Scripting Aaron's Last Dance

The decision to draft Jordan Love has the Packers preparing for the final 2-3 years of Aaron Rodgers career with the Packers.  The team/organization has to find the right balance of developing their heir apparent while still competing for another title to bring home to the Title Town district.  *(If that isn’t the goal then they should just trade Aaron after this season (training camp 2021) and give Love 3 years of reps before extending him or picking up his option.)

The Packers however, look to have successfully rolled the dice on their 5-year plan to compete for a championship while simultaneously rebuilding for the future.  In year 1, the Packers hit on all of their free agent signings, saw young players develop, and watched Aaron Jones turn into a superstar. Year 2 of their plan is still quite a bit of a mystery as they have tried to replace Brian Bulaga, keep salary cap flexibility, draft key role players at positions of need, and draft the quarterback of the future. 

Trying to win now and build for the future simultaneously requires an immense focus on the pulse of the organization as well as the salary cap so that they can have the chance to win it all before the rebuild takes full effect.

In my estimation, the Packers have a 2-3-year window in which they can win it all.  In order to maximize this window, here are a few moves the team can make that will give Aaron Rodgers a chance at a Super Bowl winning signature moment during his “Last Dance”. 

  1.  Move on from, or restructure one of the veteran lineman (most likely would be Linsley) during training camp to free up the necessary space to add an impact player who was a surprise cut/salary cap casualty.
  2.  Bring in an economical free agent who fits the offensive or defensive system(s) perfectly.
  3. Resign Kevin King during the season to a team friendly extension *(if he’s healthy and playing well).
  4. Extend Chandon Sullivan (and/or) Raven Greene to “very team friendly” deals in the offseason (if they are healthy, and carve out a role for themselves)
  5.  Extend Kenny Clark during training camp by adding his 2020 salary (almost $7.7 million) to a 5-year extension.  Russ Ball’s wizardry, with moving bonus money around could give Clark a reasonable 2021 cap number in the ($8-10 million range). 
  6. Extend the Smith Brothers Early: Repeat this same process (if the Smiths’ are healthy and productive in 2020) with the Smith brothers during the 2021 offseason on a 4-year extension, or convert some 2021 salary into bonus money to lessen their 2021 cap number of $20.75 million and $16 million respectively.
  7. Resign David Bakhtiari to a 5-year extension and move bonus money around to control his 2021 cap number.
  8. Sign two young free agents who are on the precipice of entering their prime and use the extra $5-7 million cap cushion to make any training camp/in-season moves necessary to win a Super Bowl.

In all likelihood, this model would give the Packers a 2-3-year window to win it all before making the decision to trade multiple key members of their core to provide salary cap flexibility and draft picks for the rebuild/retool that will take place during Jordan Love’s first year under center.  

This is a very aggressive and very controversial plan Packers fans; as always, let me know what you think in the comments section. (How would you approach the next 3 years?)

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David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

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Comments (23)

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stockholder's picture

July 12, 2020 at 06:52 am

Trade Arron for what? . More bad decisions when it comes to drafting. Sherman didn't know what he was doing, and neither does Gutey. I remember how Scott Hunter was suppose to be the next Bart Starr. Gutey is following that same course. Refusing to sign players with a NFL career in front of them is ridiculous. The list goes on; Best example is what happened when TT didn't sign them. Your plan works if they Dump Rodgers Salary. But I don't believe Love will be anything more than Scott Hunter. Big BS has come to the packers. Gutey blew his brains out when he traded for Kizer. And it went to his head when the Smiths exceeded everyone expectations. For the next three years you Keep Rodgers. I'll take Clark, King, and Bahk, before Linsley. It's time to Re-work Adams salary so Jones can stay in GB! Trust what you see, and not what you can't!

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Oppy's picture

July 12, 2020 at 10:28 am

I wouldn't think of it as Gutey "trading for Kizer".

I'd think of it more like the Packers having an internal problem with Damarius Randall that they felt they needed to move on from (veteran players in the locker room actually requesting Randall be cut from the team), and instead of out-right cutting him and getting nothing, they found a way to end that relationship while still getting something in return, in the form of Kizer, a QB who apparently either McCarthy or Gutekunst (or someone else in the scouting department) thought had promise. (Whoops).

