On Wednesday, July 28, Aaron Rodgers reported to training camp for the Green Bay Packers following a tumultuous offseason. Questions persisted about the MVP quarterback’s future with the team that drafted him. Ultimately, Green Bay voided the final year of Rodgers’s contract (2023) and made some concessions to Rodgers to get him back in the building. However, speculation persists that this could be Rodgers’s last year with the Packers, particularly after he and Davante Adams posted the same picture of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on Instagram, implying that this could be their own “Last Dance”.
Sportsbooks Scramble After Retirement Rumors
All offseason, sportsbooks have needed to price into their Packers’ futures the reality that Aaron Rodgers may not be with the team this season. That made the difficult job of setting lines even more of a challenge. On July 23, Pro Football Talk reported that it was expected that Rodgers would be retiring in the coming week. Immediately, sportsbooks went into a frenzy as they removed NFC North futures, Green Bay Packers win totals, and Aaron Rodgers player total and award odds from their wager offerings as they waited to further assess the developing situation.
Multiple sportsbooks believe Aaron Rodgers will retire next week, per @ProFootballTalk pic.twitter.com/iCvOwN6vTU
— PFF (@PFF) July 24, 2021
Rodgers Returns to Green Bay
On July 26, NFL Network’s Ian Rappoport reported that Rodgers had told people close to him that he would be playing for the Packers this upcoming season. Of course, that was excellent news for Packers fans, and neutral observers as the reigning MVP would be back to lead a Super Bowl contending team. On Wednesday, Rodgers reported to training camp and took the field with his teammates, but it wasn’t without incident as his post-practice press conference quickly became the stuff of legends.
#Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has indicated to people close to him that he does plan to play for GB this season, sources say. That is the expectation. Many factors are at play, but with GM Brian Gutekunst saying he is “hopeful” for a positive outcome, there is a glimmer of optimism.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 26, 2021
“What was this all about for you?” The NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero asked Rodgers. He answered and explained that he “wanted to help the organization maybe learn from some of the mistakes in the past, in my opinion, about the way some of the outgoing veterans were treated and just the fact that we didn’t retain a number of players that I feel like were core players to our foundation, our locker room.”
Rodgers had a whopping list of former players prepared as examples, including Charles Woodson, Jordy Nelson, Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, James Jones, John Kuhn, Brett Goode, T.J. Lang, Bryan Bulaga, Casey Hayward, and Micah Hyde. Rodgers said he felt hard done by the departures of these players as they were great personalities he enjoyed working with.
As was suspected after Rodgers rejected a lucrative extension offer from Green Bay, the MVP quarterback reiterated that the conflict “wasn’t about the money”. “It was about trying to be a resource for the organization that I care about and love so much.” Despite the conflict with the franchise, it does seem like Rodgers is locked in and excited for the upcoming season.
“Do you want to be here?”
“I do, I do. I love my teammates. I love the city. I love my coaches.”
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) July 28, 2021
2021 Packers Prospects
Now that we know Aaron Rodgers will be the starting quarterback for the Packers this season, that confirmation should solidify the betting markets for Green Bay. The Packers are currently listed at +1800 to win the Super Bowl, +900 to win the NFC, and -125 to win the NFC North. The Packers’ win total remains off the board, although some reports suggest the number will be 10.5. Rodgers is listed at +1000 to win MVP and +1800 to win the Offensive Player of the Year award.
*Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
Long-Term Implications for Sportsbooks
This wild and rocky offseason of Aaron Rodgers rumors likely served as a perfectly-timed litmus test for how sportsbooks can handle the fast-paced breaking news of the NFL. 2021 marks the first season that the NFL will be partnered with sportsbooks, including FanDuel, DraftKings, and Caesars, while sports betting is expected to be an industry of massive growth as individual states start to launch their online wagering over the coming months.
Ongoing issues surrounding marquee players could lead to similar scrambles for sportsbooks. That includes the Texans’ Deshaun Watson, a player facing some unfortunate legal issues as he’s in the midst of sexual assault allegations that keep his status for the season murky at best. Watson’s ability to play this season is a question, as is his future with the Texans, so the odds surrounding Houston and Watson are quite interesting to watch.
Additionally, there are commonly quickly-changing sports markets surrounding star players potentially on the move. This is particularly true for the NBA, where star players change teams seemingly every year. The Packers and their betting markets seem to finally be getting some stability regarding Aaron Rodgers, at least for the upcoming season. Sportsbooks will undoubtedly be having internal conversations about how to handle these issues moving forward.