of the surprise omissions from the Patriots’ depth chart, according to some, could be Nelson Agholor. However, he notes that cutting him would not be financially viable (doing so would incur a dead cap charge of $10MM), and adds that teams which could be interested in trading for him are not willing to do so at his current salary of $9MM. More to the point, the team’s new offense could allow the 29-year-old to enjoy a bounceback season from the underwhelming 37-473-3 statline he produced last year.
The Packers are hoping a pair of rookie wideouts will help replace the production of former receiver Davante Adams. Second-round pick Christian Watson and fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs will be expected to contribute during the 2022 campaign, and while the duo obviously doesn’t have the expertise of a veteran wideout, quarterback Aaron Rodgers understands GM Brian Gutekunst‘s decision to pivot toward youth.
“We’re still a draft-and-develop team,”Rodgers told SI.com’s Albert Breer. “I know we say that a lot; that’s most of the league, they’d like to be like that. There are less teams like the old Washington [teams] when they were trying to buy a team in free agency in many years. You’d like to draft guys and develop them and give them second contracts in-house. But there are needs and there are opportunities. I’ve always felt like adding one or two veteran guys at or around the minimum can really pay huge dividends in important spots.
“We’ve relied on young guys for much of my career. There are pros and cons to both those things. But I like Brian and his staff, and I think everybody in the building, myself included, has tried to focus on growing a little bit more and communicating a little bit more.”
Rodgers mentions a team’s need for cheap veterans, and Breer notes that the Packers are still open to adding another receiver. Once Watson returns to the practice field, Green Bay’s young duo will join Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, and Randall Cobb atop the depth chart.
During a recent podcast appearance, Rodgers admitted to using a psychedelic called ayahuasca. According to Peter King of Football Morning in America, the NFL won’t be retroactively punishing Rodgers for use of the plant, especially since he didn’t test positive for a banned substance. Both the league and the NFLPA confirmed to PFT’s Mike Florio that ayahuasca is “neither a prohibited compound under the substance-abuse policy nor a PED.” As Florio notes, there is some precedent for the NFL going after a player who admits to using “a given substance,” with the league previously attempting to put Randy Moss in a drug-test program after he admitted to smoking marijuana “every blue moon.”
Some good news on the injury front for the Packers. Gutekunst told reporters that he’s hopeful offensive linemen David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins will both return from their respective injuries early on during the 2022 campaign. “They are both doing really, really well. I think they both have a shot to play early in the season,” Gutekunst said (h/t to Zach Kruse of PackersWire). “They are progressing very well.” Bakhtiari tore his ACL in December of 2020, and he was active for only one January contest during the 2021 campaign. Jenkins tore his ACL during Week 11 of the 2021 season. Both offensive linemen were placed on PUP to begin training camp, and there’s probably little chance we see them during the preseason.