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dobber's picture

July 12, 2020 at 10:52 am

Absolutely: dealt a guy with virtually no value to the Packers (since it sounds like he was headed for the waiver wire) for a player that had some value to the Packers. They actually got a bump up in draft picks, too. So I think they came out ahead.

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stockholder's picture

July 12, 2020 at 12:51 pm

I think both you and oppy are wrong. Rollins never developed. Ha Ha regressed. And Josh Jones sucked! Randall knew it being a safety. Behind closed doors, I believe he wanted out after they criticized him instead. If he was a problem. He would have been a problem for the Browns. Randall was the first safety taken in the draft. TT didn't want to pay Hayward. And now Ha Ha is bouncing around. Pettine likes to move his secondary around. Randall was smart to get out. The swapped picks also showed Randalls worth. Forget the cancer. Pettine now has guys that know how to cover each others butt. Something Randalls teammates didn't know how to do. Look at what it Cost the packers to move on from Randall. More picks, not to mention 1s and 3s used!! And the leadership of Amos and Tramon Williams, which Randall never had.

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Oppy's picture

July 12, 2020 at 02:38 pm

Rob Demovsky, Zack Kruse, and others all have reported that a committee of veteran players (both offense and defense) approached MM during the middle of the season and suggested that Randall be released from the team because he was such a problem in the locker room. The Packers did not release him at that point. Randall actually played much better after his one game benching. Then he sat out the last few games due to an injury that some in the training room believed he should have been able to play through, and then after the season Randall ran his mouth about Capers defense. The Packers had enough and decided to scrap him.

What it cost to move on from Randall? The packers didn't lose any picks in the trade. In fact, they moved up in the draft by trading Randall. They swapped their 114th and 150th picks for Cleveland's 101st and 138th picks.

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stockholder's picture

July 12, 2020 at 03:29 pm

yes. He wanted out. But they held firm. Unlike Monty.

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dobber's picture

July 12, 2020 at 06:30 pm

"I think both you and oppy are wrong."

I knew my wife would eventually get a CHTV account...

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Oppy's picture

July 12, 2020 at 08:58 pm

Hey now, what's Mrs. Dobber got against me?!

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dobber's picture

July 12, 2020 at 09:05 pm

Winner!

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Lphill's picture

July 12, 2020 at 07:42 am

I agree with most but I think Runyan is here to replace Bakhteri and I would be careful overpaying King.

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dobber's picture

July 12, 2020 at 06:33 pm

It would be a tremendous break for the Packers if Runyan turned out to be a quality LT, but virtually every scout says his best NFL position is guard.

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Guam's picture

July 12, 2020 at 07:56 am

There are two huge assumptions in this article. (1) That Jordan Love will eventually be the replacement for Rodgers and (2) That Russ Ball can "move around" enough money to accommodate both Clarke and Bakhtiari in 2021.

Regarding #1, I would wait 1-2 two years before passing judgement on Love. Over the last ten years only about 40% of the QBs drafted in the first round even sign a second contract with the team that drafted them much less replace a HOF QB before the end of his career. I understand Gute taking a shot on Love, but it is premature to anoint Love as the successor. Let's see how he develops.

Regarding #2, nothing I have seen from TGR or others would indicate there is enough room to sign both Clarke and Bakh to extensions unless there are draconian cuts elsewhere. I believe it is far more likely that Bakh is not given a third contract which is much more consistent with Packer history (I can't remember the last offensive lineman that got a third contract in Green Bay). Not happy about that, but history and the salary cap both point in the direction of Bakh playing elsewhere in 2021. He is the draconian cut that allows the Packers to sign their young players to second contracts.

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PatrickGB's picture

July 12, 2020 at 09:21 am

Guam, I agree. Let’s first see how Love performs before any long term decision is made. I know that the scouting staff is high on him but let’s see how he actually plays in an NFL game against starters. I think that the cap might actually go down so I have my doubts about keeping both Clark and Bakhtiari.

