You’ve heard it, Raider Nation; Aaron Rodgers and the Las Vegas Raiders – a story that’s been touched on in some way by most journalists at this point.
After nine seasons, the Silver and Black have elected to move on from quarterback Derek Carr. Tom Brady was once considered the “first choice” – although All-Pro running back Josh Jacobs would later disagree – but the future Hall of Fame signal caller has since decided to walk away from professional football.
These days, Aaron Rodgers is the unanimous front-runner for QB1 in Las Vegas.
Back when Brady was still around and considered the “top choice” for the Raiders at quarterback this offseason, I brushed off the smoke and boldly declared that more signs pointed to Rodgers than TB12.
The first sign was on The Pat McAfee Show in mid-January, where Rodgers was featured on a Tuesday episode as he normally is. In this particular episode, the [soon-to-be dethroned] reigning back-to-back MVP stated he feels he can win MVP again in the “right situation”.
Soon after, Rodgers went on to talk about how he wishes to end his career by playing with guys he can count on – players he has a relationship with; players he can win with.
There’s one player in particular who put Rodgers in the “right situation” to win back-to-back MVP awards and has a strong relationship with the 39-year-old quarterback; not to mention the three 13-win seasons in a row prior to his departure with the Packers: Davante Adams.
When you add Hunter Renfrow, whose game mimics that of Jordy Nelson – Rodgers’ favorite weapon throughout his career – and the NFL’s leading rusher in 2022, Josh Jacobs, you truly do get the “right situation”.
That’s just Rodgers’ side of it, though. How about the Raiders’ side?
Aaron Rodgers always seemed likely through the eyes of the Las Vegas Raiders.
From the start, it seemed all but certain the Raiders would roll with a veteran at the quarterback position moving forward.
We know this based on Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler being “all-in” on Derek Carr originally, per multiple reports. As the season went on, the pair’s confidence in their QB faded, with Carr ultimately being inactive during the last two games of the season.
For the team to move on from someone they were once “all-in” on, this can only mean one thing: the duo was certain there was a better signal caller available this summer. As Raider Nation knows as well as any fan base across the NFL, a draft pick is anything but a guaranteed hit. A veteran, however, is a sure thing.
That’s the reason both Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo took off as the top-two candidates for the job, per the media. Was the 46-year-old ever really in the plans, though? According to Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs, he knew the team’s top-three choices all along, and felt Brady was but a contingency plan.
For multiple reasons, Jacobs’ statement makes sense; from a report when Brady and the Patriots split in 2020, to what one NFL executive had heard in early January.
There’s no bad blood between McDaniels and Brady; let’s get that out of the way right now. The two are high-class professionals who have the utmost respect for each other. But, having respect for an individual and working seamlessly with that same individual are two different things entirely with no real correlation.
Was Tom Brady really McDaniels’ dream quarterback?
Throughout the many years of McDaniels and Brady working together, they were often seen bickering on the sideline.
It’s not unnatural for a quarterback and his play-caller to get into an argument or two, but long-time NFL journalist Gary Myers, who’s worked with many prominent outlets over his illustrious career, believes the constant bickering was one of the reasons Brady opted to leave New England.
“One thing has been very much overlooked, according to an excellent source: His deteriorating relationship with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Tom was worn out by Josh after all these years. That surprised me,” Myers said a few years back when discussing Brady’s departure from the Patriots.
In Early January of 2023, when the search for a quarterback was alive and well, one former NFL executive who worked with the Raiders touched on the Brady rumors in a conversation with OutKick’s Jason Cole.
In his statement, the unnamed executive mentioned Mark Davis’s desire to go get a player of Tom Brady’s stature in hopes to keep the crowd at Allegiant stadium mostly fans of the home team. Per the executive, Davis was embarrassed on multiple occasions when it came to [lack of] Raider fans in attendance each week.
He wanted that to change, and Tom Brady was the answer in his eyes.
This goes back to when Jon Gruden was coaching the Raiders, and Davis preferred Gruden to replace Carr with Brady. Gruden wasn’t against it in the beginning, but as he spent more time with Carr, he began favoring the Fresno State alum.
According to this executive, he hears McDaniels “wasn’t so sure” on the idea of Brady being the answer.
All things considered; it would seem the odds of TB12 being the next Raiders’ quarterback were never too high. Was Rodgers the top choice all along?
