The Packers were expected to be one of the best teams in the NFC entering the 2022 NFL season.
Instead, they have been an abject failure to date.
Green Bay is riding an NFL-worst five-game losing streak into its Week 10 matchup with the Cowboys. Aaron Rodgers will now have to face his former coach Mike McCarthy as the Packers look to avoid falling to 3-7 on the season.
Rodgers has had a rough go of it in 2022. Green Bay’s offense has struggled thanks to the departure of Davante Adams, the failure of the team’s young receiving corps to step up, and injury problems along the offensive line.
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Even still, Rodgers hasn’t played well this season. That has led many to wonder whether the Packers will consider benching him as their struggles continue. After all, they have Jordan Love backing him up, and they need to get a look at the former first-round pick eventually to see what they have, right?
While it would be nice for the Packers to get Love some action and assess his skill set, it won’t necessarily be easy to pull Rodgers from the Green Bay lineup.
Here is a breakdown of why that is and the most likely way that Rodgers could find himself holding the clipboard in 2022.
Will the Packers bench Aaron Rodgers for Jordan Love?
Though Rodgers has struggled at times during the 2022 NFL season, it remains highly unlikely that the team would bench him outright.
Why is that? Green Bay needs to preserve its relationship with Rodgers, as his contract is practically immovable in 2023.
Rodgers signed the three-year deal worth $50.3 million per year during the 2022 NFL offseason. That made him the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL, which made sense considering that he is coming off back-to-back MVP seasons.
To date, Rodgers hasn’t lived up to that deal; still, it is simply too massive for the Packers to move on from in 2023.
As it stands, trading or releasing Rodgers during the 2023 offseason would force the team to take an unpalatable dead cap hit of just under $99.8 million, per Spotrac.com. That means that Rodgers would be eating up nearly $100 million in cap space despite not being on the roster, so the Packers wouldn’t be able to effectively spend resources to improve the team.
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Technically, it is possible that the Packers wouldn’t have to pay this much. If they could find a trade partner that would be willing to pick up Rodgers’ $58.3 million option bonus, that could allow them to trade the quarterback without suffering as big a monetary loss.
However, finding a taker willing to pay that price seems unlikely, especially with the 38-year-old Rodgers having a rocky season. And even if the Packers did find a suitor, they likely wouldn’t get commensurate draft pick value in return for Rodgers.
So to recap, the Packers can’t really bench Rodgers without risking driving a wedge between him and the team. If the relationship between the two parties falls apart, the Packers would have to part with Rodgers, absorb the massive dead cap hit and settle for a mini-rebuild around Love with stripped-down resources.
That strategy is not an ideal one, so it may prove safer for the Packers to keep Rodgers entrenched as the starter, even in what is shaping up to be a lost season.
How the Packers can bench Aaron Rodgers for Jordan Love
Of course, it’s also possible that the Packers can find a way to bench Rodgers and get a look at what Love can do with this team. They would just have to do so by referencing an injury with which Rodgers has been dealing instead of the subpar performance of both him and the team.
Rodgers has been nursing a throwing thumb injury since Week 7. It is clearly impacting his performance, as he has repeatedly grabbed it and shaken it out after plays in recent weeks.
The veteran quarterback has admitted that his thumb hasn’t yet felt better since he first suffered the injury. He has to know that the injury has been impacting him, too, as the Packers are 0-4 since he suffered it and his numbers have declined significantly compared to the first five games of the season.
|Situation||Comp. %||Passing yards||Yards per attempt||Pass TDs||INTs||Rating|
|Five games before injury||67.9||231.4||6.9||1.6||0.6||95.8|
|Four games after injury||61.1||233.5||6.3||1.5||1.0||81.3|
Rodgers’ thumb injury is the perfect excuse for the Packers to bench their quarterback without causing a problem. They can place Rodgers on IR, let him get healthy for 2023 and give Love a chance to prove himself in however many games he gets as a starter.
Would Rodgers be on board with this? It’s unclear considering his competitive nature. That said, if the playoffs are out of the question — or at least well out of reach — the 38-year-old could at least consider shutting it down as he looks to get fully healthy.
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While the IR plan would probably be the easiest way to get Love some action, former Packers defensive back LeRoy Butler explained on CBS Sports’ Maggie and Perloff show that there might be another way to do it.
His strategy? Give Rodgers a few more games to start. If the Packers lose them all against the Cowboys, Titans and Eagles, then give Love a chance.
If you’ve lost those games, you’ve got to get Jordan Love in there at some point, because there’s no playoffs. I mean, there’s no playoffs, you’re not in the playoffs. You have to find out at some point can Jordan Love play because you can’t get rid of Aaron Rodgers because of his contract. But you can find a way to get Jordan Love some work to just kind of find out what you’re going to have in a few years.
The Packers would have to present this plan in the right way to Rodgers to get him to buy in. Perhaps they could convince him that Love could potentially become a trade asset if he performs well, and the Packers could use that to load up around Rodgers one more time.
Still, it’s hard to imagine Rodgers accepting a benching willingly. As such, expect to continue to see him starting for Green Bay — unless he is simply too banged up to keep playing.