The Packers keep saying that Aaron Rodgers is in their long-term quarterback plans coming off his third NFL MVP season. But what they’re doing and what everyone’s hearing out of Green Bay doesn’t feel that way.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter detailed in a new report Thursday afternoon before the first round of the 2021 draft that Rodgers’ developing desire to part ways with the Packers stems from a stalemate over a contract extension but goes deeper than that.
Rodgers reportedly is still upset over the team using a first-round draft pick on QB Jordan Love in 2020. Schefter also notes Rodgers has a different perspective on his personal happiness, finding off-field joy in his engagement to actress Shailene Woodley and his recent guest-hosting stint on “Jeopardy!.”
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Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers is so disgruntled with the Green Bay Packers that he has told some within the organization that he does not want to return to the team, league and team sources told ESPN on Thursday.
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— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 29, 2021
Rodgers made it work after Love’s selection, responding with arguably the best season of his career, fueled by the same chip on his shoulder established by his first-round draft slide in 2005. Rodgers has made the most out of offensive-minded coach Matt LaFleur’s system and has adjusted well to it over two-plus years. But despite the needed divorce with former coach Mike McCarthy, Rodgers also hasn’t been thrilled with GM Brian Gutekunst and president Mark Murphy’s consistent verbal commitment that lacks backing.
Green Bay drafted Love instead of giving Rodgers any offensive help in 2020. He averages $33.5 million in annual salary and is signed through 2023. The Packers can, however, get out of his contract ahead of 2022 by eating $17.2 million in dead money and saving $22.6 million toward the salary cap with a trade next offseason.
According to multiple reports, the 49ers, who didn’t take Rodgers No. 1 overall in ’05 but hold the No. 3 overall pick in ’21, explored whether the Packers would trade him this year in exchange for a big package of picks and veteran players. The Packers may have had a flat-out ‘no’ ready at first, but they are not financially incapable of doing that, as they can save $22.8 million in cap space by designating a Rodgers deal for June 1.
The Packers had to be hoping more rumblings about a Rodgers breakup didn’t get leaked. But per Schefter, the team has being doing its best to appease him this offseason with visits from LaFleur and the other officials.
Rodgers has seen his contract rise when needed to match the new highest-paid players at the position. Following the Love pick, that would have been a immediate, important good faith gesture. After having his big season, the feelings of being under-appreciated only grow.
Given where his life is headed, Rodgers is no longer defined by his stellar play for the Packers, but so much more. At 37 and at the top of his game trying to seek out that elusive second Super Bowl ring, the Packers need to continue to put more effort in rewarding Rodgers with support, instead of leaning on him more and having him looking over his shoulder, too.
There’s no easy fix here to save the relationship, unless the Packers make an effort to move Love, lock up Rodgers longer the way he wants, and put more direct resources into extending the championship window with him. It’s a good time for the perceived ultimatum, reminding Green Bay it’s under pressure to make major amends for tts Love-led draft last year.
The Packers need to prove to Rodgers they’re the best team for him again, soon. Or they no longer can pass up the best return offer for his services.