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As the Cleveland Browns enter into a new era where Super Bowl aspirations are real, stories from around the league start to be important to the team like never before.
The biggest NFL storyline this offseason has revolved around a few quarterbacks. Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers have all been discussed as possibly on the move. Wilson has settled back in with Seattle while Watson’s off-the-field issues leave his future in limbo at this point.
Rodgers continues to be the talk of the league. While many teams were said to be interested before the NFL draft, most believed if a trade would happen it would happen after June 1st to allow the Packers to split the dead cap money over two years.
There now seems to be only three options on the board to conclude the Rodgers drama: Return to Green Bay, sit out the season or a trade to Denver.
No matter what happens, the Browns would be affected.
If Rodgers stays with the Packers, Cleveland’s Week 16 match-up is much more difficult. While losses are equal in the standings, when it comes to tiebreakers for the playoffs a loss out of conference is better than a loss in conference.
If Rodgers sits out the season, obviously the Browns Week 16 game should be easier without one of the best quarterbacks in league history.
Rodgers being traded to the Broncos may be the worst-case scenario for the Browns, and the entire AFC. Cleveland faces off with Denver in Week 7 of the season. A Rodgers trade obviously creates a more difficult path to a victory that week.
Not only does the path for a Week 7 victory become more difficult but the path to the Super Bowl does as well. As noted above, a loss in conference can cause problems with tiebreakers. If the Browns are tied with a team not in their division and that they didn’t play head to head in 2021, conference record is the next tiebreaker.
Rodgers on an AFC team also makes the path to the Super Bowl that much more difficult for Cleveland. Rodgers would be added to Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson as top-flight quarterbacks in the Browns conference.
At this point, odds favor Rodgers return to Green Bay and a tough matchup for Cleveland in Week 16. Few believe he will sit out a season and few believe the Packers will trade him this late in the process but it is something for Browns fans to keep an eye on over the next couple of weeks and the start of training camp.