With Aaron Rodgers officially holding out, is it time to Love or hate Packers on the betting market?

QB Aaron Rodgers (12) and the Packers were all smiles Saturday night after dispatching the Rams.
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Ricky Dimon

NFL· 3 months ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

The Green Bay Packers’ mandatory minicamp began on Tuesday. To the surprise of no one, star quarterback Aaron Rodgers was not in attendance.

That means he is now officially holding out.

Although the situation has not exactly changed, Tuesday’s beginning of mini-camp — and with it Rodgers’ holdout –makes this a good time to start looking ahead to what may be in store for the Packers in 2021. Their options are simple, but that doesn’t make the decision easy. Either Green Bay can trade Rodgers and get the Jordan Love era started, trade him for another quarterback, or call his bluff and keep him in the hope that the reigning NFL MVP changes his mind and decides he will return to the franchise for which he has played the entirety of his illustrious career.

Let’s take a look at the Packers’ prospects for the upcoming season both with and without Rodgers.

If Rodgers returns …

You have to like Green Bay’s chances of running it back and capturing another NFC North crown if Rodgers decides to sign up for another season under center. The Packers went 13-3 last year, leaving all of their other division rivals in the dust (the Chicago Bears finished second at 8-8). Backup running back Jamaal Williams is gone (left for the division rival Detroit Lions in free agency) and he was not an insignificant piece, but Green Bay crucially re-signed starting RB Aaron Jones.

Needless to say, bringing back Jones was much more important than doing the same with Williams. Therefore the Packers are just fine in the backfield. Pair Rodgers with Jones, Davante Adams, and an offensive line led by the return of a healthy David Bakhtiari (three-time Pro Bowl tackle) and this offense would once again be one of the scariest in the business.

Green Bay is -143 at DraftKings to win the division, which would indicate that oddsmakers have some confidence in Rodgers returning. Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Buffalo Bills are bigger favorites in their respective divisions. The Packers’ regular-season over/under win total is currently off the board (for obvious reasons), so taking them at -143 in the NFC North may be your best bet if you think the 37-year-old is headed back to the frozen tundra.

If it’s the end of an era …

Of course, it really does sound like Rodgers is serious about never again playing for this franchise and either retiring from the game (Jeopardy host?!?!) or sitting out for a year and going to another team in 2022 when it becomes more financially plausible for Green Bay to trade him.

If the three-time MVP does stay away this season, the Packers could be hurting. Yes they drafted Love for a reason in the 2020 first round, but he has never thrown a pass as a professional and it’s pretty obvious that Green Bay would rather not see him throw any passes again in 2021. Jones, Adams, and Bakhtiari are great pieces and tight end Robert Tonyan is a quality player, but you can’t expect the sum of those parts to be anywhere close to the same if Love instead of Rodgers is running the show. Heck, no team would be close to the same if a reigning MVP left before the following season.

A hole left by Rodgers would leave an opening for other division rivals, and the Minnesota Vikings could be good enough to take advantage. They finished one game behind Chicago at 7-9 last year, so it’s not like they were terrible. Dalvin Cook has been one of the two best RBs in the game (along with Derrick Henry) over the past two seasons and Justin Jefferson (88 catches, 1400 yards, seven TDs) was a breakout star as a rookie. Jefferson and Adam Thielen make up one the NFL’s best receiver tandems.

If a couple of offseason additions such as first-round pick Christian Darrisaw at left tackle and free agent Patrick Peterson at cornerback work out, there is no reason why the Vikings can’t make considerable strides. The Vikes would still need help from the Packers — you know, like Rodgers not playing. And because that is a very real possibility, Minnesota at +260 to win the division looks more appetizing than Green Bay at -143.

Pickswise is the home of free Expert NFL picks and NFL odds. Be sure to check out all of our season previews and NFL futures bets leading up to the 2022 NFL season.

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