GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers started organized team activities on Monday without MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, according to a source.
Rodgers has been a regular at these voluntary practices over the years, missing only a practice here and there during his 13-year run as the team’s starting quarterback. While his displeasure with the organization has been filled with rumor and innuendo over the past month, his absence on Monday is the first real news since an ESPN.com report took the wind out of the first round of the NFL Draft.
While Rodgers reportedly does not want to return Green Bay, general manager Brian Gutekunst during the draft said: “We’re not going to trade Aaron Rodgers.”
Speaking after Day 1 of the rookie minicamp earlier on May 14, coach Matt LaFleur said: “I’ve got nothing new to update and we still obviously feel the same way. We want him back in the worst way. I know he knows that and, you know, we’ll continue to work at it each and every day.”
Rodgers has not spoken about his future. That presumably will change later in the day when he talks to ESPN's Kenny Mayne for a "SportsCenter" that will air at 10 p.m.
Because these are voluntary workouts, there is no penalty for Rodgers’ absence. That would change if he skips the minicamp. Rodgers is subject to fines of up to $95,877 for missing the three-day event.
However, Rodgers typically would pocket a $500,000 roster bonus for participating in the offseason program. Generally, players have to be present for 80 percent of the program to collect the bonus.
The program started with Phase 1, consisting of virtual meetings but no on-the-field drills, from April 19 through May 14. Phase 2, consisting of virtual meetings and on-the-field drills at a teaching pace, was last week. Phase 3, consisting of a maximum of 10 OTA practices (full speed but noncontact), the mandatory minicamp and either in-person or virtual meetings, runs through June 18.
Rodgers was not present for Phase 1 or Phase 2, meaning he will miss out on a half-million bucks.
Without Rodgers, LaFleur will turn the offense over to Jordan Love, last year’s first-round pick, and two recent additions: veteran Blake Bortles and young free agent Kurt Benkert. This will be an important time for Love to direct an offense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL in scoring last season with Rodgers earning MVP honors.
With or without Rodgers, OTAs will continue on Tuesday and Thursday this week and Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday of next week. The team’s mandatory three-day minicamp will be held on Tuesday, June 8, through Thursday, June 10. The three weeks of OTAs will conclude with voluntary practices on June 14, 15 and 17.