Analyzing impact of retirement -- and the prospects of a comeback
Brett Favre's retirement raises a number of questions. John Clayton provides the answers.
Though the word from Favre seemed definitive, a lot of questions remain unanswered. Briefly, let's answer those questions.
Question: Will Favre change his mind?
Answer: It's doubtful, but you never say never.Though he retired, he still believes there is a year or two of football left in him. Had the Packers somehow been able to land Randy Moss in free agency, Favre probably would be back for at least one more season. If asked, he might have committed for two or three years knowing Moss would be on the roster with him. Remember, Favre's agent and Moss' agent are in the same firm. It's not that Favre doubted the receiving corps in Green Bay, but he saw what Moss did for the Patriots. With Tom Brady throwing to Moss, the Patriots had the greatest offensive season in NFL history. Favre thinks in terms of Super Bowls, and if one more weapon would have put the Packers over the top, he wanted that weapon.
Question: What happens next for Favre?
Answer: The Packers will put him on a retired-reserve list at some point. By doing that, they will save $11.2 million of salary-cap room, giving them $35 million of space. Favre is under contract with the Packers through 2010.
On the reserve-retired list, Favre remains property of the Packers. Even though he's off the Packers' active roster, he is not free to move to another team. The situation is no different than Jake Plummer's a year ago with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Plummer decided to retire instead of playing for the Bucs (who had acquired his rights from the Denver Broncos), but he wasn't free to play for any other team. Favre has the option to file his retirement papers at anytime to collect benefits. He is walking away from a $12 million salary.
Question: So why did he retire?
Answer: Favre was devastated by the Packers' NFC Championship Game loss to the New York Giants. He didn't play well. The Packers didn't play well.
Favre is motivated by the dream of getting back to the Super Bowl. Last year turned out to be the best chance for him to realize that dream, even though most people thought going into the season that the Packers would be about a .500 team.
Favre might be a dreamer to some degree, but he's a realist. He knows it's going to be hard for the Packers to win 13 games again this year even if he returns. He knows the odds of the Packers' playing host to an NFC Championship Game again were against him. To go all the way to the Super Bowl, if they made the playoffs, the Packers likely would have to do it on the road, and that is always a tough challenge.
As Michael Strahan indicated during his training camp holdout last season, it's hard for any veteran to go through the mental drain of a training camp. It's harder to endure the aches and pains of a regular season. Favre isn't motivated by money. He's motivated by winning. Though he has confidence in the Packers, he felt he couldn't make the sacrifices necessary to go through another season.
Question: What would push Favre to reconsider?
Answer: The Packers have to be delicate about this subject. Management has to treat him with kid gloves so that his competitive juices aren't stirred if another team with a chance at a title is interested. Another team probably would have to negotiate some kind of a trade to get Favre back in the league, because the Packers have his rights through 2010.
Any bad word about him could re-motivate him because he knows he can play at a championship level for another year or two. Advice to management: Don't take any shots at Favre. Packers management is filled with good people, so it's doubtful anything bad will be said about him.
In Green Bay, though, the fans love the Packers and they love Favre more than management. He could put a lot of pressure on management if he decides to come back and the Packers aren't receptive to a trade. Still, I don't think that is going to happen.
Most of the Super Bowl contenders have quarterbacks. There may be only a 1 percent chance of his changing his mind.
Question: What's next for the Packers?
Answer: Aaron Rodgers is better than some people think.
He manages the huddle well. He makes all the throws. Still, it's going to be hard for Rodgers to have the down-the-field success Favre had. Favre is a Hall of Fame quarterback; good quarterbacks can't put up the numbers of a Hall of Fame quarterback.
General manager Ted Thompson has to figure out whether he wants to draft a backup quarterback or sign a veteran. A veteran would probably be a better idea because Rodgers is young and inexperienced. Plus, Rodgers has been injured. Under Favre, the Packers annually had a chance to be a 10- to 13-game winner because of his talents. The best-case scenario under Rodgers is maybe a 10-win season, which isn't bad when you think about it.Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com..
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BRETT FAVRE SAGA: OVER
After pushing and pushing to keep playing either in Green Bay or elsewhere, Brett Favre's storied career will continue in 2008. The unretired quarterback has been traded by the Packers to the Jets.
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