Aaron Rodgers watch continued Tuesday as the Green Bay Packers began their minicamp without their star player. This was the first time Rodgers started a holdout in his 16-year career, and it’s not at all surprising.
Tensions are running high in Green Bay after Rodgers made his frustrations clear and muddied the previously seemingly clear waters running through the Packers organization. While Rodgers’ grievances aren’t new and have been building over time, there’s a growing realization that Rodgers will play elsewhere in 2021.
“I think anytime you're talking about any player on your football team, you'd love everybody to be here,” head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters, via NFL.com. “So, you know, it's certainly... It is what it is, man. We'll focus and we'll control and work on the guys that are here and try to help them become the best to their ability and coach the heck out of them.”
Coaches and teammates can continue focusing on minicamp, but Green Bay’s top decision-makers are facing a laundry list of tasks in an attempt to appease a quarterback who's been known to hold a grudge. The Packers have to face internal questions that caused a rift between Rodgers and the organization; there seems to be an increasing theme across the NFL as teams struggle to keep their future Hall of Fame quarterbacks happy. Green Bay then has to present a deal that would entice Rodgers to stay; this is a big ask with the bulk of the power going to Rodgers, an uncomfortable position for any NFL team’s brass to be in after controlling the market for so long. Various reports and theories have been thrown around during this offseason’s news cycle. Some are harder to believe than others; some are outright absurd; and some, like the following, meet in the middle.
It would surely be a shock to the system and an adjustment for the Packers’ brass, roster, and fans to continue without Rodgers. And no, no matter how much fun Rodgers is having on the gridiron or how productive he is season after season, nearing 40 years of age, he can’t play forever—and what an ending this would be. Football Morning In America’s Peter King is one of many who proposed (and ideated) a compromise: Rodgers plays on a one-year deal with the Packers before ending his career with a different organization. This is Olympic-level mental gymnastics and a frivolous mind game that requires more assumption than anything else. One particular sentiment that stuck out was the notion that Rodgers, after 13 seasons as the Packers starting quarterback, has to still “prove” he loves his coaches, teammates, and fans.
“He told Kenny Mayne two weeks ago he loves his coaches, his teammates, and the fans, and he has spoken with reverence about the history of the Packers. This compromise allows him to prove it. Lots of fans would find his words to Mayne hollow if Rodgers is home in California in September and Jordan Love gets blown out on opening day at New Orleans. I doubt Rodgers wants a bridge-burning exit from Green Bay.”
Rodgers does not have to prove his loyalty; because, as we should all know, NFL owners, general managers, and coaches don’t show that same loyalty to their entire rosters. What Rodgers has accomplished in Green Bay is enough proof, and his recent MVP campaign holds that to be true. Baiting Rodgers into any type of deal based on loyalty is a zero-sum game. The more intriguing thought—and what would entice any player, especially one reaching the end of their career—is centered around the success Rodgers and the Packers have had.
“The Packers are 28-8 in Rodgers’ last two seasons in Green Bay, and there’s little doubt Green Bay is the place he’d have the best chance to win a Super Bowl this year. With Rodgers, I’d say it’s a Tampa Bay-Green Bay tossup for home field in the NFC playoffs. Is there any place in the AFC where Rodgers would have as good a chance to win his second ring in 2021? No, and it’s not close.”
Why else would a disgruntled passer stay if it wasn’t to win now and win big. This is why Green Bay is likely on edge; it wouldn’t be in the same position to win with Jordan Love under center. Love hasn’t had the time to develop; and if a game is on the line, what team wouldn’t want a proven passer under center who can execute at one of the highest levels? This is Rodgers’ leverage.
Could Green Bay put together a deal and make promises it may or may not keep to try and get Rodgers to stay, even if it’s just for one more season? Sure. Should he take a proposed “one-year” deal to stay with the Packers? I simply don’t see it happening; and, like most good things eventually do, it’s past time we see it come to an end