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Guam's picture

July 12, 2020 at 11:40 am

NFL revenue is going to take a big hit this year (no fans in the stadiums and maybe no football at all), so I have to believe the NFL and NFLPA will negotiate some kind of averaging of the cap for several years to avoid a large one year decrease which benefits no one. However that would also mean the cap isn't going up for several years even if revenue recovers (i.e. no room to push contracts out).

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BradHTX's picture

July 12, 2020 at 09:12 pm

“I can't remember the last offensive lineman that got a third contract in Green Bay”

Both Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher received third contracts.

The Packers’ brass is willing to offer OTs third contracts if warranted, it’s only Guards that they aren’t willing to pay after 30. Considering his general good health and skill level, I expect Bakhtiari is absolutely a candidate for a third contract.

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dobber's picture

July 12, 2020 at 09:26 am

There's a lot of pushing cap hits down the road here. Given we have no idea what havoc COVID is going to wreak with the regular season (if there is one) and the salary cap in 2021 and beyond, this seems really hard to project or encourage.

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Qoojo's picture

July 12, 2020 at 10:21 am

I think people are reading too much into the Love selection. Sure the packers like him, but I think it's more about contingency should there be little valuable college football played this year, which means that draft picks selected in 2021 could be largely based on 2019 performance and potential. I think the Love selection is about mitigating that risk, and picking someone they like, that will hopefully be prepared to play competently in 2022.

Kevin King getting another contract will be based on his performance and value in the upcoming season. Does he stay injury free? You don't let good corners leave. This could mirror Hayward's path where the packers guessed wrong on an oft-injured player.

Aaron Jones is probably going to cost way too much to keep.

Clark is a must.

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Leatherhead's picture

July 12, 2020 at 05:42 pm

I think you put the cart before the horse in your opening statement . We drafted Love because we’re preparing for 2-3 years down the road . And rather than tying up money, I think we’re hoping to have a ton of money to spend to spend and sign some guys so we can win while Love is on his rookie deal..

Quite frankly, given all the uncertainty about the season, I’d be surprised if we committed big money to a guy for four years. We have a good team this year, certainly good enough to win the division and a year from now we’ll have more answers about Love.

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flackcatcher's picture

July 12, 2020 at 05:43 pm

Yeah, a little too much wishing here by Mike. As others have mentioned here, the big unknown is if there is going to be a season this year. Giving what's happening between the owners and players, that is looking more doubtful at the moment. No season. No Cap increase, it's that simple. What does that mean. It means every veteran whose contract is entering his final year or expiring will be cut. Teams, not just the Packers will have no choice, Cap numbers do not lie. Now if both sides show some sanity and negotiate the Cap, then maybe, just maybe we won't have to watch the wholesale wipe out of NFL rosters. Ironically, Conrona-19 has giving both the owners and players a chance to settle many of the long standing issues between them from the last contract negotiation if they'll take it. I am not optimistic....

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Stroh's picture

July 12, 2020 at 05:49 pm

Rodgers end career script has already been played out by Elway. He bought in to Shanahan and his system and got 2 SB for doing so. Question is will Rodgers buy in to LaFleur and the same system to give himself a chance for something similar or wiil he prevent it by not having the buy in Elway showed.

A lage part of that can happen if Rodgers goes back to his previous footwork and pocket passing he displayed in winning his SB. If he continues to play off script, it'll never happen.

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rodgersrules's picture

July 12, 2020 at 10:01 pm

The gorilla in the room, to me, is this. What happens when its obvious that Love isn't beating out Rodgers on actual performance anytime soon? Living where I do, I saw Love play in person in 2018. Yes,
it was only one game and maybe it was the worst game of his life. But he was just horrid, there's no other way to put it, against a real bad Mountain West team in Laramie. 12 of 28 with a pick and multiple other balls that should have been picked. So, I have no faith whatever that this wasn't a catastrophic draft. But, thats just me.

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Leatherhead's picture

July 13, 2020 at 08:38 am

People had the same concern about Rodgers taking over for Favre.

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crayzpackfan's picture

July 13, 2020 at 12:11 pm

“Big Ben” threw 5 picks in one game against Iowa his senior year, as long we’re cherry picking here.

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