Packers QB Aaron Rodgers Makes Bold Prediction on End of Career

Getty QB Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers calls for a two point conversion after a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during a game at Lambeau Field on November 17, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn’t sound like a man on the brink of retirement.

Rodgers stepped to a microphone mere minutes after his season ended and was already facing questions of whether he would return to Green Bay in 2023, or to football at all. As has been his modus operandi with the media all year, Rodgers was non-committal but entertained all of his options thoroughly and aloud in the public format.

He explored retirement, referenced the youthfulness (aka inexperience) of the roster, shouted out names of veterans whose choices might affect his own and when it was all over, questions hadn’t been answered so much as they’d been multiplied.

Then Rodgers appeared on the Tuesday, January 17 edition of The Pat McAfee Show and answered at least one big question, even if that wasn’t his express intention.

“I came back and really wanted to finish my career in Green Bay,” Rodgers said. “In 2019, we were feeling each other out on offense and our defense played pretty damn good. A lot of people said I was washed, couldn’t really play anymore, wasn’t the same, and then I won two MVPs in a row without really doing anything different.”

“I’m sure there’s a lot of the same sentiment this year,” Rodgers continued. “Do I still think I can play? Of course, of course. Can I play at a high level? Yeah, the highest. I think I can win MVP again in the right situation.”

Rodgers Applying Public Pressure to Packers, Holds Off on Making Playing Decision

Bakhtiari Contract Extension

GettyLeft tackle David Bakhtiari and quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers celebrate a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field on November 15, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The 39-year-old quarterback didn’t just sound supremely confident in his abilities to continue dominating the sport nearly two decades into his career, he sounded like a man indignant at the notion that he couldn’t and ready to respond heartily to such a slanderous challenge.

But what uniform Rodgers might wear while engaged in said responding was a question he left wide open.

“The right situation, is that Green Bay or somewhere else? I’m not sure. But I don’t think you should shut down any opportunity,” Rodgers told McAfee. “Like I said during the season, it’s gotta be both sides actually wanting to work together moving forward. I think there’s more conversations to be had. I think no player wants to be part of any type of rebuild. I said that years ago. Reloads are a lot of fun because you feel like you’re close, you’re only a couple of guys away.”

Rodgers continued, using the platform to put pressure on the organization and stump for the veterans most likely to facilitate his return to the Packers locker room.

This game is about relationships. It’s about the players you play with and count on even if they don’t maybe show up huge in the stat book. A guy like Marcedes Lewis, he’s an important cog in the wheel of the locker room and the momentum of the team. That’s a guy I want to finish my career with. If I’m playing, I want that guy next to me.

I want the Randall Cobbs of the world, if he wants to be playing, in my locker room — guys you can win with. Allen Lazard, [Robert] Tonyan, David Bakhtiari: there’s a lot of interesting names that we’ll see [Green Bay’s] desire to re-sign these certain guys who are glue guys in the locker room. There will be an interesting conversation to be had.

Rodgers Asking Packers For Too Much, as QB Maneuvers Toward Return on His Terms

Aaron Rodgers Packers

GettyWide receiver Randall Cobb (left) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (right) of the Green Bay Packers walk off of Lambeau Field after a loss to the Detroit Lions on January 8, 2023.

In some ways, Rodgers is being unfair — asking for his cake and eating it, too. He has notably mentioned how young the Packers’ roster is in places, specifically the wideout group headed up by the likes of Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. But adding a top-end veteran to the receiver room will be difficult to justify if the Packers pay both Cobb and Lazard to return in free agency, especially when Lazard will be seeking a lucrative and long-term second contract.

Green Bay is in position to potentially select Michael Mayer of Notre Dame, the top-rated tight end in the 2023 NFL draft class with the No. 15 overall pick. Paying a tight end mid-first round money will be hard enough on the team’s salary cap, but will probably prove untenable if the Packers decide to re-sign both Lewis and Tonyan at the position.

And while Bakhtiari has been great when he’s been healthy, he hasn’t been truly healthy in nearly two and a half years. Furthermore, the left tackle will turn 32 a month into next regular season. With two years remaining on his deal, Bakhtiari is scheduled to cost Green Bay $29 million against the salary cap next season.

Rodgers’ tactics aren’t entirely unlike the threat of retirement he leveled ahead of the 2022 regular season, which helped land him a three-year contract worth nearly $151 million. But once he signed the deal, it became bad form for the QB to complain about the team not spending enough money around him.

The nearly $60 million the quarterback is scheduled to make next year may be the biggest reason for Rodgers to stave off retirement for at least 18 more games, though he didn’t even technically do that on Tuesday — even if his return was strongly implied elsewhere in his comments.

“Take all of that way, I still need to mentally get to a point where I feel 100% locked in and ready to play a 19th season,” Rodgers said. “If I do, we’ll rock and roll and figure that out. If I don’t, then we’ll go into the jungles for awhile.”

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