ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — So who wanted that spoiled, complicated fella, anyway?
Besides, you know, just about everybody in Broncos Country.
It appears Aaron Rodgers’ “beautiful mystery” and offseason of drama will reach a rather uninspiring conclusion as first Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network and then ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the quarterback will return to play for the Green Bay Packers in 2021.
All that fuss, and for what? Nothing, far as Broncos fans are concerned.
Apparently, there will be an agreement between the Packers and Rodgers where the 37-year-old quarterback can leave after the 2021 season. Great. There is nothing Brooklyn Dodgers about the NFL: There is no wait till next year.
According to multiple league sources that 9NEWS spoke to since April, the Broncos would have been interested in acquiring Rodgers providing the superstar quarterback managed to shake himself free from the Packers. Rodgers from the press conference after his Packers lost the NFC Championship Game to Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Bucs in late-January let it be known, through coy expressions that became increasingly maddening, he was not happy with the Packers and wanted out.
But he had three more years left on his contract and the Packers informed all interested parties – including the Broncos – the league’s three-time Most Valuable Player and 16-year quarterback would not be available for trade.
Given the Broncos’ quarterback struggles the past five or six seasons, it would have been a bigger surprise had the team expressed no interest in Rodgers.
The Broncos respected the process. They monitored but did not call the Packers as the drama unfolded, other than a check prior to the start of the NFL Draft on April 29 to see if various reports of, first, Rodgers was available for trade, and two, his interest in the Broncos were true. The Packers weren’t listening so those reports, whether true or not, were moot.
All the while, new general manager George Paton said he liked the Broncos’ quarterback situation where veteran newcomer Teddy Bridgewater and young incumbent Drew Lock would compete for the starting job. Sure, Paton would keep his options open but he was happy with Lock and Bridgewater. Paton passed on taking either Justin Fields or Mac Jones with the Broncos’ No. 9 overall pick in the draft. Fields went No. 11 to the Bears and Jones was selected by the Patriots at No. 15.
Still, the Rodgers’ option seemed possible. Rodgers’ fiancé, actress Shailene Woodley, has ties to Boulder. Why not Rodgers and the Broncos?
That possibility is now died, at least for 2021 as the Packers and Rodgers will rework his contract.
>> Video above: Mike Klis on Denver's 2021 schedule
Deshaun Watson? The Houston Texans’ star quarterback also wants out and there are reports the Texans would now be willing to trade him. But it seems far-fetched any other team would be in the market for a player regardless of talent who is confronting 22 civil lawsuits that allege sexual misconduct.
And so it’s Lock vs. Bridgewater for the right to become the Broncos' starting quarterback Sept. 12 at MetLife Stadium against the New York Giants in the 2021 season opener. Bridgewater was acquired in a trade from Carolina on the day prior to the NFL Draft to compete with Lock, whose impressive talent was offset by too many turnovers last season.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio first told 9News that Lock and Bridgewater would split their snaps 50-50 during training camp and the preseason before the starter was named. The Broncos have two intrasquad-type practices against the Vikings on Aug. 11-12 in Minnesota followed by a preseason game Aug. 14 in Minneapolis. Then there is a preseason game at Seattle on Aug. 21.
The expectation is Fangio will settle on his starting quarterback either before the Broncos’ third and final preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams on Aug. 28 at Empower Field at Mile High, or a day or two after.
Rodgers, meanwhile, has no such competition in Green Bay. He will be the Packers’ season-opening starter.