GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reportedly wants out of Green Bay.
Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst isn’t going to make it happen.
“We’re not going to trade Aaron Rodgers,” Gutekunst said bluntly after selecting Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes with the team’s first-round pick of the NFL Draft late Thursday night.
With the quarterback and franchise at loggerheads, Gutekunst has two cards in his pocket to negotiate the team and the MVP through the mess. First, there’s approximately three months until the start of training camp, meaning there’s time to find common ground. Second, the Packers are coming off back-to-back NFC Championship Games. If Rodgers wants to win, Green Bay probably provides the best chance to make it happen.
“I’m not going to speak for Aaron, but we have a really good team and I do think he’ll play for us again,” Gutekunst said. “We’re going to work towards that and we’ve been working towards that on a number of different fronts. The value that he adds to our football is really immeasurable, you know what I mean? He brings so much to the table not only as a player but as a leader. He’s so important to his teammates, to his coaches, so, yeah, that’s the goal.”
Gutekunst said there was “communication” with Rodgers on Thursday, presumably after ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter published his story at 2:13 p.m. Gutekunst said the two sides have talked frequently over the past six to eight weeks.
The rift between the Packers and Rodgers is well-known around the NFL. On Wednesday, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch, in possession of the No. 3 pick in the draft and a high-quality roster, called Gutekunst to explore a trade.
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“You're talking about the MVP of our league last year,” Lynch said after picking North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance instead. “I don't know about you guys, but to me, when the MVP of the league might be available, and I didn't know that -- I'm just reading the tea leaves just like everybody else and saying, 'Hold on, is something going on here? -- yeah, we inquired.”
Lynch said it was a “quick end” to the conversation, with Gutekunst making it clear Rodgers was not available. Gutekunst said he fielded one other call on Thursday evening.
“It was very brief,” Gutekunst said.
Former ESPN personality Trey Wingo reported the Packers had agreed to shop Rodgers during the offseason, then changed their minds. Gutekunst refuted that, as did a high-ranking source from another team who would be aware of those conversations.
“No, that’s absolutely false,” Gutekunst said. “There’s no truth to that whatsoever. There’s a lot of false reporting going on right now, and that’s particularly one thing that never happened.”
In a dark period in franchise history, the Packers wound up trading the legendary Brett Favre to the New York Jets in 2008 and handing the reins of the offense over to Rodgers. The bitter divorce split the fanbase for years, the wound only healing when Rodgers rose to stardom and led the team to a championship in his third season as the starter. Now, the team could be headed down the same road with its latest legendary quarterback.
Gutekunst, however, expressed confidence he could stop this train from steaming off a cliff.
“I think we obviously have a very good football team here, we have a great organization, we're very committed to him and I think as the lines of communication have been open,” Gutekunst said. “I'm just optimistic that that's what's best for the Green Bay Packers and I truly believe that's what's best for Aaron Rodgers, as well.”