Aaron Rodgers was not happy with the release of former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jake Kumerow, and that was evident after the reigning MVP broke his silence after months away from the team. Rodgers reported to training camp on July 27 and spoke to the media the following day in what was one of the most candid and revealing press conferences in recent memory.
When listing the reasons for his much-publicized displeasure with the team, the way Green Bay handled Kumerow’s exit was high up there.
“If you’re going to cut a guy who was our second-best wide receiver in training camp last year, maybe run it by me,” Rodgers said in reference to Kumerow, via ESPN’s Jeff Darlington.
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Rodgers & Kumerow Had Solid Chemistry on the Field
An undrafted free agent out of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Kumerow spent the 2017 season on the Packers’ practice squad before getting moved up to the active roster the following season, when he began to develop a connection with Rodgers. He played in five games in 2018, starting two, and his playing time increased in 2019.
Kumerow played in 14 games in 2019, starting four. He caught 12 passes for 219 yards (18.3 yards per catch) and a touchdown, but the Packers released him the following year, just a day after Rodgers said this about the 29-year-old wideout:
“Jake Kumerow has been such a solid performer for us the last couple of years,” Rodgers said about Kumerow, via Buffalo Bills beat writer Ryan Talbot. “I love his reliability. I think he’s a fantastic, steady player who’s very heady on the field. He makes plays, he plays with a lot of confidence and he’s a guy you love having on the squad.”
Kumerow was picked up by the Bills shortly after his release from Green Bay.
“This is crazy, but it does seem like the one thing that drove Rodgers nuts was when the organization released Jake Kumerow just a day after he praised him publicly, described as a little bit of a ‘death knell’ in the relationship,” NFL insider Ian Rapoport said about the situation on May 3. Kumerow’s exit clearly wasn’t the last straw for Rodgers, but it’s obvious it bothered him a great deal.
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Did Rodgers Throw His Receivers ‘Under the Bus?’
Several analysts noted that while it was clear Rodgers meant to compliment Kumerow, by doing so, he also left his current No. 2 and No. 3, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, out of the equation.
It may not be a huge issue, but calling a player no longer on the roster the “second-best” receiver during a time a few of your current wideouts had better numbers (both Lazard and Valdes-Scantling had over twice the receiving yards Kumerow did in 2019) — that may not sit well with the guys still catching the passes from Rodgers. Peter Bukowski of SB Nation had the harshest take, tweeting Rodgers threw Lazard and MVS “under the bus” with the Kumerow comment, but he wasn’t alone in his line of thinking:
It may not be a huge issue, but it says a lot that Rodgers viewed Kumerow as his No. 2 when MVS and Lazard were also competing for those roles. The Packers QB was clearly not trying to insult his current wide receivers, but as Bukowski points out, hard feelings are indeed possible.