Questions have begun swirling this offseason about how much longer Aaron Rodgers will be playing under center for the Green Bay Packers, but one of his teammates is convinced his star quarterback won’t be stepping away from the game anytime soon.
When asked whether the end of Rodgers’ playing career is on the horizon, Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith quickly shot down the notion of the two-time MVP quarterback retiring in the near future and promised Rodgers will be terrorizing NFL passing defenses for “another 10 years,” according to TMZ Sports.
“I left weights with him, he’s still legit,” Smith said during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. “I promise you he can (play 10 more years).”
Rodgers will turn 37 next December and isn’t coming off his strongest statistical season despite the Packers coming within one win of a trip to the Super Bowl. He is also now one year older than Brett Favre was when the Packers drafted Rodgers to be his successor with some speculating history could repeat itself in the next few drafts for the right quarterback prospect. But Rodgers has also said he wants to play at least until he turns 40 and is signed to a contract that will keep him in Green Bay through the 2023 season, which will help him just reach that milestone.
While there were valid criticisms of his game during the 2019 season, Rodgers is also still playing well within the capabilities of a starting quarterback. He threw a league-low four interceptions — his second-best mark in 12 seasons as a starter — and turned in some excellent performances that heaved the Packers to victory, including game-winning drives against Kansas City and twice against Detroit.
“I don’t know his age, but I know he’s an OG in the game, and he’s legendary,” Smith said.”
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Beat Writer Warns Rodgers Playing on Final Packers Contract
Smith’s confidence in Rodgers speaks volumes to some of the work that goes unseen behind the scenes, especially in terms of workouts between teammates, but he would likely need to take a step or two back toward his prime to get a new deal when his current one expires in 2024.
The Packers won’t need to make a decision on Rodgers until at least after the 2021 season, at which point there is a potential out with his contract — not that they would be likely to act on it. But The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman argued Rodgers’ current contract is probably his last one in Green Bay.
Per Schneidman via The Athletic.
“I do think this is Rodgers’ last contract with the Packers. Four more seasons would put him at age 40 after the 2023 season and while he wants to play slightly past that, I just don’t see him taking a team-friendly two-year deal or something like that, especially after how well the Favre-to-Rodgers transition worked and the presumption that the Packers would rather a second- or third-year quarterback instead of a washed-up 41- or 42-year-old Rodgers clinging on for dear life. Now, we may see a rejuvenated Rodgers next season if the Packers surround him with better weapons, but I don’t think even that would change their plans at quarterback. It’s certainly too early to draft Rodgers’ successor in April, in my opinion, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they used a first-round pick on a quarterback next year.”
The transition away from Rodgers is inevitable, but Schneidman is right when he says the Packers are probably about a year away from having serious discussions about the future of the position. Right now, the primary focus should be on acquiring new weapons for Rodgers to use during his second year in the system. The breakout of Aaron Jones was a welcomed boost, but the Packers never found a consistent receiver to pair with star Davante Adams with wideouts and tight ends alike underachieving in the passing game.
“?I think he’s still one of the most talented players out there,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said in January during his end-of-year press conference. “I think it totally depends on how long his body holds up. I know he seemed energized all season long. His mind is as sharp as they come. It’s just his body holding up. And I think he does an excellent job. He’s a true professional, he knows his body and he does a great job of taking care of his body.”