The Green Bay Packers are doing everything in their power to keep quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Davante Adams for at least another season.
Vikings fans should thank them.
While the Packers are desperate to run things back after three consecutive 13-win seasons but no Super Bowl appearances, the Vikings are looking for a fresh start with new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O’Connell. So why should the Purple faithful be happy to see Rodgers stay in Green Bay?
First, it would remove any pressure the Vikings might feel to try to win what could be a terrible division, if Rodgers and Adams are gone. The last thing the Vikings need next season is to see an opening to possibly win the NFC North and then get bounced quickly in the playoffs because they were never that good in the first place. The Vikings are going through a retooling process, and any success next season should be considered a bonus, not a necessity.
Second, Rodgers being taken off the trade market would mean quarterback desperate teams would be more likely to make quality offers to the Vikings in an attempt to get at least one season of Kirk Cousins. All indications are that the Cousins camp has made it clear to the Vikings that they won’t be taking any pay cuts and that means a third contract extension would eventually cause more salary cap issues this team doesn’t need.
Cousins’ salary cap hit in the final season of his current contract is $45 million, or 21.5 percent of the cap. Cousins didn’t get a no-trade clause in this latest contract extension and that means the Vikings could look to move him. If Minnesota was willing to take on some of his cap hit for this season, it could land them a pretty good return for the veteran QB. What type of return? Think first-round pick.
One team that comes to mind as a potential trade partner would be the Denver Broncos, whose general manager is former Vikings assistant GM George Paton. The Broncos have been trying to get Rodgers for two years, and if he’s not available Paton could dial up his former employer.
So why would Rodgers stay put after spending all of last offseason trying to get out out Green Bay? It’s become clear what he wanted was a large say in the team’s moves and he has gotten that. Adams’ return, whether via the franchise tag or a long-term extension, will be even more evidence that what Rodgers wants, Rodgers gets.
Rodgers has won back-to-back Associated Press NFL MVP awards, so it’s not surprising the Packers want to keep him happy. But he’s 38 years old and was less than impressive against the 49ers in the Packers’ playoff loss in late January at Lambeau Field.
If Rodgers remains with the Packers and that helps the Vikings get more for Cousins, Minnesota fans should be very happy.
- Defensive end Danielle Hunter, who missed all of 2020 after having surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck and then was limited to seven games last season because of a torn pectoral muscle, will be used at defensive end and outside linebacker in the Vikings’ defensive scheme, according to new coordinator Ed Donatell. Hunter, 27, has turned into a Pro Bowl end when healthy and had six sacks in 2021 before his injury. He had 14.5 sacks in both 2018 and 2019. The Vikings will consider their base defense to be a 3-4 — something they haven’t used since 1985 — but Donatell said there also will be plenty of 4-3 looks as well.
- Donatell was the Packers’ defensive coordinator from 2000 to 2003. I covered the 2003 Packers for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Donatell ran a 4-3 defense that mixed in more dime (six defensive backs, one linebacker) than nickel looks (five defensive backs, two linebackers).
- Although it might not have been fair, Donatell was dismissed five days after the Packers’ lost in overtime at Philadelphia in an NFC divisional playoff game. The key play was Donovan McNabb’s 28-yard completion to wide receiver Freddie Mitchell on fourth-and-26 with 1:12 left in the fourth quarter and Green Bay leading by three. Eagles kicker David Akers tied the score late in the fourth quarter and then won it with a field goal in overtime after Brett Favre was intercepted.
- Since scoring two goals on Jan. 21 in a 5-1 win at Chicago, the Wild’s Ryan Hartman has only one goal and five points and is a minus-3 in 12 games. That was entering the Wild’s game on Thursday in Toronto. Hartman, the team’s top line center, had 18 goals and 32 points and was a plus-32 in 36 games before hitting a cold stretch.
- Colorado goalie Darcy Kuemper, a member of the Wild from 2012-13 until 2016-17, is 25-6-2 with a 2.47 goals-against average and .919 saves percentage in 36 games with the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs entered Thursday with an NHL-leading 78 points and Kuemper was 21-2-2 with a .922 saves percentage in his past 28 games.
- Smart move by the Timberwolves to not raise season ticket prices for the 2022-23 season and to decrease the price of some seats in Target Center. The Star Tribune had the story on Thursday. The Wolves’ crowds have improved this season, but the fact some remain skeptical isn’t surprising given how long the franchise was down.
- This is a quality NBA town, if the fan base is given a quality product. It won’t be surprising if Target Center soon is talked about like the Metrodome was before the Vikings and Twins finally got their new stadiums. The renovations done in recent years helped to improve the concourse and other areas, but there’s only so much that can be done inside the arena bowl.
- If you love baseball stop reading now. OK, you’ve been warned. My guess is that we’ll be fortunate to see MLB return from its lockout before June and even that might be optimistic considering the friction between the owners and the MLB Players Association. Unfortunately, a victory in the negotiating room is more important to both sides than who wins the World Series this year.