Edwards told Empire Magazine that the words “Rogue One” do refer to a “military callsign to some extent” but there’s also a larger philosophical, meta-fictional meaning: “… [It’s the] first film that’s gone off-piste and is not part of the saga – or the Anakin story.” Edwards added, “so it’s the ‘rogue’ one, you know?”
In the old Star Wars canon the word “Rogue” was almost exclusively associated with “Rogue Squadron” an elite group of fighter pilots originating with “Red Squadron,” the group responsible for blowing up the first Death Star in the original movie. Prior to the classification of the older Star Wars “Expanded Universe” into “Legends,” several comic books and novels (most written by Michael Stackpole) detailed the history and exploits of the squadron. And so, when the title for Rogue One was announced back in 2015, many fans —including Michael Stackpole — erroneously assumed the new film would be about Wedge Antilles and his fighter pilots.
In some ways, Edwards’s comments on the title can be read as a confirmation that there’s a connection between this film and the “Rouge Squadron” of old. But in a sense, it also reads a bit like he’s distancing his new film from that heritage. In the current “real” Star Wars canon, Rogue Squadron certainly still exists, since Luke refers to his gang of snowspeeder pilots as “Rogue Group” in The Empire Strikes Back. And right now Rogue One making that connection certainly seems more likely than not. Just don’t expect any specific shout-outs to those old Stackpole books anytime soon.