How the Packers can be Super Bowl contenders: Three moves that could return Green Bay to prominence in 2020


Yes, there’s still much to be worked out if the NFL is to have its regular season start on time amid COVID-19 concerns, but the reopening of facilities around the league has already begun — including the one Aaron Rodgers calls home. While coaches and players wait for the green light to return, the offseason continues to roll along with an eye on training camp possibly beginning on time in July, but there are still questions the Green Bay Packers must answer if they’re to truly see themselves as contenders in a brutal NFC. They had a chance to achieve something special in 2019, if they were only able to avenge a regular season loss by upsetting the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in January, but they were instead roundly dismissed by the eventual conference champions.

With that loss came a reset of expectations after an impressive first year under new head coach Matt LaFleur, and many felt the team would readily address top roster needs to reposition themselves in the mix at the top of the league. Months later, the team is muddling through a questionable draft and reports of an upset Rodgers, putting them on unsettled ground as camp approaches.

There’s still time to address the still-present roster needs though and, in the process, the relationship with their future Hall of Fame quarterback, but they need to act as swiftly as is possible — moving to check off these three boxes in the next several weeks.

1. Roll the dice on Josh Gordon

There’s a very clear and rather cavernous void to be filled at wide receiver opposite Devante Adams, but the Packers opted to not select a single one in a draft that boasted arguably the deepest and most talented group in recent memory. That led to the ire of those who support the organization, but also quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who they miffed by not only forgoing on grabbing a much-needed WR complement — but by also spending the first-round pick on quarterback Jordan Love. Presumably, Love will have zero impact on the Packers season in 2020, but lack of a body to take the heat off of Adams certainly could, and in not-so-great fashion.

Enter Josh Gordon, one of the most talented and physically gifted wideouts the NFL has ever seen, but one who’s consistently seen his potential derailed by off-the-field struggles with addiction. Currently serving an indefinite suspension, Gordon has already made it clear he’ll apply for reinstatement on the heels of Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory doing so, and with Smith having been given the green light by commissioner Roger Goodell. The Seattle Seahawks are willing to welcome back Gordon, and other teams will also be in the mix to give him another shot, but the Packers need to be first in that line.

They have a solid stable of bodies outside of Adams, but none are physically on the same planet as Gordon.

A trio of Rodgers, Adams and Gordon — with Aaron Jones in the backfield — could be devastating to opposing defenses, assuming Gordon can remain on the field. At worst, take a minimal risk on a one-year deal that gives Green Bay the chance for a WR mulligan in the 2021 NFL Draft. Or, if Gordon works out, maybe they can discuss an extension. Rodgers sure wouldn’t mind the Packers giving this a shot — I promise you that. 

2. Trade for O.J. Howard

Yes, the Packers selected Josiah Deguara with in this year’s draft, but addressing the need at tight end with the 94th-overall pick shouldn’t exactly send shockwaves full of confidence up the spine of Rodgers and head coach Matt LaFleur. This isn’t to say Deguara might not ultimately be the long-term answer at the position, but the reality is he may need time to adapt to a crucial position at the NFL level, and Jimmy Graham wasn’t getting any younger. Graham was serviceable in 2019 with 447 receiving yards and three touchdowns, but it felt like Green Bay could benefit from adding youth at tight end. 

Howard is just that, and might do well with a fresh NFL start.

Although the Buccaneers are publicly stating they have no desire to trade the 25-year-old, all it takes is a phone call with the right offer to change their mind. After all, with the move to land Rob Gronkowski, Howard is immediately the odd man out, considering the presence of an also talented Cameron Brate — the latter having been signed recently to a big money extension that makes it difficult to part ways from him (not that they should want to anyway). Howard could immediately become the primary tight end target for Rodgers, who does so love big, athletic guys at the position. It would also give the club time to bring Deguara up to speed and potentially create quite the tandem between him and Howard in the future. 

That said, plan ahead and grab Howard, who’ll cost only $9.54 million in salary cap over the next two seasons — barring a pre-emptive contract extension.

3. Smooth the frayed nerves of Aaron Rodgers

The astute eye will notice how the first two points not only add much-needed weaponry for the Packers offense, but also go a long way in making good again the relationship between Rodgers and the front office. While it’s true the former Super Bowl MVP is saying all the right things publicly, fellow Packers legend Brett Favre — who Rodgers not-so-ironically replaced after being selected in a manner eerily similar to that of Love — has been very vocal in that Rodgers was upset by the team’s first-round decision in 2020, and isn’t adverse to taking his talents elsewhere before he hangs up his cleats for good. 

While those words are hearsay for now, anyone with half a brain knows the hyper-competitive Rodgers felt a way by the addition of Love, as opposed to upgrading needed positions that might both extend his career and help him push for a second Super Bowl title before it’s all said-and-done. Once upon a time, Favre was untouchable in Green Bay, but then came Rodgers. Now that Rodgers has taken the title as Wisconsin’s Teflon Don, if the Packers truly want to have him locked in mentally for 2020 (at the very least), moving on No. 1 and No. 2 on this list feels rather paramount.

The last thing the team wants to see if Rodgers walking the same path as a disgruntled Favre before him, which included being forced to watch him suit up for a division rival. Don’t think it’s possible? Well, no one did in 2009 either, and last I checked, the Chicago Bears still don’t have a definitive starting quarterback.

As blasphemous as that may seem, it’s not like we haven’t all seen this movie before.





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