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Mile High Monday: Aaron Rodgers is unlikely to opt out this week

Jun 28, 2021, 6:31 AM | Updated: 6:32 am
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after throwing the ga...
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos and the rest of the league are on a break. Even though nobody is at team facilities working out, the news items keep flowing in the league that somehow finds a way to make it into sports headlines all year long.

I like the only time of year I can take a vacation. I’ll be off the air for a little over three weeks for most of July, but then I’ll be back and ready to go for the start of training camp!

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ! The following is a result of those trips during the week.

Buckle up, let’s take a ride through my thoughts.

***

Opt Out Unlikely for Rodgers

Everyone around the NFL was in a bit of shock last week when it was revealed that players could opt out of the 2021 season again due to COVID-19 concerns. The news quickly spread, and that’s when the speculation began that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers could opt out and essentially save $20 million.

His $11.5 million in signing bonus allocation for this year would not be subject to forfeiture. His $6.8 million roster bonus which he earned back in March might still be paid out weekly during the regular season. Then, after the 2021 season, Rodgers would likely be dealt.
Broncos fans got incredibly excited thinking there was a chance that Rodgers could threaten to opt out, giving him leverage and forcing the hand of the Packers to trade him within a week.

That’s not going to happen.

Reports indicate that Rodgers will not choose to opt out of the 2021 season because it’s irrevocable and he would not be able to play for a year. Rodgers loves football too much to sit out for the entire year, no matter the financial ramifications that may come by staying away from the Packers – perhaps even into the regular season.

This is a situation that is going to take more patience. I still believe that Rodgers will be traded, and I think the Broncos are his most likely destination. However, the earliest I think something could be done is the middle of August.

I believe the Packers will offer him a contract that makes him the highest-paid quarterback in the league in terms of annual average salary. The Packers did make him an offer earlier, but that was more of an extension and not a new contract with guaranteed money. They essentially tried to move some money around in his current deal and Rodgers saw right through that effort.

After the new contract is offered, it’s on Rodgers to say no. If (when?) that happens, I feel that the Packers will crack and look to finally trade him. It’s on the Broncos to keep calling and make sure to have a deal ready to go so there is no hesitation (or going back) on the Packers part.

Rodgers is not going to opt out (most likely), but the dream of him playing for the Broncos is not dead.

***

Most Gifted All-Time?

The “Greatest of All-Time” conversation is one sports fans go around and around about often. Whether it’s Michael Jordan versus LeBron James (MJ easily) or Tom Brady versus Joe Montana (give me TB12), sports fans cannot stop debating who was the greatest to ever get it done.

A recent debate came up on the Ross Tucker Podcast about which quarterback was the most gifted of all-time. Some are speculating that Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is at the top of that list. Others point to players in the NFL’s past like Michael Vick (Atlanta Falcons), Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) or John Elway (Denver Broncos) years ago.

This is a twist on the GOAT debate because it’s not about Super Bowl wins. Brady is at the top of the list with seven championships, but when rating physical gifts and physical tools, he would be much further down the rankings. Looking at physical tools and what it takes to play the position is a more interesting conversation.

I’ve always felt that Elway was the most-gifted quarterback in NFL history – and I’m not a Broncos fan. Just looking at his physical skill set, coupled with his football intelligence and ability as a passer, it’s easy to see why he’s at the top of my list.

No matter who you put as No. 1 on this list, it’s a short group of players who came into the league with a unique skill set.

***

Sounds About Right

The Broncos have a better offensive line than some think. A unit that used to be much maligned has gotten better with the draft picks and free agent additions (not all of them) from former general manager John Elway and current GM George Paton.

In addition to the players added by the front office, the coaching they get from Hall of Famer Mike Munchak is outstanding. The players are solid, but the coaching from Munchak gets the best out of the five men up front tasked with protecting the quarterback.

Left tackle Garett Bolles is one of the best in the league at his position. It’s been a fantastic transformation for one of the most-maligned offensive tackles in Broncos history. Bolles is a Pro Bowl-caliber player who could get an All-Pro nod in 2021.

Next to him is Dalton Risner, an up-and-coming left guard who has Pro Bowl upside this season. The center is manned by Lloyd Cushenberry. He had struggles as a rookie, but I expect him to improve significantly this year.

Graham Glasgow is the right guard and brings veteran experience to the position. The right tackle spot is an open competition, but I expect Bobby Massie to win the job.

Pro Football Network recently ranked all the offensive lines in the NFL. The Broncos ranked No. 14 in the NFL, which is slightly above the middle of the pack. That sounds about right in my opinion. This group of five is better than the one the Broncos had last year. It’s interesting to think where they could rank heading into next season.

It’s a weak argument when fans of Drew Lock go out of their way to blame anyone – except their favorite quarterback – for his woes in 2020. The offensive line is often a common candidate for these fans who are ignoring the truth – the Broncos have a really good offensive line. Lock had one of the longest time-before-pass rates in the NFL, while he was one of the least-sacked quarterbacks in 2020.

If Lock wins the starting job this year, I feel the Broncos offensive line can do an even better job of protecting him. I’m looking forward to seeing him improve his game, but make sure if he does have struggles in 2021 to not blame the guys blocking for him up front. Denver has a good offensive line, bordering on top-10 units in the NFL. They could take that next step this season.

***

Who Is It?

Tom Brady is motivated by a lot of things. The “Brady 6” are the infamous quarterbacks selected ahead of him in the 2000 NFL Draft. Those six players have motivated Brady for years to be the best he can be, and he’s won more Super Bowl championships than any quarterback in NFL history. In fact, he’s almost doubled the closest competitors in that department.

A recent interview with Brady revealed that he had an extra motivation for the 2020 season. When he was a free agent and looking for a new home, there was a mystery team who showed interest but decided to pass on the veteran superstar. This led Brady to wonder why and say “You’re sticking with that (expletive)?”

Nobody knows which team Brady was talking about, but that doesn’t stop the internet from guessing which team and which quarterback it was. Some think it was the Broncos and Lock. Some think it was the Tennessee Titans and Ryan Tannehill. Many think it was the San Francisco 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo. The latest rumor has the team and the quarterback as the Las Vegas Raiders and Derek Carr.

So, who do you think Brady was talking about? Hit me up on social media and let me know!

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