Could the Green Bay Packers' uber-aggressive free agent haul that fetched four Day 1 starters have been partially fueled by their desire to land one of the upcoming draft's top QB prospects, who, barring injury, would almost certainly redshirt at least the next two years?
On its surface, it would appear unlikely.
Aaron Rodgers signed the richest contract in NFL history less than eight months ago and is coming off back-to-back "down years" in which he still compiled a combined 41:8 TD-INT ratio and won't turn 36 until December. Even in the wake of the explosive Bleacher Report story detailing the friction between Rodgers and ex-coach Mike McCarthy and its residual effect on the franchise, the Packers making such a bold move at the position so soon after hitching their wagon to Rodgers would signal a stunning about-face.
Yet the Packers are hosting Missouri QB Drew Lock on a top-30 visit Monday, Charles Robinson of Yahoo! reports. NFL Media added that Green Bay also tried — unsuccessfully — to bring in Duke's Daniel Jones for a private meeting.
The Packers have four top-75 picks, including two first-rounders for the first time in a decade. That means they arguably wield more draft flexibility than any teams except Oakland and Cleveland. Their second-year general manager has quickly developed a reputation for his aggressiveness. For a team rarely in this position, doing due diligence on quarterbacks makes sense, we suppose.
Of course, this is also the same organization that drafted Rodgers late in Round 1 in 2005, when Brett Favre had just authored a resurgent season and guided the Pack to its third consecutive division title. It then let the youngster learn in a QB2 role behind the franchise legend for three years. And wasn't it another franchise legend, Hall of Famer Ron Wolf, whose philosophy was to draft a quarterback every year possible?
But that's an imperfect comparison for more than a few reasons, the most important being the obvious financial benefits teams enjoy in today's NFL from getting a rookie on the field as soon as possible. We think it's almost impossible to rationalize taking out what amounts to a valuable insurance policy with a first-round, fully-guaranteed QB contract behind a guy who isn't going anywhere soon. Remember, the Packers dealt starting S Damarious Randall to Cleveland last offseason for DeShone Kizer, who failed to inspire confidence in Rodgers absence but is only 23 and under team control for two more years.
And before you suggest the unthinkable — trading Rodgers, even, say, 12-plus months from now — understand he would still absorb north of $40 million in dead cap space if he were dealt. And he's currently under contract until 2023, his age-40 campaign. Whether they made the right decision last offseason in extending Rodgers a year early, when he was coming off a broken collarbone, remains to be seen. But it's pretty clear the contract limits their leverage right now.
Our QB Maester Mark Schofield advised Monday that the only scenario in which the Packers should spend a first-rounder at the position is if Lock somehow fell to No. 30. Perhaps that's the exact hypothetical, albeit highly, highly unlikely, that Green Bay is preparing for with this visit.
But it says here that regardless of their motive behind visiting with Lock, and this certainly could be largely for show with lying season nearing its crescendo, the Packers' smartest draft move is continuing to surround Rodgers with as many plug-and-play difference makers as possible.