Much was made of Rodgers’ postgame talk with reporters following Sunday’s 31-26 home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC championship game, particularly when the veteran quarterback took an unprompted look at the future for both himself and his Packers teammates. He used words like “finality” and “uncertainties,” speaking with a somber tone that led some to speculate whether he would return as the Packers’ quarterback in 2021.
No such things concern Favre as the NFL Hall of Fame quarterback explained Monday on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Here’s what Favre said about Rodgers’ comments:
“I wouldn’t pay much attention to it. I think frustration, disappointment, hurt, pain, all were in that soundbite. Look, there’s no way the Packers would do anything to jeopardize losing Aaron unless Aaron just chooses to retire, which I would be shocked. The guy’s playing better now than he’s ever played, and without him, you certainly wouldn’t have been even close to where you were yesterday. And I think the same will go for next year, and really the next few years if he chooses to play. I wouldn’t pay much attention to what he said. I’ve been there, it hurts.”
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Favre: Packers Would Be ‘Foolish’ to Ditch Rodgers
Favre experienced his fair share of high-stakes losses throughout his NFL career and thus knows better than to look too closely at an emotional postgame press conference. From the sounds of it, though, Rodgers could have screamed about the end times and Favre might have still believed in his long-term future with the Packers.
Rodgers played one of the best seasons of his 13-year starting career in 2020, throwing a career-best 48 touchdown passes and finishing with the league’s best completion percentage (70.7) and passer rating (121.5). He is also expected to win a third career MVP when the season awards are announced on Feb. 6, which leaves little doubt about his ability to continue playing at a high level for years to come.
“There’s no reason to think Aaron would not play the same way (in 2021 as) he played this year ’cause he tends to do it year in and year out,” Favre said. “And I think for the Packers, more so with them, you would be foolish to make any move other than to bring him back and going as long as he wants to go.”
Rodgers’ Cap Situation Makes Separation Unlikely in 2021
Not for nothing, Rodgers did share his thoughts on the future without reporters prying it out of him. Nobody asked whether he intended to leave the Packers or tried to get him to talk about the first-rounder Jordan Love. Rodgers wondered about the future all on his own while trying to put into words why the 2020 team was so special to him.
“There’s a lot of guys’ futures where they are uncertain, myself included, that’s what’s sad about it most,” Rodgers told reporters on Sunday night. “Getting this far, obviously, there’s going to be an end to it at some point, whether we make it past this one or not, but just the uncertainties is tough and the finality of it all.”
The finality of it all, however, is likely a reference to the team itself — the squad that won the No. 1 seed in the NFC and allowed Rodgers to play an NFC championship game at Lambeau Field — rather than a prediction about his immediate future. After all, Rodgers is still under contract with the team through the 2023 season and doesn’t present an easy out financially until 2022 at the absolute earliest.
According to Spotrac, Rodgers is set to carry a $37.57 million cap hit for the 2021 season but would still carry a hefty dead-cap number of $31.56 million if the Packers opted to move on from him, creating only about $6 million in savings. There are ways a trade could shift around some of the money, as could another contract restructure, but there are far more sensible paths to separation if they wait until 2022 or 2023.
The Packers are presented with a much more affordable avenue in 2022 when Rodgers’ cap hit climbs to $39.85 million and his dead cap drops to $17.2 million. They will have spent two years developing Love by then and should have a clearer picture of whether he can take the reins as their franchise’s starting quarterback, giving him two seasons left to play under his rookie deal.
If Love needs more time, the Packers could always wait until 2023 when cutting Rodgers would save them about $25.5 million in cap space. This, of course, is all assuming the Packers will not change their mind and find ways to recommit to Rodgers in the coming months and years.