Matt LaFleur insisted to a Zoom call full of reporters on Saturday night he hasn’t allowed himself to consider a future where Aaron Rodgers is not the Green Bay Packers starting quarterback, but that possibility was tough for him to avoid in the immediate aftermath of the 2021 NFL draft.
LaFleur spent the majority of his 21-minute press conference answering questions — as much as he could — about Thursday’s bombshell report that Rodgers, the league’s reigning MVP, has told some members of the organization he does not plan on returning to the team next season.
Dozens of different reports with varying degrees of accuracy have since emerged about the situation, and LaFleur couldn’t deny all of them. After all, Packers team president Mark Murphy had already confirmed earlier that day that Rodgers’ reluctance to return to the Packers is “an issue that we have been working on for several months.”
If there was any question of where LaFleur falls on the situation, he made it unequivocally clear how he feels about Rodgers as his starting quarterback.
“This guy is our quarterback,” LaFleur said in response to his first question on Saturday night. “He’s the leader of our team and I want nothing more than to see him back in a Packers uniform. We’ve been able to accomplish a lot of feats over the last two years, two straight NFC Championship Games. I know the seasons haven’t ended the way we wanted them to, but in my eyes, he’s the greatest to ever do it. I don’t care about (his) Super Bowls or whatnot, but we want him back here.”
The latest Packers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Packers newsletter here!
LaFleur Deflects on Possibly Rodgers Departure
Even if reporters have got to ask their questions, LaFleur was never going to be in a great position to comment on whether his star quarterback will be returning to the team for the 2021 season. Some even asked about whether he feels powerless in the situation that has been depicted to be between star player and general manager, to which he repeated one of his favorite lines of “focusing on what we can control.”
At the end of the day, though, the possibility still remains that the Packers will not have Rodgers as their starting quarterback when the new season begins in September.
“Yeah, I know,” LaFleur said. “I can’t even take my brain to that spot right now. I just want to do everything in my power to ensure that doesn’t happen.”
He later added: “I can’t fathom (him) not being in Green Bay, so that’s where my mind is at. I don’t only love the player, but I love the person. I love working with him on a daily basis. I think we all do, from the players in that locker room to the coaching staff. Again, I don’t want to even allow my mind to go there.”
Can Packers Resolve Aaron Rodgers Situation?
Rodgers has not spoken publicly about his reported unhappiness with the Packers other than telling a reporter at Saturday’s Kentucky Derby that he was “disappointed” the news came out. Until he does, there is only so much that outsiders can truly believe regardless of what sources are telling NFL insiders.
When LaFleur was asked about whether his conversations with Rodgers this offseason have led him to feel hopeful or optimistic about his return in 2021, though, the third-year Packers head coach wasn’t able to give as confident of an answer as fans might like.
“Well, I’ll always remain hopeful and optimistic and certainly will always welcome him back with open arms,” LaFleur said. “He knows exactly how not only myself but our staff and our players feel about him. Like I said before, I just can’t imagine him not being in a Green Bay Packer uniform.”