Sometimes, a little public reaffirmation goes a long way.
Green Bay Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy had an opportunity last week to double down on Aaron Rodgers as the team’s future for the next several years, and he didn’t do it. The Packers have yet to convert Rodgers’ $14.7 million base salary into a signing bonus, which would free up cap space for the upcoming season, but would also increase the dead cap hit next year if he were to decide to play elsewhere. Converting his salary in such a way would be a good sign the Pack are planning on rolling with the reigning MVP for the foreseeable future, but instead of discussing it, Murphy was mum.
The Green Bay CEO said he couldn’t “really get into specific players,” and wasn’t “going to get into specifics” about anything related to Rodgers’ contract. While Murphy did assure fans in January that Rodgers would be back, the door was wide open for him to reaffirm the future Hall of Fame quarterback’s standing with the team. Instead, he said nothing, and now he’s getting criticized for it.
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Rodgers: ‘All I Can Do is Play My Best’
For his part, the 37-year-old quarterback says he’s going to stay focused on continuing to do what he does. “My future, really, a lot of it is out of my control,” Rodgers said on The Pat McAfee Show this week, via Sports Illustrated. “All I can do is play my best, and I feel like last year I did do that. That may have thrown a wrench into some timelines that may have been thought about or desired but, ultimately, things haven’t really changed on that front.”
Rodgers is referencing, of course, the team’s potential plans for last year’s first-round draft pick Jordan Love. Green Bay’s timeline for making Love the starter remains opaque and vague at best, with the upcoming draft likely to provide a bit more clarity.
In terms of any restructuring or changes to his contract, Rodgers noted there have been no notable changes. “There’s really not a story there,” he said.
Murphy Blasted By Analysts, Former Players
On NFL Live last week, a panel of former players and analysts took turns lambasting Murphy for his lack of public commitment to his starting quarterback. Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety and current ESPN analyst Ryan Clark evoked a musical reference in his criticism of Murphy, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
People like Mark Murphy are the reasons that Destiny Child’s ‘Say my Name’ was a number one hit. Because Mark Murphy refuses to say, ‘Guess what? I want Aaron Rodgers. … The dude that was just MVP. That’s my guy. I want him here for years to come.’ And then, what’s even crazier, sometimes people just lie about it. People say things like ‘Jimmy Garoppolo is our quarterback. Jared Goff is still with the Los Angeles Rams.’ They say these things and the next week they’re not. But Mark Murphy won’t even do that. So that tells me Aaron Rodgers is not necessarily 100% part of the plan going forward.
Your actions are louder than your words. We will know 30 days from today exactly what the Green Bay Packers’ thoughts are when it comes to Aaron Rodgers. That’s the first night of the draft. OK? Because what you’ve done recently when it comes to your draft picks does not tell me that Aaron Rodgers is going to be there long-term. It does not tell me you think Rodgers is going to be a part of the organization for more than one year. You know why? Not a single wide receiver. And last year you chose the future. So I’m going to know 30 days from today exactly how the Green Bay Packers’ front office views Aaron Rodgers’ future in Green Bay. Because if they don’t take a wide receiver or move up to take an impactful front seven player, you’re telling me everything I need to know.
It’s clear Rodgers is nowhere near done, and it’s also clear Green Bay doesn’t want to move on from him just yet. But Orlovsky has a point — what Green Bay does in the upcoming draft matters. A lot. And it will go a long way to determining how long Rodgers will remain the leader of the Pack.
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