Despite report, Aaron Rodgers trade to Pittsburgh Steelers isn't going to happen

RON COOK
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)
Pro Football Talk has reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers have agreed on a compensation package if quarterback Aaron Rodgers, above, should opt to leave the Packers.

Two thoughts immediately came to mind after a report over the weekend said the Steelers and Green Bay Packers have agreed on compensation in a potential trade involving Aaron Rodgers:

One, the Steelers would be crazy to go after Rodgers.

And two, Rodgers would be a fool to come to the Steelers.

A trade makes no sense for either side.

It isn't going to happen.

To use a favorite Tomlinism:

"Never say never, but never."

The report came from Pro Football Talk, a respected source in the business. It said the Steelers, Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans have deals in place with the Packers for Rodgers should he decide to leave Green Bay. The football is in Rodgers' court, so to speak.

Long-time NFL reporter Mike Florio acknowledged in the post that it is not the Steelers' way to make such a high-profile acquisition. He is right on with that observation. But Florio pointed out the franchise is stagnating, that local television ratings were down 10 percent last season and that no-shows at Heinz Field were up an average of about 8,000 per game. He said bringing in Rodgers would be the perfect way to energize a tired organization.

I'll give Florio this:

The Steelers absolutely are stagnating. They haven't won a playoff game since the 2016 season, going 0-3 in the postseason and giving up 42, 48 and 45 points. They have won just three playoff games since their most recent Super Bowl appearance after the 2010 season. They are projected to be no better than a middle-of-the-pack team next season, maybe even the fourth-best team in the AFC North Division.

But Rodgers isn't the answer.

It's not even a reasonable possibility.

And, yes, I remember Rodgers and Mike Tomlin flirting like school kids last season.

Steelers have many needs beyond QB: The Steelers have far too many glaring needs beyond quarterback to invest heavily in Rodgers. A near-the-end Ben Roethlisberger wasn't at his best last season, but he was far down the list of Steelers' shortcomings. Start with the offensive line and the lack of a running game. The receivers fell off late in the season. The run defense was the worst in the NFL. Devin Bush and Joe Schobert were major disappointments.

The Steelers' priority list, other than quarterback, should include an offensive lineman, a receiver if JuJu Smith-Schuster leaves as expected, a defensive lineman especially if Stephen Tuitt doesn't come back, an inside linebacker and secondary help if Joe Haden, Ahkello Witherspoon and Terrell Edmunds all move on as free agents.

Rodgers would be too costly: Beyond that, the Steelers can't afford Rodgers' salary.

Speculation has him wanting to be the NFL's highest-paid player at $50 million a season. Good luck to any team fitting that under its salary cap.

The Steelers also can't afford to give up the draft capital it would take to get Rodgers. It's not just those glaring needs. He is 38. He has won the past two NFL MVP awards and has four in all, but his high quality of play can't last forever. He's not Tom Brady, right?

No reason for Rodgers to come to Pittsburgh: One other thing ...

Why would Rodgers want to come to the Steelers, those love letters back and forth with Tomlin aside? Especially at this late stage of his career?

Other than money — which is a big other, of course — you have to think Rodgers wants a chance to win another Super Bowl. He has won just one championship, leading the Packers by the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV after the 2010 season. Despite his greatness, he hasn't gotten the Packers back to the Super Bowl.

What chance does Rodgers have to win big with the flawed Steelers?

He'll likely stay with Packers: I'm guessing Rodgers stays with the Packers.

For one thing, Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst said last week that he hasn't received any trade calls involving Rodgers. Is he flat out lying? For another, it's hard for a Hall of Famer to switch teams even though Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Brett Favre and Brady did it. It figures to be especially hard for Rodgers because the Packers have hired one of his favorite former Coaches, Pittsburgh native Tom Clements, to be their new quarterbacks coach. Rodgers played a "significant role" in that hiring, according to Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur.

I can't say for sure where Rodgers will end up, but I do know where he won't be going:

Pittsburgh.