Rodgers moves the needle for Green Bay’s chances of contending more than anything else that could have changed for the team this offseason. And during the worst points in his protracted standoff with the front office, the odds on Green Bay to win the Super Bowl had slipped out to +3500, somewhere in the region of where the Pittsburgh Steelers currently stand.
As he proved last season, Rodgers is still a match for any quarterback in the game when he is at his best. After a sequence of underwhelming seasons by his standards, Rodgers posted the best overall PFF grade (94.5) of his career last year, leading the league in both that grade and big-time throw rate (7.7%).
AARON RODGERS: PFF passing statistics and rank among QBs in 2020 (regular season only, rank among QBs with 200-plus dropbacks
|PFF overall grade||94.5||1st of 36|
|PFF passing grade||94.3||1st of 36|
|Big-time throw rate||7.7%||1st of 36|
|Turnover-worthy play rate||2.0%||2nd of 36|
|Adjusted completion percentage||81.3%||1st of 36|
Rodgers reminded people why he was once described with the same terms Patrick Mahomes is today — a quarterback who does things the league has never seen before and one capable of pulling off the seemingly impossible.
Rodgers led the league in big-time throw rate and threw only five interceptions all season, all while boasting one of the lowest turnover-worthy play rates in the game. That sweet spot of being able to make a huge number of big throws without putting the ball in harm’s way has been one of his calling cards throughout his NFL career. It's what makes him one of the best ever to do it.
Keeping their quarterback in the building is huge for the Packers, who no longer need to hand the keys over to an unproven and unseen Jordan Love and have to hope that he is capable of steering the franchise to the same level of success.
It also likely improves their chances of keeping Davante Adams around. Adams, the league’s highest-graded receiver last season, is reportedly upset with the team over his contract negotiations, which have reportedly broken down due to how far apart the two sides are over money. While Adams had no incentive to stick around if Rodgers was no longer the quarterback, the veteran wideout knows that his ability to shine as the No. 1 receiving option will be at its highest now that the 2020 NFL MVP is back in the building.
In 2020, Adams led the NFL in yards per route run (2.96) and scored 18 touchdowns from 146 targets.
Now the only questions for the Green Bay Packers are whether they have done enough around Rodgers to get over the NFC Championship hurdle they keep falling at, and whether Rodgers himself can sustain the peak he hit last year.
When the team drafted Love to be the future at the position, it didn’t come entirely out of the blue. Rodgers hadn’t finished a season with an overall PFF grade above 90.0 since the 2016 season and was coming off one of the lowest-graded years of his career in 2019. Maybe all he needed was renewed motivation, but at 37 years old, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that a real decline is somewhere on the horizon.
An elite and motivated Aaron Rodgers keeps Green Bay’s place at the top of the elite NFL franchises, but if Rodgers slips from that standard this season, the team will have work to do to overcome the best teams in the league and reach that elusive Super Bowl.