There’s an ultimate power struggle happening in Green Bay. It’s reminiscent of the most exciting fictional battles; think Marvel Cinematic Universe where Thanos and the Avengers faced each other in multiple battles for the fate of their fictional world. Here, future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers could fit the role of the villain or the superhero—depending on your own personal views—and the Packers’ brass fits the other with the fate being the future of the organization.
Rodgers has been synonymous with Green Bay since taking over the reins in 2008. In the near-decade and a half that’s followed, Rodgers has had three MVP seasons, a Super Bowl championship (and Super Bowl MVP), and finished the 2020 season as the NFL’s passer rating (121.5) and passing touchdown leader (48); he also led the league in completion percentage (70.7%), had the lowest interception percentage (1%), and finished his third consecutive season throwing for more than 4,000 yards. Rodgers was fun to watch, no matter which team you were rooting for, and his own story arc—from a villain secluding himself personally to a hero leading his team to back-to-back NFC North titles and championship games—has been one of the more interesting developments, leading to the current situation that, one way or another, will alter the future of the storied franchise.
Green Bay’s unable to keep its star passer happy, and, in turn, Rodgers wants to use the leverage of his success to find a solution that better suits him; whether that’s with the Packers or not has yet to be determined. We’ve seen multiple storylines about disgruntled quarterbacks, most recently Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, where Wilson’s rightful concerns led to a flurry of trade rumors and an expected departure in the coming future if the Seahawks aren’t able to provide 1) ample protection to the NFL’s most sacked quarterback and 2) an offensive system built around what has made Wilson so successful. The situation in Green Bay is similar, but not the same. Rodgers wants similar things on the playing field, like more depth in the wide receiver room, but the details around the inner workings of the organization are much muddier.
Rodgers, unlike Wilson, doesn’t have a no-trade clause, and it was recently reported that Green Bay sought to trade Rodgers earlier in the offseason. In a uber-abbreviated timeline, it has since been reported Rodgers doesn’t plan on returning to the team. Rodgers wants more money, and deservedly so; after the Packers surprisingly drafted his future replacement in the 2020 draft, Rodgers is seeking a financial commitment as his current contract is set to end following the 2023 season. Rodgers also wants to be more involved with personnel decisions, relating directly to the receiving corps and Green Bay releasing Jake Kumerow ahead of the 2020 season. It’s almost laughable that Kumerow, who after two seasons in Green Bay (from 2018-19) had a total of 20 receptions, 322 yards, and just two touchdowns is the nail in the coffin here. But it’s not just Kumerow and it’s not just a disconnect between a seemingly adaptable young head coach in Matt LaFleur, general manager Brian Gutekunst, and Rodgers. There’s a recurring theme of NFL teams being unable to keep their star passer happy; and while some league executives might think replacing a perennial passer to avoid accountability, or simply sucking up their pride, is the better option, it’ll only perpetuate an unhealthy cycle within the organization itself.
LaFleur has said he “can’t fathom [Rodgers] not being in Green Bay,” and it’s a sentiment that’s likely shared among NFL personnel and fans alike; think back to the shock and awe of Tom Brady leaving long time head coach Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for the Bruce Arians-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rodgers has, reportedly, said he won’t return if Gutekunst continues to be in charge.
This is reaching an Avengers: Endgame-esque battle and it’s hard to determine who would be victorious at the end. But there’s one clear answer to the question, is this situation in Green Bay salvageable? Hell no.