Crunch time arrives for former Cal star Aaron Rodgers in just three days, and we still have no idea whether he will show up for the first day of the Packers preseason camp on Tuesday.
Worse, we don’t know whether he will play at all in the 2021 season or whether the Packers might flinch and grant Rodgers’ wish to be traded.
Worst of all, we don’t even know specifically why he no longer wants to play for the Packers and what – if anything – the Packers could do to appease him.
Every stone is being overturned to find any little hint about what Rodgers is thinking, what he might do and how long he will remain adamant that he won’t play in Green Bay.
There has been unsubstantiated speculation that Rodgers might reveal his plans after the Packers' shareholders meeting on Monday, but that is just one guess among many guesses.
And Rodgers and Packers wide receiver Davante Aams poured gasoline on the speculation fire with matching Instagram posts alluding to "The Last Dance," suggesting this season might be the final one playing together. Or maybe it means they have already had their last dance together.
As he has done in recent years, Rodgers went through his typical offseason training regimen with Proactive Sports Performance (PSP), according to ESPN. The Proactive Sports Performance training area is located in Westlake Village, Calif., just northwest of Los Angeles, and the program includes weight-room training, field work, sand-dunes work and yoga. The PSP training sessions lasts about six weeks for NFL athletes and concluded Saturday.
A Proactive Sports Performance representative told ESPN that Rodgers is "working and he's ready" for football.
So Rodgers should be prepared physically if he chooses to attend the Packers' training camp, which opens Tuesday when veterans are required to report, with the first practice scheduled for Wednesday.
However, we don't know whether Rodgers will, in fact, show up for the Green Bay training camp.
At this point we are turning to hints provided by Rodgers’ financee and his fiancee’s mother. Yes, it is getting so desperate that two words on a tweet by Rodgers’ future mother-in-law are being investigated as possible evidence.
Lori Woodley, mother of Rodgers’ fiancee Shailene Woodley, has since deleted a tweet that said “Spoken truth” above a video of Stephen A. Smith’s assessment of why Rodgers wants out of Green Bay.
Shailene Woodley did not comment on the Smith video, but retweeted it, suggesting it is relevant to Rodgers' position:
And who would know Rodgers' inner-most thoughts better than the woman he plans to marry and her mother?
Here is Smith’s commentary, saying Rodgers’ complaints are not about football or money. “This is about how the Green Bay Packers have treated their star player.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who seems as plugged in on the issue as anyone in the media, told Cris Collinsworth a week ago , “I don’t believe that money is at the root of his discontent.” Schefter says it’s about the people and the culture in and around the Packers organization, and it may not be limited to Rodgers’ dissatisfaction with general manager Brian Gutekunst and/or team president Mark Murphy. It’s a feeling that has built up over Rodgers’ 16 years in the Packers organization.
Rodgers reportedly turned down a Packers offer to make him the highest-paid player in the NFL, further suggesting that money will not solve the problem.
Rodgers’ tweet on Tuesday congratulating the Milwaukee Bucks' front office after the Bucks won the NBA title could be interpreted as an backhanded slap in the face to the Packers’ organization, which, it would seem, does not fare well by comparison:
So if football and money are not the problem areas, can the Packers do anything to appease their star?
The questions remain: Will Rodgers show up for preseason camp? Will he play in 2021, and, if he does, will it be with the Packers?
On June 25, Sportsline reportedly provided these odds to the question of whether Rodgers will be the Packers’ starting quarterback in Week 1
Yes: -250, which is 2-to-5 odds or a 71.4 percent probability that he will be with Packers
No: +180, which is 9-to-5 odds or a 34.7 percent chance he won’t be with the Packers.
Only July 2, the Denver Post provided similar odds, based on Fox Bet lines of Rodgers being with the Packers or headed to the second-most likely landing spot, the Denver Broncos:
Rodgers will play for Packers this season: -225 or 4-to-9 odds and 69.2 percent probability
Rodgers will play for Broncos this season: +275 or 11-to-4 odds or 26.7 percent probability.
So the betting public still thinks Rodgers will be playing for the Packers this season.
Players and former players are asked for their opinion on Rodgers’ immediate future. Former Packers linebacker and Rodgers teammate A.J. Hawk said at the end of this video, “I still feel like he’s going to be in Green Bay.”
Peyton Manning said he “can’t fathom” Rodgers not playing this season and “hopes” it is with Green Bay. But he never offered a prediction whether Rodgers would come to training camp or play for the Packers this season.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said in the July 15 video below, “There is a slightly growing sense in some league circles that they predict that Aaron Rodgers will show up eventually.” But former NFL front office executive Mike Tannenbaum said in the same video that he does not expect Rodgers to show up for preseason camp and that the issue will not be settled until two three games into the regular season.
Rob Demovsky, who covers the Packers for ESPN,’ said on the Rich Eisen Show that there is a “decent chance” Rodgers will sit out the 2021 season, and the Packers will trade him after the season.
Demovsky said that more than a month ago, but nothing has changed since then.
Rodgers said back on July 10 that he would “figure things out in a couple weeks,” so presumably he has a plan in mind by now.
What we do know is that Rodgers was the 2020 MVP and remains a precious commodity.
An ESPN survey of NFL players, executives and scouts ranked Rodgers as the NFL’s second-best quarterback, behind Patrick Mahomes, but ahead of Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Josh Allen and the rest.
ESPN experts talk about those rankings in this video, once you get past the initial joking.
The Packers need Rodgers.
An SI Packers Central story in mid-June cited Sports Betting Dime odds on the Packers to win the Super Bowl:
With Aaron Rodgers: +1600, or 16-to-1
Without Aaron Rodgers +12500, or 125-to-1
However, there is one final question: Can all this offseason maneuvering hurt Rodgers’ 2021 production?
In an ESPN assessment of the Packers, Rob Demovsky said the Packers’ quarterback situation is worse now no matter what:
Even if Rodgers returns and makes nice, there’s irreparable damage done. For one, he’s missed an entire offseason of meetings, practices and workouts. He doesn’t need the practice reps but the meeting time is invaluable. Last year, they spent hours meeting (via Zoom) to refine coach Matt LaFleur’s offense, adding what worked and removing what did not. Rodgers wasn’t part of those conversations this year. They’re also worse without [Tim] Boyle, who signed with the Detroit Lions. He and Rodgers developed a close relationship. And if Rodgers doesn’t return, they’re much, much worse.
And if Rodgers is traded, can he get up to speed on that team's offense in time to be as effective as he was in 2020? One of the reasons Manning speculated the Broncos won't acquire Rodgers is that the start of the season is close at hand. "You can't be having a new quarterback three weeks before the season," Manning said 10 days ago.
If Rodgers, who will turn 38 in December, does wind up with another team, either this year or next year, it certainly would not be the first time a Hall of Fame quarterback ended his NFL career with a team other than the one that made him famous. And there were varying degrees of success for that player with the new team.
Check out this list of HOF quarterbacks who went to other teams:
Norm Van Brocklin, from Rams to Eagles
Y.A. Tittle, from 49ers to Giants
Johnny Unitas, from Colts to Chargers
Joe Namath, from Jets to Rams
Ken Stabler, from Raiders to Oilers
Joe Montana, from 49ers to Chiefs
Kurt Warner, from Rams to Giants
Brett Favre, from Packers to Jets
Peyton Manning, from Colts to Broncos
Tom Brady, from Patriots to Buccaneers
My trust is with Lori Woodley.
Cover photo of Aaron Rodgers by Dan Powers, USA TODAY Sports
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