Aaron Rodgers. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Life without Aaron Rodgers: The MVP double-edged sword

Monday was Aaron Rodgers‘ 30th birthday and it got my wheels turning a little bit. He was just recently awarded a lucrative contract extension; a sign of good things to come from this Packers/Rodgers relationship for at least the next five years. There is obvious upside but … is there a downside?

I can hear the criticisms rushing forward already, so please, hear me out …

I should probably preface by saying that Aaron Rodgers is a rare football specimen. He is the most talented quarterback in all of football; a fact not lost on media, analysts, opposing defenses or other fan bases.

I would never in a million years suggest that his “upside” was not enough to overshadow the downside that I am displaying here. I am merely pointing out that true MVP quarterbacks in this league are few and far between, and that those teams that boast them have lingering issues because of it.

You get THE MAN but lose THE DEFENSE

Look at the true elite guys in this league right now: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. Without these men under center, the team would absolutely fall to pieces. The Green Bay Packers are learning that right now.

Aaron Rodgers is the best money can buy, but the cost of keeping an MVP QB affects the rest of the team. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Aaron Rodgers is the best money can buy, but the cost of keeping an MVP QB affects the rest of the team.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Rodgers has been putting this team in a position to win for a long time now; we just didn’t know how much he really had a hand in until this year’s “clavicle debacle” that has nearly destroyed The team’s very promising season. Rodgers knows how to score and our high-flying offense has clearly been covering up for a very porous defense for far too long. When Rodgers and Co. put up 30-plus points and the team still only wins by a small margin, that is a big problem. I never thought anything of it before because the Packers were winning and that was all that mattered. But now that the team is  in a drought I have had time to re-evaluate. It’s a little ridiculous that the team needs to score that many points to win.

This defense should be playing LIGHTS OUT for Rodgers. He goes out there and makes sure this team puts points on the board. The defense should want to get the ball back for him, make defensive plays to give him more shots at the end zone. It’s almost like they say, “well, we don’t have to work as hard because we know Rodgers will cover up for our mistakes.” And it has been that way far too long.

You get THE MAN but lose THE CAP

You can acquire THE MAN without spending a fortune but try keeping him without doing so … it just doesn’t happen. I get it, it’s a business deal and Rodgers has earned every single penny of his new contract. I probably would have offered him more.

But greatness comes with the responsibility of making sure that man gets paid; and the cap space takes a hit. It is this hit that packs the bags of free agents each year. If you can’t afford to keep the talent, the player goes somewhere else. The Packers do a VERY good job of managing their cap space. The team has always been a draft and develop team (especially under Ted Thompson) and that provides great players at affordable prices. But when they become elite, they need big contracts, too. And the money doesn’t grow on trees.

With contracts to Rodgers and Clay Matthews locked up for six years, what of the likes of B.J Raji, Sam Shields and the 14 other free agents the Packers will be mulling over this offseason? Let’s be honest, most of them can hit the street. But there are a few that have the potential to be great signings. With less cap space to work with, more quality guys will hit the streets than we anticipated. It’s just the circle of NFL life.

You get THE MAN but lose the INSURANCE

The cost of keeping a player like Clay Matthews will also have an effect on whether the team re-signs B.J. Raji. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

The cost of keeping a player like Clay Matthews will also have an effect on whether the team re-signs B.J. Raji.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

When you have THE MAN, you have GOT to protect him. Well, that starts with the offensive line but it isn’t the insurance I am talking about. I’m referring to the backup QB position, which hasn’t been secure since Flynn left a couple of years ago to test the free agent waters. He was paid lucratively; something the Packers probably would not have done internally. They know his ins and out, his weaknesses; they knew he wasn’t worth the $12 million contact he received from the Seahawks.

But paying two quarterbacks is not an option, especially if you are housing an MVP, like Rodgers. The backup QB carousel has been spinning and spinning and spinning in Green Bay this year. If you can’t pay a quality backup, then which mediocre guy do you sign? We can see how well it has worked for the Packers.

The team’s only option is to draft a young guy and pay a minimum wage salary until he becomes too expensive; and then do it again.

But pouring your offense and schemes and time and effort into a young prospect and watching him walk out the door is not an enticing option. Especially when you have SERIOUS needs at other positions to fill in the draft.

Long story short, Rodgers is worth every cent he is paid and the Packers love him. Heck, I love him. I just know that without him, the Packers aren’t the Packers. It should be a little more balanced, we shouldn’t be hinging our every hope and dream on his success. It isn’t fair to him, the fans, the team or the organization.

The Packers need to take a long look at what this team looks like without their star quarterback and find ways to prepare for life without him.

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