Who is Aaron Rodgers?
After several weeks of soap-opera-type speculation followed by Rodgers’ brief run as a guest host of Jeopardy!, it appears the NFL’s reigning MVP is staying in Green Bay. Rodgers’ cryptic comments about his uncertain future marked the beginning of a chaotic offseason of quarterback questions, some of which have been answered.
In this game show, it seems a restless Russell Wilson is sticking in Seattle. Wilson and Rodgers are two of the few quarterbacks who could significantly shift Super Bowl futures odds.
“Russell Wilson could go to the Jets, and they might become a contender,” DraftKings sportsbook director John Avello said. “He’s that good. If he goes anywhere, he makes that team an automatic contender.”
Despite all the dramatic rumors, the biggest names have gone nowhere. And despite the expectation that five quarterbacks will be called early in the first round of the NFL draft April 29, no Super Bowl odds seem to be shifting anytime soon.
After suffering a soul-crushing loss in a playoff game in January, this quarterback immediately hinted he might be changing teams in the near future.
The biggest deal was minor. The Rams pulled the offseason’s first surprise by sending Jared Goff and two first-round picks to Detroit for veteran Matthew Stafford.
“That was the only quarterback move so far that we thought warranted moving any Super Bowl futures odds,” Westgate SuperBook director John Murray said. “Stafford is not an elite quarterback, but he’s one we respect and he’s an upgrade from Goff.”
The Rams’ odds to win the Super Bowl were lowered from 20-1 to 10-1 after acquiring Stafford, who went winless in three career postseason starts for the Lions yet was targeted as the quarterback who could lift Los Angeles to the next level.
“The Rams still have a quality team and they could win 10 games this year, but I don’t think the Rams are much better with Stafford,” Avello said.
The next notable wagering event is the draft, which is about hype, hope and rebuilding. The top two picks look like locks — Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence to the Jaguars and Brigham Young’s Zach Wilson to the Jets — yet rookie quarterbacks rarely move the needle on Super Bowl odds.
“The Jets have been drafting Wilson for the last six weeks,” said Michael Lombardi, a VSiN analyst and former NFL general manager.
The 49ers might or might not stand by veteran Jimmy Garoppolo as their man. San Francisco traded up for the No. 3 pick and is expected to take Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. The best bet of the draft could be the BetMGM prop price of -300 on Jones to be the third overall pick.
“From the teams I’ve talked to, he has always been the third quarterback in this derby,” Lombardi said. “The 49ers wanted to guarantee they got Mac Jones.”
There’s a good shot five quarterbacks will go in the top 10, with Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance also set to be picked early. On Feb. 23, DraftKings posted a prop on the total number of quarterbacks to go in the first round, and Over 4.5 opened -560. The line has moved to 5.5, and the Over price is + 300.
“It looks like five for sure and that a sixth quarterback in the first round is possible,” Avello said.
With about one-third of the league’s teams planning to start new quarterbacks in September, the veterans are the immediate game-changers. The Colts traded with the Eagles for Carson Wentz, the Panthers traded with the Jets for Sam Darnold, the Bears signed Andy Dalton and Washington signed Ryan Fitzpatrick. After the retirement of Drew Brees, the Saints will march on with Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston.
At the Westgate SuperBook, the Buccaneers and Chiefs are 6-1 co-favorites on the Super Bowl odds board, followed by the Rams (10-1), Bills, Packers and Ravens (each 12-1), Saints (16-1) and 49ers (18-1).
No quarterback transaction will impact the league in 2021 the way Tom Brady’s move from New England to Tampa Bay did last season. Brady’s decision in free agency turned the Buccaneers from 60-1 long shots into Super Bowl winners. Brady also led the upset of the Packers in the NFC title game, revealing Rodgers’ discontent.
Some other old faces are in the same places. Cam Newton is coming back for another audition in New England, Dak Prescott is returning from injury in Dallas and Ben Roethlisberger is getting what is likely his last shot in Pittsburgh.
Bookmakers consider the Patriots (20-1), Cowboys (25-1) and Steelers (40-1) middle-of-the-pack teams. Is Bill Belichick plotting a trade up in the draft, or is New England eyeing an eventual return for Garoppolo?
“I never really believed the Seahawks would trade Russell Wilson, but if they had done so, that would have made a big impact,” Murray said. “At this point, the only thing that could really change anything would be a trade on draft day for Deshaun Watson.”
An unhappy Watson wants out of Houston but is facing a blitz of legal issues related to alleged inappropriate behavior and sexual assault before the Texans can deal with his trade request. His playing status is an unsolved mystery.
“I think Watson is probably going to be the big one because he gives a team a chance to contend,” Avello said. “He’s in a mess, but he’s the most talented quarterback who could make a difference.”