Aaron Rodgers is back in Green Bay and ready to lead the Packers into the 2021 season as their starting quarterback, but don’t assume his return to action means things are all peachy again between him and the organization.
In his first interview with Packers media since the Jan. 24’s postgame of the NFC Championship Game, Rodgers spoke candidly on Wednesday about his issues with the organization that bubbled to the surface early in the offseason and resulted in a standoff between franchise and franchise quarterback over the past several months.
Rodgers spoke for nearly 32 minutes and shared quite a bit of information that had been either unknown or unconfirmed to this point, including a chronological recounting of his negotiations with the Packers and what had guided him to hold out of the team’s entire offseason program.
One specific thing that stood out, though, was that Rodgers said the Packers made him feel like he would not be part of the plan beyond 2021 and refused to commit to him past the upcoming season, despite him winning his third MVP just six months ago.
Here’s what Rodgers said Wednesday about the Packers’ lack of commitment:
There wasn’t a commitment past 2021. There were conversations … about moving salary around through a restructure to open up some cap space for sure. Obviously, with the salary cap going down from the 190s to 182, I think everybody’s contract who had a contract got restructured in some way. It was more just the approach, to not mention anything past 2021 made me feel like I wasn’t in the future plans, which again I get it. It’s a business. I’m not a victim here. I’ve made a ton of money here and I’ve been really fortunate to play a long time and to play here. At the same time, I’m still competitive and I still feel like I can play. So, I felt like making a commitment past the 2021 season was not a big deal and there are ways to do that that weren’t necessarily accomplished, so that’s why we’re here.
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Rodgers’ Confirms Key Parts of Schefter’s Story
Rodgers’ unhappiness with the Packers has been one of the NFL’s most talked-about storylines since the hours after Green Bay was knocked out of the 2020 playoffs in the conference championship. Following the loss, the 37-year-old quarterback gave a distinctly somber postgame interview that focused much on the uncertainties of the future, causing some fans and media to wonder whether it was Rodgers’ unofficial way of saying goodbye to the franchise.
Most of that concern died down until the first night of the 2021 NFL draft when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Rodgers was in a frame of mind where he was no longer interested in returning to the Packers, a significant bombshell that cast a long shadow over just about everything else the team did throughout the offseason.
Nearly three months later, we now know that crucial parts of Schefter’s story were accurate. Rodgers disclosed Wednesday he was seriously considering not returning to the Packers, even exploring the possibility of retiring from the NFL. Rodgers also said at one point he tried to force the team to make their transition decision now rather than make him a “lame-duck quarterback” for 2021 with a probable exit in 2022.
“If I’m not part of the future, then instead of making me a lame-duck quarterback, if you want to make a change and go forward, go ahead and do that,” Rodgers said he told the organization. “That obviously didn’t happen.”
Rodgers also once again reaffirmed that the Packers’ decision to trade up and draft his “replacement” in Love without so much as a warning “kind of put things in motion,” as Schefter noted in his original story. Rodgers, however, has been clear he holds nothing against Love for a situation he also has no control over and even seems to like him, given how he has spoken about him in the past.