OPINION: Packers Have to Commit to Rodgers
Maybe they’re “not idiots” as Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy put it, but if Aaron Rodgers is going to be a part of the team for the foreseeable future, they ought to make sure he knows it.
Rodgers questioning his future with the Packers following the team’s NFC Championship game loss to Tampa Bay raised questions and even a trade inquiry. According to Sam Farmer of the LA Times, who reported that the LA Rams had called asking about Rodgers’ availability before instead trading for Detroit’s Matthew Stafford. That report was denied by Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst, but the Packers also denied it when Farmer reported that Brett Favre was coming out of retirement in 2008.
There is one very easy way in which the Packers can end all speculation: Commitment.
It’s easy for Gutekunst to say Rodgers will be the quarterback of the future and that he’s looking forward to making playoff runs with him the next “few years.” But if that’s really true — if Rodgers is really the guy he has envisioned as his quarterback — why did he draft Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 draft?
Of course, it isn’t true.
The Packers drafted Love because they were looking to replace Rodgers within three years, a reality Rodgers himself has acknowledged several times. That move is why the questions are suddenly being asked and given that Rodgers has no guaranteed money left on his contact after the 2021 season, it would be natural for him to seek some assurance.
It isn’t just about committing to Rodgers. By trading up and using a draft pick on a quarterback, the Packers passed on the opportunity to make the team better while Rodgers finishes out his career. They drafted Rodgers’ replacement in the first round then Aaron Jones’ in the second. They got basically no contributions from their 2020 draft class, imagine if they drafted guys who could actually help them? You know Rodgers has thought about it. He wants a team that is committed to winning now.
Rodgers gave the appearance of trying to calm the fires last week when he made his weekly appearance on the Pat McAfee Show last week. While the headline coming out of that appearance was Rodgers saying he didn’t think there was a reason why he wouldn’t be back, missed in that was Rodgers listing off his accomplishments in 2020. Also missed was the conversation he had about leverage — something that doesn’t seem like it wound randomly enter his mind.
During that appearance Rodgers also spoke about absolutes. He referred to his return to the team as not being an absolute, but considering his play and his contract situation making it very difficult for them to move on from him in 2021, was there anything more absolute? There is no reason for the team to move on from him right now. Rodgers knows that, he didn’t question his future because he was genuinely concerned that they might cut him. He also isn’t an idiot.
Rodgers wants something from the Packers and it’s very likely as simple as commitment. If the Packers can give him that, this will all go away. If they don’t, expect more headlines and more teams calling to see what it will take to get the quarterback or worse, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter indicated on Get Up last week, it could be Rodgers making the calls.