Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is seeking to become only the second player in NFL history to win three consecutive league MVP awards. The only other player to do it was Brett Favre who won in 1995, 1996 and tied for the award with Barry Sanders in 1997.
Rodgers has also won four MVP awards in his career. The only player to win five MVPs was Peyton Manning who won his fifth and final in 2013 at the age of 37.
This season, Rodgers can match both Favre and Manning if he can win his third consecutive league MVP award. His previous MVPs came in 2011, 2014, 2020 and 2021.
Over the last two seasons, Rodgers has played at an unbelievably high level. He has thrown for 8,414 yards and 85 touchdown passes while throwing just nine interceptions. He has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes during those two seasons and averaged nearly eight yards per pass attempt.
The 2020 season was statistically the second greatest season by an NFL quarterback in league history. Rodgers had a quarterback rating of 121.5. The only season with a higher quarterback rating was accomplished by Rodgers in 2011 when he had a 122.5 rating while leading the Packers to a 15-1 season.
But the Packers quarterback will face some challenges in trying to win another MVP this season. The first is simply the desire for voters to select somebody new each year and not vote for the same player. Even winning back-to-back awards is rare and Rodgers will likely have to have a dominant season like he had in 2020 to win the award for a third consecutive year.
The other obvious issue is the absence of Davante Adams who has been Rodgers’ favorite target over the last five seasons and is one of the best receivers in the NFL today if not the best. The Packers traded Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason because the wideout wanted to be reunited with his college quarterback, Derek Carr.
That leaves the Packers without an obvious number one receiver as the team enters training camp. The Packers have a diverse cast of wideouts on their roster but none who is a proven number one.
Allen Lazard has been a reliable number two or three receiver over the past two seasons but lacks the speed to be a bona fide number one according to most scouts. Lazard has reliable hands and runs the precise routes that helped him earn Rodgers’ trust. He is also one of the better blocking wideouts in the league and has the size the Packers prefer at the position.
Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb are both veterans with a history of productivity but they also have had difficulty staying on the field for an entire season. Cobb will be 32 before the season starts and has not played a complete season since 2015. In 2021, he had his least productive season as a receiver since his rookie campaign of 2011. Cobb is a longtime friend of Rodgers and is an experienced slot receiver but he is likely a WR3 at best at this stage of his career.
Watkins played a season with Packers head coach Matt LaFleur in 2017 when they were both with the Los Angeles Rams. Watkins has the speed to replace the departed Marquez Valdes-Scantling and the ability to catch the deep ball. He has also struggled to stay on the field and last played a full season of games in his rookie season of 2014. At 29, this may be Watkins’ last chance to re-establish himself as a quality NFL receiver and resurrect his career. He is playing this year on a one-year, prove-it deal.
The rest of the Packers receiving corps is younger. Amari Rodgers is hoping to take a step forward after a disappointing rookie campaign that saw him catch only four passes. Rodgers lost some weight over the offseason and appears to have regained his quickness but needs to earn the trust of his quarterback.
The Packers also drafted three receivers this year including second-round pick Christian Watson, fourth round choice Romeo Doubs and seventh rounder Samori Toure. Most rookie receivers struggle to make the adjustment to the NFL and rarely become impact players in their first NFL season. It has also been historically difficult for young receivers to earn Rodgers’ trust early in their careers.
The return of offensive linemen David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, the team’s two best linemen, will help Rodgers’ bid for another MVP by providing him with solid pass protection and blocking for the run game. The Packers are hoping Bakhtiari is ready to start training camp later this month while Jenkins’ return is projected for midseason.
The Packers are also expected to have a stronger defense this year which could give Rodgers a shorter field and more opportunities to score touchdowns than he had in recent seasons.
Rodgers is trying to make history by winning another MVP this season. He faces some significant challenges to reach that goal, but Rodgers himself has continued to play at an elite level even at the age of 39. This season will be a tough test for Rodgers but don’t bet against him.
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