Aaron Rodgers’ reported trade demands not only put pressure on the Green Bay Packers, but also the league schedule makers.
The NFL released its schedule last week, with the Packers garnering five primetime games during the 2021 season — as well as the first four games on four different networks — despite the uncertainty surrounding Rodgers’ future.
Howard Katz, the NFL’s senior vice president of broadcasting, recently told NBC Sports’ Peter King that the Rodgers drama had them “a little nervous” and that he had to make a few calls himself to get some inside info, but gained little clarity.
Two of the Packers’ five primetime games are on NBC — Week 14 against the Bears and Week 17 against the Vikings — both of which are late enough in the season where they could be flexed out, if necessary.
Week 8 is a Thursday Night Football game against the Cardinals — every team must play a Thursday night game.
In essence, it is two primetime games early in the season — Monday Night Football Week 2 against the Lions and Sunday Night Football Week 3 against the 49ers.
But the Packers also play in the second game of the FOX and CBS doubleheaders in Weeks 1 and 4 — against the Saints and Steelers, respectively — and play Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs Week 9 at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX.
If Rodgers is not part of the team, those games certainly lose their allure, but Katz said they ultimately had to work with what they know.
“The Green Bay Packers are still the Green Bay Packers, with or without Aaron Rodgers,” Katz told King. “They’re a great team and a great brand. We started to think about some of the permutations of the schedule. Ultimately, when he didn’t get traded, we couldn’t solve for something we didn’t know. It was pretty deliberate the way we maxed out the Packers early in the season. You’re right that each of the networks has their bite at the Packers in the first month. That was deliberate.”