GREEN BAY, Wis. – On April 23, Aaron Rodgers’ long-term future with the Green Bay Packers was thrown into doubt with the first-round selection of quarterback Jordan Love.
Exactly 347 days and one NFL MVP award later, nothing has changed.
“I think we’re exactly where we were last year when I made comments after the draft and throughout the season,” Rodgers said on The Pat McAfee Show on Monday. “I don’t feel like any of that has changed. Even my comments directly after the last game, nothing’s really changed. My future, really, a lot of it is out of my control. That’s why I’ve used the phrase like “beautiful mystery,” because it is quite uncertain which direction things are going to go. 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 could have been bitter about the selection of Love. Instead, with a personal focus on having a more positive “mind space” and a key fundamental change picked up while watching old film, Rodgers delivered one of the best seasons in NFL history. By posting the second-best passer rating in league history, Rodgers won his third MVP and led the Packers to the best record in the conference and back to the NFC Championship Game.
That appeared to answer the question about his long-term future with the franchise that drafted him in 2005. After the season, general manager Brian Gutekunst said he was looking “forward to all the runs we’re going to try to make here over the next few years.” It was a strong proclamation that Rodgers would be, as coach Matt LaFleur put it, the team’s quarterback for “a long time.”
The Packers could have made that “long time” financial commitment to Rodgers with a restructure that would both create salary-cap space for 2021 while all but ensuring he would remain part of the team in 2022. Instead, the Packers reworked several contracts to get beneath the cap but left Rodgers’ deal untouched.
Thus, Rodgers and the team are in the same position as on draft night almost 12 months ago, with the logical point of separation being after the upcoming season. Green Bay could release/trade Rodgers after the 2021 season and save $22.6 million on the 2022 cap. By handing the team to Love for 2022, he’d have a full season to start before the team would have to make a decision on the fifth-year option.
That the Packers haven’t reworked Rodgers’ contract by now doesn’t mean they won’t do it. Rodgers said “I’m sure” there have been negotiations toward a restructure but “I don’t have any updates” on those talks.
But, without that certainty provided by a contract that deepens the ties between the franchise and the franchise quarterback, Rodgers is left to wonder about his future with the team he led to one Super Bowl championship and four additional conference title games.
Thanks to some “perspective adjustments” made before the 2020 draft, Rodgers said he’s not bitter and he’s not a victim.
“I’ve just always spoken the truth and been honest about my opinions about where things are at and understanding that with that pick, that did take my future, to a sense, out of my control, and I came to peace with that,” Rodgers said.
“When things happened, it wasn’t things happening to me, it was things happening around me,” he continued. “I wasn’t a victim of circumstances. I wasn’t a victim of things happening to me. I was just a part of a process of events unfolding. At the same time, it doesn’t mean I can’t be honest about how I thought those events would affect my future in Green Bay. I said what I said last year and it’s still a reality and that really hasn’t changed.”