GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Aaron Rodgers definitely knows who he is, and who he wants to be. But right now the Green Bay Packers aren’t quite sure who they will end up being, without him.
It seems pretty clear that Green Bay’s front office isn’t going out of their way to bring Rodgers back, even though the coaching staff seems to say that they want to every chance they can. On the contrary, if Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy is going to continue to take unwarranted third-party jabs by reminding folks that Ted Thompson referred to Rodgers as a “complicated fella” during this current standoff, expect to see more t-shirts with messages like “I’m offended.” Murphy has been around (and excelled at) the game of football at every single level. But his delivery and ill attempts at self-deprecating humor, seem to be sending the wrong message.
In his ESPN interview with Kenny Mayne, Rodgers used words like character, philosophy, and people, when it came to his rift with the Packers front office. But in his most recent statement on a zoom call regarding his upcoming golf match, it didn’t take long to raise a few eyebrows.
“It’s been one of those quiet offseasons you just dream about where that you just kind of go through your process on your own quietly and you know and that’s all you can ask for as an older player in the league and someone that’s been around for a long time. And just enjoy that time to yourself and just relax and not be bothered and not have any obligations or anything going on. You know I think that’s what this offseason has been about. It’s really been about enjoying my time and spending it where I want to spend it and not feeling like I have to go anywhere or not having any responsibilities, but still being an NFL player.”
So if Rodgers still considers himself an NFL player, he plans on either playing in Green Bay or being traded elsewhere. And flaunting the fact that you’re the only player not in the Packers mandatory minicamp is a bit of a conundrum. Especially since the only veteran to be an active participant the entire last month? Was the other starter on offense named Aaron…Jones. The Packers lead running back signed a 4 year, $48 million dollar contract this offseason and stayed in Green Bay for the final week of OTA’s.
“He’s a vet, he doesn’t have to be here, and he was here from day one,” said rookie WR Amari Rodgers. “Being that example, being that guy that everybody was looking at. Once he catches the ball, once he gets the ball, he’s finishing, almost through the endzone. He’s just been that example the whole OTA’s, the whole minicamp, that person that you look at and you’re like, ok, that’s the way I need to practice.”
Rodgers has shown in the past that he clearly doesn’t need the practice to be ready to play. After winning Super Bowl 45, the NFL had a lockout in 2011 and the Packers ended up beating the Saints in the season opener 42-34. After the game, Rodgers sarcastically said “That was a good start for us. But I’ve just got to ask myself, ‘What would have happened if we had had offseason workouts?'” Rodgers was publicly against the league’s most recent collective bargaining agreement, specifically the adding of a 17th regular-season game and the #2 seed in each conference not receiving a bye week. For those involved it is “Risk vs. Reward.” There is added risk for the players. And mostly reward for the owners.
Which brings us to another sensitive issue when it comes to philosophy. During “The Match” zoom call, Tom Brady jabbed at Bryson Dechambeau and Rodgers when it came to “going for it”. A clear reference to last year’s NFC championship game when Matt LaFleur infamously chose to kick a field goal, and take the football out of his MVP QB’s hands. With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. For a head coach who used the phrase, “All gas…No brake” in his rookie season, it was a timid and incorrect decision, no matter how you try to spin it, as blatantly pointed out by Brady. To which Rodgers responded, “I usually don’t get the option [to go for it] in my experience.”
If I was a betting man, I would think that there is no way Rodgers turns down over $30 million dollars this year, with a legitimate shot to win another Super Bowl in Titletown. And if that doesn’t happen? He could easily leverage his way out next season. But that could also mean that the Packers might need to replace a good chunk of their wide receiver corp, who are in the last year of their contracts.
For a publicly owned franchise that uses words like transparency quite often, ultimately what is the real issue?
Not going for it on 4th down and kicking a field goal?
Brian Gutekunst cutting Jordy Nelson?
Embarrassing Rodgers by doing the same thing to Jake Kumerow, just a day after Rodgers praises Touchdown Jesus?
If and when either side does go public, instead of veiled semantics, fans will have to wait and see how it unfolds.
In his final press conference before the team breaks until training camp, the head coach had this to say about the future at QB.
“We’ll have one plan,” LaFleur said. “We’ve pretty much laid that out. Just kind of going to fine-tune some things over the next few weeks. Just in terms of logistics of our schedule and whatnot. We’ve got what we feel is a pretty good blueprint in terms of how to get our guys ready to play.”
The last week in July, we will all find out which of those guys will be ready to play QB for the Green Bay Packers.