One last round.
It looks like that will be what the 2021 season will be for the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
After a dramatic offseason in which Rodgers made it known he never wanted to play for the Packers again, the disgruntled quarterback folded his cards and showed up early in training camp.
Green Bay has made concessions, such as canceling the 2023 season on Rodgers’ contract and agreeing to potentially trade the triple MVP at the end of the 2021 campaign.
This means the Packers – who have lost in back-to-back NFC championship games – will line up with largely the same squad they had in 2020 and try another shot at a title.
Given that the 2022 Packers will be drastically different – and almost certainly won’t feature Rodgers – there’s a lot at stake in Green Bay this fall.
Linked on Forbes.com: The optimistic outlook for all 32 NFL teams
Additions and subtractions
Green Bay’s best addition is inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, who signed a one-year, $ 2 million contract in June and immediately landed an inside linebacker position.
The only other newcomers to the starting lineup are two rookie offensive linemen. Second-round pick Josh Myers will start at center, while fourth-round pick Royce Newman is expected to start at guard. Quick first-round cornerback Eric Stokes should also contribute immediately.
Green Bay’s biggest free agency loss came when center Corey Linsley signed a five-year, $ 62.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including $ 17 million fully guaranteed at signing. Linsley was arguably the best center in football last year, and Myers now has huge shoes to fill.
Others like running back Jamaal Williams (Detroit) and linebacker Christian Kirksey (Houston) started in free agency. But the Packers have players ready to enter these places.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw 48 touchdowns last season, just five interceptions and won his third career MVP award. Rodgers broke his own team record for touchdown passes and finished the year with a 121.5 quarterback, giving him the two best scores in league history.
Rodgers completed 70.7% of his passes – his highest score since becoming a starter in 2008. And his touchdown-to-interception ratio (9.6-to-1) was the second-best of his career (12.5 for 1 in 2018).
Green Bay running back duo Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are expected to form one of football’s best 1-2 punches.
Jones has back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and is tied for second in the NFL the past two seasons with 30 total TDs. Dillon had just 46 carries, but averaged 5.3 yards per carry as a rookie.
And Green Bay’s high school is as deep and talented as almost any other football player.
Jaire Alexander has become one of the best cornerbacks in football. Alexander had the best level of Pro Football Focus coverage among cornerbacks in 2020 and has played six games in which he kept his enemies 10 receiving yards or less.
Security Adrian Amos had a career year in 2020 and finished as PFF’s top security cover. Third-year safety Darnell Savage is on his way and has had four interceptions in his last six games.
Packers Pro Bowl left tackle David Bakhtiari will start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. This means left guard Elgton Jenkins is switching to left tackle and the Packers will start two rookies (Myers and Newman) inside their line.
The Packers fired defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, despite finishing ninth in total defense last year. It was Green Bay’s first defense in the top 10 since 2010. The Packers then hired Joe Barry, who flopped in Detroit in 2007-08 and Washington in 2015-16, leaving many wondering how Green Bay was. improved.
The Packers also finished 29e in the special team rankings compiled by Rick Gosselin and fired coordinator Shawn Mennenga. To the surprise of many, the Packers were then promoted from within, elevating assistant Maurice Drayton.
Green Bay dumped inconsistent punter JK Scott and traded for strong-legged Corey Bojorquez. The Packers were terrible kicking returns (31st) and punt (30e) last year, while allowing the NFL a worst 17.1 yards per punt return.
Aaron Rodgers Regular Season Interceptions: 6.5
Over -115, Under -115
This bet can be found on mybookie.ag.
Rodgers has only thrown 11 interceptions in the past three years, an average of 3.67 per year. He had two in 2018, four in 2019 and five last year.
Now in his third year with coach Matt LaFleur, Rodgers is in total control of the offense. He also threw interceptions on just 1.4% of his career passes.
Even with a 17e game this season, Rodgers is expected to stay under that number.
Bet: Minus, -115
The best case scenario
A lot of it comes down to Rodgers.
If he can put aside his differences with management and play near his 2020 MVP level, anything is possible for this team.
The running game is great, there are a lot of weapons in the passing game and the secondary could be the elite. If all goes well, Green Bay has the potential to reach its first Super Bowl in 11 years.
Worst case scenario
Rodgers has his eye on his 2022 home and is playing like he did in 2018-19, a mediocre pair of seasons by his standards.
The defense takes a step back under Barry, special teams remain a nightmare and the offensive line struggles.
If any or all of this happens, “The Last Dance” for Rodgers and those Packers will be a huge disappointment.