Where might Aaron Rodgers play in 2022?

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I am truly sorry Green Bay Packers fans.

After all, you just spent a long five months or so wondering if Aaron Rodgers was going to report to training camp, force a trade out of Green Bay or even retire altogether. But with the veteran quarterback reporting to the start of training camp — confirmed in incredible fashion by the mother of Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus — that nightmare has drawn to an end.

But another one is beginning.

Because if reports are true, Rodgers will be playing in Green Bay for one final season and then explore a new home for the 2022 season:

Meaning in all likelihood, the saga over where the QB will play next fall is just getting started. So what better time than the present to start the breathless speculation? What teams could be potential homes for Rodgers in 2022?

Philadelphia Eagles

(Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)

With the trade of Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts, the Philadelphia Eagles enter the 2021 season with second-year passer Jalen Hurts as the starting quarterback. There was speculation that the team could look to draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2021 draft, and their remains speculation over a potential Deshaun Watson trade, but as of this moment, Hurts is the starter. How well Hurts fares in 2021 is anyone's guess. He showed flashes last season, particularly in a win over the New Orleans Saints in his first NFL start, but if Hurts falters you can expect the Eagles will look at addressing the position next winter. Could Rodgers be in play? Philadelphia right now has a pair of first-round picks, but Eagles fans will be keeping an eye on Wentz's play in Indianapolis. Should their former QB play more than 75% of the Colts' snaps in 2021, then the current second-rounder converts to a first, which would give the Eagles three picks in the first round. That might be enough to swing a deal. Whether the Packers would be willing to trade Rodgers to an NFC contender -- and whether Rodgers would want to play for a team perhaps in more of a rebuilding mode -- loom as potentially huge hurdles.

New England Patriots

(Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK)

Part of me is just checking to see if you are still awake. Another part of me is wondering if they might be the ultimate Bill Belichick move. Now of course, we are fresh removed from an off-season where Belichick added a number of new weapons via free agency, and drafted their quarterback of the future in Mac Jones. So the idea that the organization would immediately explore trading for Rodgers with Jones waiting in the wings -- and if Rodgers would even want to go to New England with that situation in place -- is somewhat far-fetched. But we have seen Belichick's tendency to do the unexpected over the years, after all few saw his huge spending spree coming even with the cap space the Patriots had at their disposal, so maybe the coach has another trick up his cut-off sleeves. In the end, however, I think the odds are better that I'm playing QB for the Patriots next season.

Carolina Panthers

During the 2020 NFL season, the Carolina Panthers were one of a handful of defenses that gave Rodgers some trouble. On a Saturday night late in the season, the Panthers frustrated Rodgers and the Green Bay offense, leading the QB back to the drawing board. Could Rodgers decide he wants to suit up for that team? Similar to the Eagles a moment ago, the Panthers are in an interesting position regarding quarterback. They too decided to pass on options in the draft, choosing instead to trade for Sam Darnold and hope that offensive coordinator Joe Brady can fix him. There are reasons to think that could indeed happen. Carolina has weapons around Darnold -- including the returning Christian McCaffrey -- and Darnold is still a very young player by NFL standards. There are also reasons to doubt, such as the past few seasons Darnold has put on tape. But with the young nucleus in place, the Panthers could be in position to contend sooner rather than later. If QB is holding them back, the team could look to strike. Again, issues of whether the Packers would trade Rodgers to an NFC team loom, along with whether Rodgers would go to Carolina, but this could be a landing spot to watch.

Miami Dolphins

Could Aaron Rodgers take his talents to South Beach? Once more we encounter a team that has put pieces in place, but harbors questions about the quarterback position. Last season the Miami Dolphins seemed caught between a rock and a hard place. They were trying to find a way to develop rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, but they were also suddenly in playoff contention which caused them to turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick as often as needed. Now, Fitzpatrick is in Washington with the Football Team, and Tagovailoa is entrenched as the starter in Miami. The Dolphins certainly have talent on both sides of the football, and if Tagovailoa takes a step forward, this is a team that could certainly contend in the AFC East. If Tagovailoa does not improve, however, there will be a push to maximize the window the Dolphins have, meaning an upgrade at quarterback. Would the organization reset the clock with a rookie, or try and catch lightning in a bottle with Rodgers? As for whether Rodgers might head to the Dolphins, the allure of south Florida could be a draw after a career spent on the frozen tundra...

Las Vegas Raiders

Jon Gruden once called his decision to pass on Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 draft "one of the greatest regrets in his lifetime." If history gives him a chance to rectify that decision, you might think he would jump at the chance. It is true that Derek Carr has become, at least in some circles, one of the more underappreciated quarterbacks in the league. Last season, the Las Vegas Raiders took on more of a downfield approach, and Carr seemed to thrive with that opportunity. His Intended Air Yards jumped from 6.3 yards per attempt in 2019 (a bottom-two number in that category) to 8.2 a season ago. Still, we all know what regret can do to a person, and given the chance to coach Rodgers, Gruden likely tries to make such a move. Carr is under contract through the 2022 season, but none of his contract is guaranteed this year or next, and their would be no financial implications to cutting or trading him prior to next season, according to OverTheCap.com. This might be the spot...but for one other AFC West organization.

Denver Broncos

(Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

All off-season the Denver Broncos were the team most frequently linked with the Aaron Rodgers speculation, and with good reason. After all, the Broncos have quietly assembled a solid roster on paper. Offensively, Denver has a great 11 personnel group of Coutland Sutton, K.J. Hamler, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant and the backfield tandem of Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon. Their offensive line has taken strides in the past few seasons, particularly with the emergence of Garett Bolles at the left tackle spot. On defense, the Broncos are stout up front -- particularly with Bradley Chubb and Von Miller coming off the edges -- and they added to an already deep secondary when they passed on quarterback this past draft cycle and added Patrick Surtain II at cornerback. The biggest question? Quarterback. Given that they passed on QBs in this draft, and did not swing a trade for Rodgers as was speculated, they enter training camp with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater as the options. Could Lock take a huge step forward in year three? Perhaps. Is Bridgewater a solid veteran option? Sure, and he could be successful with the talent in place around the QB position. But imagine this offense with Rodgers at the helm. If I were placing bets right now, here is where my money is going.

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