A blocked punt may have marked the end of an era as it helped the San Francisco 49ers move on to the NFC Championship game. Facing what looked like an insurmountable seven point deficit with a banged up Jimmy Garoppolo, the Niners’ punt team scored on their own with less than five minutes left in the game to set up a 10-all tie. When the Green Bay Packers went three and out on the following possession, it gave San Francisco time to march down the field to give Robbie Gould a shot at a 45-yard field goal. The former Bear made his kick and ruined Aaron Rodgers’ last best chance at a second Championship in Titletown.
The loss to the 49ers means George Paton now has the opportunity to set up a second interview or hire Nathaniel Hackett this week. The Packers’ offensive coordinator is one of 10 candidates to be the Broncos’ 17th head coach. 9News’ Mike Klis reported Saturday he is considered one of the final contenders for the position.
Losing in the first round also looks like it could set the stage for a mass offseason exodus from Wisconsin, which could prove beneficial for a Broncos roster desperate for a starting caliber quarterback. The loss means Rodgers is now the first quarterback in NFL history to lose four playoff starts to a single opponent. His Packers are also the first team in NFL history to win 13 games in three straight seasons and fail to even reach the Super Bowl. Rodgers admitted the losses would impact his decision moving forward.
Have heard from loads of people in recent weeks that there would be no way that the Packers would part with Aaron (or vice versa), that everyone's getting along so well, etc.— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) January 23, 2022
Already hearing a different tune from so many..
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Packers are $44.8 million over the salary cap, and they only have 41 players under contract. Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams is not one of them. Last July, Adams and Rodgers made “Last Dance” posts on Instagram that seemed to allude to the ESPN documentary about the last season Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen played for the Chicago Bulls.
When asked after the game, the future Hall of Famer acknowledged the challenges ahead of the only franchise he’s ever known. He spoke about Davante Adams as well as other pending free agents and said, “I don’t want to be a part of a rebuild if I keep playing.”
Aaron Rodgers: “I don’t wanna be a part of a rebuild.” pic.twitter.com/Bkyo14eLCC— John Ellis (@1PantherPlace) January 23, 2022
While the Packers’ championship window looks like it’s closing, shrewd cap management and savvy drafting suggests Denver could win big if they can simply find better quarterback play than what Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock provided during last year’s 7-10 season. Over the Cap currently projects the Broncos to have $41,613,840 in cap space this offseason. They also have extra draft capital because of the decision to trade Von Miller to the Los Angeles Rams. Paton said it best in November: “We have the resources to do whatever we want moving forward.”
The Broncos have the cap space to acquire a future Hall of Famer and still surround him with enough help to compete in 2022. John Elway collected talented pass catchers such as Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant, and Albert Okwuegbunam, and they make Denver one of the more appealing destinations for passers around the league. When I spoke with former NFL general manager Mike Tannenbaum on Cover2Broncos earlier this month, he called the group one of the best in the NFL. Since Paton took over for Elway as GM, the Broncos drafted a promising three down back in Javonte Williams and extended Sutton and Patrick on cap-friendly deals, creating a window to win from now on.
They look like they’re simply a quarterback away.
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