Aaron Rodgers’ Decision Means Everything to Vikings

Photo: Harrison Barden - USA TODAY Sports

News inside the NFL has slowed recently, as the league takes a short breath before the draft combine begins on March 1. But the offseason hot stove isn’t just waiting on prospects, media members and league executives to converge on Indianapolis next week.

It’s also waiting for Aaron Rodgers to make a decision on whether he wants to remain in Green Bay to play quarterback for the Packers or if he will request a trade and turn the NFL offseason on its head. Well, Dianna Russini (ESPN) reported earlier in the day that the wait on Rodgers won’t last much longer.

Normally, I wouldn’t care about how Aaron Rodgers was spending his offseason or what the Packers plans were with most of their spring chess pieces. This situation, however, is far from “normal” and Rodgers’ decision has far reaching consequences across the league, but especially for the Minnesota Vikings.

Future of NFC North

Let’s start with what Rodgers’ decision means for the NFC North division, which becomes WIDE OPEN if he gets traded away from Green Bay. Should that actually happen, the North quickly becomes the worst division in the NFL, slotted right behind the NFC East. That is, unless, the Vikings decide to bulk up.

In fact, the Vikings might be waiting on this Rodgers vs Packers standoff to run its course before fully committing to their own offseason strategy. Because, if he leaves the division, Kirk Cousins EASILY becomes the best quarterback of the four teams and the Vikings’ path to the playoffs parts like the Red Sea did for Moses on his way to the promised land.

  • Kirk Cousins – MIN – 88.2 PFF Grade
  • Justin Fields – CHI – 64.2 PFF
  • Jordan Love – GB – 36.2 PFF (2 GMS)
  • Jared Goff – DET – 60.7 PFF

The new Minnesota Vikings regime and the Wilf family have made it very clear that they plan to play out 2022 season with Kirk Cousins as their quarterback. If Rodgers indeed moves out of the North, we could see them move their first offseason chess pieces in that exact direction. That would mean working out some sort of deal with Cousins to lesser his cap hit and tapping on other veterans in hopes of freeing up cap space bulking up the roster for a playoff run in 2022-23.

Rodgers Commits to Packers

On the other hand, an Aaron Rodgers return to Green Bay could trigger an entirely different offseason reaction for the Vikings. At that point, the climb to division relevance looks much steeper and cap restrictions feel even tighter. Like it or not, Rodgers is one of the best three regular season QB’s in NFL history.

And he’s only gotten better of late, leading the Packers to 13 wins in each of the last three seasons. A belief that the Vikings, as currently constructed and restricted for the 2022 season, can reach such a win total next season would pure and utter delusion.

There are two wildcard positions in each conference and reaching the postseason is a 50/50 proposition for all teams but the high unlikelihood of winning the NFC North should absolutely factor into the Vikings decisions over the next few months.

Kirk’s Value on the Open Market

There is a lot of debate on how much quarterback hungry teams across the NFL would pay to pry Kirk Cousins away from the Minnesota Vikings but I can promise that his stock would only rise if Rodgers decides to stay put in Green Bay.

Teams like the Browns, Broncos, Colts, Raiders, Panthers and Eagles are all reportedly ready to shove all of their future draft chips onto the Packers to scoop up Aaron Rodgers in return. But if #12 never hits the trade market, what are they to do with all of those chips and intense QB ambitions?

They’re going to look elsewhere and their eyes won’t travel very far down the list of possibly available quarterbacks before they run into Kirk Cousins. While the offers for Kirk will pale in comparison to what the Packers will have on the table for Rodgers, increased desperation will undoubtably act as an escalator. And if the Vikings get other teams bidding against each other for Cousins’ services, they could indeed end up with an offer that’s just too good for them to pass up.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan