The Green Bay Packers are not interested in trading Aaron Rodgers and have insisted they are”optimistic” about his future with the team, but it sounds as if the three-time NFL MVP is already saying his goodbyes behind the scenes.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter — who broke the bombshell news Thursday that Rodgers had told members of the Packers organization he did not plan on returning to Green Bay — added more context to the situation on Friday when he reported that Rodgers has told some of his teammates he won’t return in 2021.
“It’s legitimate,” Schefter said Friday on ESPN. “He’s told some teammates and some players within the team that he doesn’t plan to return. Now, whether he follows up on that, we’ll see how the summer unfolds. We’ll see if that changes. But that’s what he feels.”
The latest Packers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Packers newsletter here!
Is Rodgers Committed to Packers Split?
For Packers fans trying to keep up with all the rumors that have unspooled about Rodgers over the last 24 hours, Schefter’s latest report is certainly troubling new information. It would be one thing if Rodgers was telling executives like team president Mark Murphy or general manager Brian Gutekunst that he was done, but going as far as to contact specific teammates and tell them he plans to leave on the hush seems like a step that wouldn’t be taken unless he was committed to his choice.
Of course, nobody in the public has spoken with the man himself just yet. Rodgers could step in front of a microphone at the Kentucky Derby on Saturday and completely rebuff all the reports about his unhappiness. Or he could make the situation even direr than it already is for the Packers. Gutekunst was willing to shoot down a few specific rumors on Thursday night, but he did not directly deny that Rodgers wanted out or that he was unhappy with the team.
“I think you’ve got to keep in mind how much we want Aaron to be here and how important he is to our organization,” Gutekunst said, adding he is optimistic Rodgers and the Packers will remain together moving forward.
Packers Have Tried to Extend Rodgers
Another telling piece of information from Schefter’s reports is that the Packers offered Rodgers a contract extension — something that would seemingly give him the long-term security he desires from the franchise — and he chose to turn them down. If accurate, that would suggest Rodgers’ mindset has massively shifted from a year ago when he simply wanted a deeper commitment from the Packers.
Rodgers has three more years left on his contract and would be leaving about $23 million on the table if he decided to retire before the start of the 2021 season. According to Over The Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald, he would also have to pay back his $6.8 million roster bonus if he held out of training camp, which would additionally incur fines.
Trading Rodgers right away would cost the Packers $38.356 million against the salary cap this year, but they could also split the cost ($21.15 million in 2021 and $17.2 million in 2022) if they wait and trade him after June 1. The Packers might also call Rodgers’ bluff and wait until training camp to see if he budges from his stance.