Aaron Rodgers seems to have issued his demands to the Green Bay Packers.
According to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, Rodgers has made it clear to the Packers he is unwilling to return if Brian Gutekunst remains the general manager, adding another wrinkle to the ongoing conflict between the reigning NFL MVP and his team of the past 16 seasons.
Robinson’s source — which he identified as someone in Rodgers’ camp — also said it “may not be possible” for the two sides to fix their fractured relationship if Gutekunst remains with the Packers, adding that “the ball is in Mark’s court” in regards to team president Mark Murphy. There has been no official comment yet from Rodgers.
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Conflict Originates With Jordan Love Pick
The conflict between Gutekunst and Rodgers, based on Robinson’s report, largely ties back to the Packers trading up for quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft without giving Rodgers a heads-up about the decision. Rodgers was convinced afterward that Gutekunst planned to move on from him after the 2020 season, but then he dominated the league with an MVP season and changed his approach.
“Rodgers’ response, according to the source, was he presented the Packers with an opportunity to re-commit to him after the season with a new contract (with new guaranteed money) that would ultimately cement Green Bay’s “all-in” embrace of him as the starting quarterback for at least the next two seasons. The source said the Packers were not initially willing to consider anything beyond a modest restructure of Rodgers’ contract that would have done little more than guarantee the 2021 season.”
Robinson also noted Rodgers’ situation with the Packers could “easily play out” the way things did with Carson Palmer and the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011 if he is dug in on his decision not to return. Palmer demanded a trade after a fruitless first eight seasons with the Bengals and, when they refused, opted to retire and accept the penalties until they obliged him. The Bengals held out until the quarterback-needy Raiders came calling in October and finally dealt Palmer, who spent two years in Oakland before spending his final five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.
Rodgers’ current agent, David Dunn, is the man who helped orchestrate that move for Palmer.
The first opportunity for Rodgers to show he is committed to not returning to Green Bay will be in June when mandatory team activities begin.
Packers Acknowledge Rodgers’ Concerns
There has been hesitancy from Packer Nation to put much stock in the reports about Rodgers’ unhappiness. ESPN’s Adam Schefter, a credible reporter and a national source for NFL information, reported the story on April 29 and broke the news on Twitter, prompting backlash from some fans who accused him of “lying” and tweeting “clickbait.”
Clearly the idea that Green Bay’s future Hall of Fame quarterback might never play in green and gold again is a tough pill for fans to swallow, especially before anything has been officially done.
The Packers have denied some of the reports. They did not receive a trade offer from the San Francisco 49ers, nor were the Denver Broncos ever close to landing him in a draft-night trade. They have also said they have no intention of trading Rodgers. Unfortunately, Murphy also admitted there is some truth to the conflict between the team and their franchise quarterback when he addressed the subject in his monthly column for Packers.com:
The day started with the report that Aaron Rodgers is upset with the Packers and doesn’t want to return to the team. When a report like that involves the reigning MVP, it is obviously a huge story, and it dominated the sports news for most of the day. This is an issue that we have been working on for several months. Brian Gutekunst, Matt LaFleur and I have flown out on a number of occasions to meet with Aaron. We are very much aware of Aaron’s concerns and have been working with him (and his agent Dave Dunn) to resolve them. We remain committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond. He is not only a tremendously talented player, but has developed into a true leader for us. The relationship that Aaron has forged with Matt and the other offensive coaches has propelled us to the brink of the Super Bowl in two straight years. We look forward to competing for another Super Bowl championship with Aaron as our leader.