Players endorse Aaron Rodgers to the Raiders.
At this point, multiple key players on the Raiders’ roster have been all-in on Aaron Rodgers.
While Davante Adams wanted to stick it out with Carr, he hasn’t shied away from endorsing Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback (again) with Carr now moving on from the team.
And why wouldn’t Adams want to reunite with Rodgers? After all, ‘Tae averaged about 100 yards and a touchdown per game over his last two years in Green Bay.
There have been multiple times since the start of 2023 where Adams has endorsed this, from liking tweets about the Raiders trading for Rodgers, to a not-so-cryptic tweet on Thursday morning about who Adams wants as his next quarterback.
Through it all, Adams has done everything but blatantly say he wants Aaron Rodgers throwing to him – until Sunday, directly after the Pro Bowl when speaking to members of the Las Vegas Review Journal.
As soon as Rodgers’ name was mentioned, Adams began smiling. “Would I be interested in having Aaron Rodgers throw to me? Uh, yes; I would love that,” Adams replied to a question about his thoughts on the situation. “Obviously that’d be a dream scenario,” he added.
“A million percent – 100%; that’s exactly what I’m trying to portray,” Adams said when asked if he’d advocate for the Raiders acquiring Rodgers.
This is especially important as it’s been noted ‘Tae’s thoughts on who the team’s next signal caller should be, will be taken to heart.
Then, there’s All-Pro running back Josh Jacobs. When I asked Jacobs how he felt about a possible Aaron Rodgers trade on Saturday, he smiled wide before raving about the Packers’ quarterback, concluding that he believes it would be a “nice move” (full report on Jacobs’ thoughts here).
Everything you need to know about Aaron Rodgers’ contract.
On the surface, Rodgers’ contract is very unpleasant to the eye, with his cap hit reaching an unreal $59 million in 2025. Fear not, Raider Nation; Rodgers’s contract is surprisingly very team-friendly should he be traded.
While Rodgers’ cap hit in ’24, ’25 and ’26 shoots up to $40 million and beyond, it’s important to note these three years are all player options specifically tailored to if he plays for the Packers. This means, if he is in fact traded, they are all automatically void with only the 2023 portion being carried over.
Luckily, Rodgers’ cap hit in 2023 is just $31.6 million; $3 million less than Derek Carr’s would-be cap hit in 2023. Still, he would be due $59 million in total despite only $31 million being counted against the cap, and this is something the team will take into account. Derek Carr was due only $33 million total this upcoming season.
Even still, Rodgers is open to reworking his contract. He’s fully aware his contract isn’t ideal for most – if not all – teams across the NFL and understands his contract might need adjustments. Expect a reworked contract if he’s traded to the Raiders.
Mapping out Rodgers’ trade value
Pinpointing Rodgers’ exact trade value is hard. In reality, it will likely be largely decided by the contract he agrees to with his new team.
Since there’s only one year on Rodgers’ contract in the event of a trade, we can expect a deal for him to include an extension; the equivalent of a sign-and-trade. Depending on what the agreement is moving forward, the value will adjust accordingly.
In the meantime, we can compare the value of other veteran quarterbacks.
Rodgers is 39 years old. It’s true he’s the current back-to-back MVP as it stands, but we’re not talking about a young gun entering his prime.
At the age of 36, former MVP Matt Ryan was traded for a third-rounder. Rodgers is the superior quarterback, this is true, but he’s also three years older than Ryan was.
At 33, Russell Wilson was traded for two first-rounders, a few players and a large contract. With how the trade turned out, in massive favor of Seattle, we can conclude this was a learning experience for teams league-wide.
Wilson was also an entire six years younger; Rodgers wouldn’t fetch such a haul regardless.
Finally, there’s the fact the ball is in Rodgers’ court, should he ask for a trade. Packers’ general manager Brian Gutekunst has already stated he’d work with Rodgers should he want to be traded, noting if the 39-year-old is ready to move on, Green Bay is ready to begin the Jordan Love-era.
Combine these things, and it feels as if a second-rounder with a later pick in the upcoming draft is the likely value here. A first-round pick certainly isn’t impossible, but it does feel like a stretch given everything we know.
For a player of Rodgers’ caliber, though, anything is in the realm of realism.
*Top Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images