The Last Dance? Pack eyes Super Bowl before offseason of uncertainty

Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

Way back in September, the Green Bay Packers began their quest to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay.

Green Bay started the season knowing this could be the last time that several core players might be on the roster, but it didn’t stop the organization from dreaming big.

Here we are, several months later, and the Packers are closing in on their big goal, despite the future still being very much up in the air. That makes this playoff run that much more intriguing, and one fans need to soak up.

The biggest question facing the Packers and their future is whether quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be the one leading the team. He came into the season not thrilled with how the organization had treated him during his Hall of Fame career, and many people expected this year to be No. 12’s final one in Green Bay.

The relationship between Rodgers, the likely soon-to-be MVP for a second straight season, and the front office has improved by all accounts, and it seems much more likely that he’ll keep wearing the green and gold uniform in the future than it did back in September.

Still, the team is going to have to make several hard decisions in order to get under the salary cap, and it’s possible trading or moving on from Rodgers is the move needed to keep most of the rest of the team in place and competitive for years to come. It’s also a possibility that Rodgers asks to be traded.

Another big piece to the puzzle of the Packers’ future is wide receiver Davante Adams — who, like Rodgers, had another big season.

Adams, who set new team single season records for receptions and receiving yards, is a free agent after the season. It’s been reported that the team and Adams haven’t had any contract extension talks since July, and that the team will likely place the franchise tag on Adams for the 2022 season and then try and work on a longer extension.

Of course, if Green Bay ends up moving on from No. 12 and 17, the offense and team will likely experience a far different season than it did this go ‘round.

After those two players’ futures are figured out, then the attention will turn to the team’s huge list of free agents.

Among the list of unrestricted free agents the team must make decisions on are: cornerbacks Rasul Douglas, Kevin King and Chandon Sullivan, tight end Robert Tonyan, inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, offensive lineman Lucas Patrick and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Then throw in restricted free agent receiver Allen Lazard and offensive lineman Yosh Nijman and exclusive restricted free agent inside linebacker Krys Barnes, among others, and you realize the tall task that awaits the Packers’ front office.

Like it did last offseason, the Packers might also have to restructure or move on from the contracts of veteran players, like outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, offensive lineman David Bakhtiari, defensive lineman Kenny Clark, receiver Randall Cobb, kicker Mason Crosby and safeties Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage.

The more you dig into things, the more you realize that running it back with this particular roster — what the Pack essentially attempted this season — is going to be practically impossible.

That means “The Last Dance” that Rodgers and Adams mentioned before the season is going to be the case, even if those two are back in Green Bay next season.

While the Packers’ title aspirations and outlook won’t be completely decimated after the season, it’s likely to take a hit, which puts a little extra pressure on the team in this postseason run.

By earning the NFC’s top seed with a 13-4 record, the Packers boosted their Super Bowl hopes a bit.

Now their goal is to avoid a repeat of last year, when the team also had the No. 1 seed but fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game — a game that’s tripped the Packers up four times since their last Super Bowl win in the 2010-11 season.

Those two teams appear destined for a rematch in this year’s conference championship, but first the Packers will have to take care of business in the Divisional Round.

Should the Eagles shock the world and pull off an upset win over the Buccaneers, they would travel to Green Bay for the Divisional Round game. If they don’t then there’s three teams that the Packers could face.

The first would be the San Francisco 49ers, a team that Green Bay defeated early in the season but that could pose some big problems with its stellar running game. If the 49ers lose to the Dallas Cowboys, then the winner of the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams game will head to Lambeau Field.

Green Bay also beat those two teams during the regular season. In fact, of the Packers’ losses this season, only one of those teams is in the playoffs — the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC bracket.

The road to the Super Bowl definitely won’t be a cakewalk, but it’s one that Packers’ fans need to try and enjoy as best they can with the team’s future so up in the air.