Munich – As part of the Divisional Round last weekend, a real era came to an end in the NFL. For the first time since the 2009/2010 season, neither Tom Brady nor Aaron Rodgers are in one of the two championship games.
While Brady lost to the Los Angeles Rams with his Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers failed to the San Francisco 49ers. Since both quarterbacks have publicly philosophized about a premature end to their careers in the past, many fans are wondering whether this time has come.
Nor was the future of the two superstars so uncertain. ran shows the initial situation and the different possibilities:
Tom Brady: Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Nothing?
After the Rams defeat, Tom Brady didn’t want to talk too much about his future: “I haven’t thought about it yet. I’ll just look at it from day to day and then I’ll know where I am at some point,” said the 44-year-old .
He was asked about the possible end of his career because an “ESPN” report had appeared before the game that this scenario was often addressed, at least within the team. Even head coach Bruce Arians apparently has no idea how Brady will decide: “It’s up to him whether he comes back or not.”
If the longtime playmaker of the New England Patriots hangs on for another year, a stay with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is very likely. In Florida he still has a contract for the coming season, which will bring him around 25 million US dollars.
Tom Brady: Remaining doubts remain
Should he return to the “Bucs”, it is quite possible that he will extend his contract early in order to provide more financial leeway for possible Buccaneers free agents in the current season. Brady is known for giving up money himself to allow the team to hire more expensive free agents.
And yet, for the first time in the long career of the great Tom Bradys, doubts remain as to whether he will actually return this time. Before he left the Patriots in spring 2020, the only question was where his extraordinary abilities would end up, now for the first time there is an end to his career.
Brady has won the Super Bowl seven times. So there is not much left to prove. But why should the best quarterback of all time stop when he obviously still has so much gas in the tank? “Physically, I continue to feel very good.” A question that only the GOAT can answer itself in the coming weeks.
Aaron Rodgers: All options on the table
With Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, the situation is much more tricky than with Brady and the Buccaneers. The (still) playmaker of the Green Bay Packers has had a real rollercoaster season. From contract quarrels in the offseason to a stumbling start to the MVP favorite. The season reads like a typical football movie were it not for the sudden end against the San Francisco 49ers.
Even if Rodgers brought a career end into play in the past few weeks, it only became really tangible after the 49ers bankruptcy – probably also for the quarterback himself: “Everything is very fresh right now. It’s really shocking for me, me hadn’t finished the season by a long shot,” he said after the game.
Similar to Brady, he also wants to take his time before making a decision. However, the big difference with the Buccaneers star here is that Rodgers could leave the Packers even if he doesn’t retire.
Aaron Rodgers: Packers before change – with or without the superstar?
“I don’t want to be part of a rebuild if I’m going to continue playing,” he said dejectedly. This means that if the Packers don’t manage to put together a competitive squad in the coming season, it will be difficult to convince him to return.
Rodgers also knows about the complicated salary situation at the Packers, who are currently in the red for the coming season with 44.8 million US dollars. “There are so many decisions to be made. Key players, a lot of guys who played today… so many guys who are out of contract or about to be and all that salary cap stuff,” he mused after the game.
General manager Brian Gutekunst has a lot of work to do, made even more difficult by expiring contracts like wide receiver Davante Adams. An early contract extension could give Rodgers more salary headroom, but the key here will be how concrete the franchise’s plans are likely to be presented to Rodgers at some point in the offseason.
Aaron Rodgers: Farewell complicated – but not impossible
Because Rodgers still has a contract in Green Bay until 2023, the Packers actually have all the reins in their hands. But even in the past offseason, when the two parties were at loggerheads, it rarely seemed as if the Packers really decided where Rodgers would play in the future.
Finally, both sides pulled themselves together and agreed to continue working together for another year. As NFL experts like Jay Glazer from “Fox Sports” reported back then, Rodgers negotiated a gentlemen’s agreement with the Packers to prevent another confrontation.
He is said to have been guaranteed that no obstacles would be put in his way with future farewell ambitions. Means: If he wants to leave Green Bay, he should already demand a trade in 2022 or can leave there carefree as a free agent in 2023.
With a cap hit of over $46 million, a franchise needs to have decent cap space to attract Rodgers in addition to a suitable offer to the Packers. Motivation will also play a major role in whether the 39-year-old, like Brady two years ago, wants to join a completely new team and a new playing philosophy.
Decision impacts entire NFL
No matter what decision the two future Hall of Famers make, it will affect the entire NFL. If both playmakers stay with their teams, they should do everything possible to start another attack on the Super Bowl.
Should they retire, however, the league would lose two of the greatest faces in its history at a stroke.
Since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers are among the absolute favorites in their respective divisions, the sporting balance of power could suddenly turn around here as well. This would also be the case if Rodgers were to actually change teams – the NFL would have one more title candidate in the running, while the Packers with quarterback Jordan Love should probably push ahead with a small rebuild.
Either way, faced with two such important decisions, the NFL is at a historic crossroads that both Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have a major impact on.
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