Arizona Cardinals have to hope that Aaron Rodgers stays put
By Jim Koch
Just hours before the 2021 NFL Draft was set to begin, fans of the Arizona Cardinals heard some alarming news. Word around the league was that three-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers no longer wanted to play for the Green Bay Packers. Contract negotiations between the player and the organization had broken down, and Rodgers began telling teammates that he would not be coming back to Green Bay.
The scary part of that scenario for the Cards was that an NFC West rival of theirs was being mentioned as a prime trade destination for the sensational Rodgers. The San Francisco 49ers, who are basically just a signal-caller away from a sixth Super Bowl championship, are understandably interested in the nine-time Pro Bowler. Could Arizona seriously be expected to compete in a division that would feature dynamic passers like Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Matt Stafford for the next few seasons?
In all fairness, the Cardinals do possess a pretty talented quarterback of their own. Kyler Murray, fresh off of a Pro Bowl campaign for the Redbirds, appears to be a youngster on the rise. Nevertheless, the 23-year old’s life would be much easier if he didn’t have to outscore a 49ers offense with Rodgers at the controls two times a year.
If the Packers did decide to trade Rodgers, it would make much more sense to deal him to an American Football Conference team. Any club that has NFC championship aspirations would find that goal to be much more attainable if a Rodgers-led scoring attack wasn’t standing in the way. Still, when it comes down to it, Green Bay would be hard-pressed to turn down an offer from San Francisco for the 37-year old if it was the best one on the table.
The Cards, to their credit, have made a bunch of impressive acquisitions during the current offseason. General manager Steve Keim and his cohorts have put together the franchise’s best roster since 2015. It would be a shame if all that work by the Arizona front office turned out to be a waste, thanks to one significant offseason pickup by the 49ers.
As this article was being written, San Francisco used their third-overall selection on North Dakota State signal-caller Trey Lance. The 6’3, 221 pounder, having played in just 18 games during his college career, has project written all over him. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that the selection of Lance would dissuade the 49ers from pursuing Rodgers if the opportunity arises.
The best-case scenario for the Cardinals is that Rodgers remains with the Packers. Or, if he is dealt, let it be to a squad that is out of conference. The easiest road to a Vince Lombardi Trophy is what the Cards desire, so keeping Rodgers out of the division will make achieving that goal a whole lot easier.