By: Reese Nasser
The 2013 season was historic for Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning tossed an NFL record 55 passing touchdowns, surpassing Tom Brady’s record of 50 set in 2007 . The record has stood strong since then. Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has come the closest as he tied Brady for second place when he threw 50 touchdowns in 2018.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers currently sits at tied for 5th on the touchdown record list. Last season, the veteran QB tossed 48 touchdowns on his way to the MVP award. This touchdown explosion caught many people off guard due to Rodgers only throwing for 26 and 25 in the two seasons prior. With recent speculation that Rodgers may find his way to Denver, much like Manning did near the end of his career, there is curiosity around what he would look like in Denver’s offense. Is there a chance that he could break Manning’s record of 55 touchdowns?
Rodgers in 2020
If Rodgers’ performance in 2020 is any sign of what is to come in 2021, then Manning’s record will at least be at risk. During last season, the 2020 NFL MVP played like a man on a mission, literally putting the entire team on his back at points. The Packers receiving core, outside of Davante Adams, was below average. Adams caught 18 touchdowns and has proven to be Rodgers favorite receiver for some time now.
Tight end Robert Tanyan was the only other bright spot. Adams and Tonyan accounted for 29 touchdowns. Tonyan managed to haul in eleven touchdowns, with three of those coming in one game.
Rodgers 48 passing touchdowns were no easy achievement and took him playing at a level that he hasn’t been at in some time.
Broncos Receiving Core
Aaron Rodgers has shown time and time again that he can make magic happen with nearly anyone on his team. All he needs is one consistent receiver to rely on and he will be alright. The Broncos receiving core is deeper than what Rodgers is currently working with in Green Bay. While there is no star receiver like Davante Adams just yet, the young options on the roster may get to that level one day.
Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy accounted for only three touchdowns and 856 yards in his rookie year but the potential for growth is clear. The former 15th overall pick showed promise, but there were issues with drops that impacted his season.
Cortland Sutton has proven to be the #1 option on this roster at receiver. While only appearing in one game this past season due to a torn ACL, Sutton played at a high level in 2019 and was voted to the pro bowl. In his last healthy season, Sutton gained over 1,110 yards receiving and caught six touchdowns.
The Broncos also have second-year receiver KJ Hamler and third-year tight end Noah Fant on the roster. Both caught three touchdown passes each. The depth that the Broncos have is far different than what Rodgers has dealt with in Green Bay. With options like this to throw to, he could be in for another MVP type season.
Chip on His Shoulder
Aaron Rodgers has always played as if he has a chip on his shoulder. This off-season, that chip has apparently gotten bigger. With longtime issues between Rodgers and the Packers apparently reaching a new point, Rodgers will have a point to prove if he is indeed traded. Rodgers has proven time and time again that he belongs in the conversation as one of the best QB’s to ever play the game.
Yet even with his outstanding play, in recent years it has seemed like the Packers don’t want to surround him with weapons. So if he is able to get to a team that has established options, he may want to show the Packers what he could have done if they had given him what he wanted.
While Manning’s record has stood safe for almost a decade, this may be the year that that changes. Rodgers to the Broncos is only speculation at this point and it may never happen, but if it does, that record may just fall. Rodgers is a dangerous man on the football field, and given actual weapons, he will be able to do whatever he wants.