The Green Bay Packers are the NFL’s most successful team, with a record of 13-5. As the season started to wind down, they were locked in a heated battle for the NFC North title against their division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings.
Aaron Rodgers is a quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. In 2011, he was drafted in the first round and has led them to a Super Bowl victory. Read more in detail here: aaron rodgers number.
Note from the editor: This article was first published on May 13 and has been modified to reflect recent developments.
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – The date was Aug. 30, 2018, one day after Aaron Rodgers inked a $134 million contract deal with the Green Bay Packers that will last through 2023. Except for one alarming statement made by the quarterback and the squad, the day was mostly joyful for the quarterback and the team:
Rodgers stated, “I don’t believe this guarantees anything other than maybe the first three years of the contract.”
Rodgers and the Packers were nearly there three years later.
As originally reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and verified by numerous media sources, Rodgers had grown so unhappy with the team that he informed some in the organization he wouldn’t play for the Packers again. Part of it was because general manager Brian Gutekunst not only selected quarterback Jordan Love in 2020 as a potential successor for Rodgers (and moved up in the first round to do so), but he also didn’t tell Rodgers about his intentions.
Now that Rodgers has won his third MVP award in his career, the Packers and Rodgers seem to have made enough compromises to extend their partnership for another year.
Here’s a rundown of the circumstances that led to Rodgers and the Packers’ near-separation and eventual reunion:
The Packers welcome Missouri quarterback Drew Lock, one of the top prospects in the 2019 draft, to Green Bay for a pre-draft visit on April 18, 2019. Even though Rodgers is the same age (35) as Favre was when the Packers selected him in 2005, the news comes as a shock. Rodgers, on the other hand, had never done the Favre/retirement waffling and had stated a desire to play into his 40s on many occasions.
The Packers’ problems with Aaron Rodgers extend beyond Jordan Love’s selection. Icon Sportswire/Robin Alam
Rodgers, on the other hand, is coming off a season in which he essentially stated that he was ready for a new coach (see his dismissal of Mike McCarthy’s offense following a Week 4 win over the Buffalo Bills the previous season, as well as his disappointment that Alex Van Pelt had been fired as quarterbacks coach earlier that year).
The Packers wrap their joint practices with the Houston Texans on August 6, 2019. It had been 14 years since they had held a training camp session for another squad. “I wouldn’t mind if they didn’t do it for another 14 years,” Rodgers adds after the second session. “Absolutely, 100 percent, I want to do this again,” first-year coach Matt LaFleur had stated just before that. Gutekunst and others in the football department are bothered by Rodgers’ inconsistency.
Feb. 21, 2020: If the Lock visit was a ruse, Gutekunst’s words on this day are a breath of fresh air. The general manager said that he would consider selecting a quarterback in the first round. Gutekunst is asked whether he is worried about the effect such a selection might have on Rodgers at the same press conference with reporters.
“I believe that winning is the most important thing to Aaron,” Gutekunst adds. “He is aware that we are attempting to make the greatest choice possible for the football team’s future. So I’m not concerned about it, but you can’t manage everything with all players. Players experience joy and sorrow as a result of a variety of events. As a result, I’m not too worried about it.”
April 23, 2020: After the Minnesota Vikings selected Justin Jefferson with the 22nd overall selection, a receiver the Packers wanted and Rodgers admired, the San Francisco 49ers choose Brandon Aiyuk with the 25th overall pick. Gutekunst then makes his move. He moves up from No. 30 to No. 26 by trading his fourth-round selection (No. 136 overall) to the Dolphins.
Rodgers conducts a roughly 40-minute conference call with reporters on May 15, 2020, during which he claims he isn’t “thrilled by the selection,” but adds, “I understand.” He also admits that his goal to begin and end his career with the same club “may not be a reality at this time.” “I’m just not sure how that all fits together at this time,” he says, reiterating his desire to finish his contract and perhaps beyond.
3 September 2020: During an interview with SiriusXM NFL radio, Rodgers expressed his satisfaction with his top-four receivers: Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Jake Kumerow, whom Rodgers has praised since joining the Packers in 2017.
Gutekunst fires Kumerow on September 4, 2020.
The Bills sign Kumerow to the practice squad on September 8, 2020.
1 November 2020: Rodgers is asked whether they need offensive assistance just before the trade deadline (Gutekunst reportedly made an offer to the Texans for receiver Will Fuller V). Rodgers stated, “We’ve had numerous discussions about this sort of stuff throughout the years.” “I am well aware of my responsibilities. I’m not going to [stump] for anybody since the last player I [stumped] for went to Buffalo, so…”
Jan. 20, 2021: During the week leading up to the NFC Championship Game, Rodgers reiterates his c’est la vie attitude from earlier in the season, calling his future a “wonderful mystery.” It was in answer to a query about whether Rodgers, who is 37 years old, saw the game as his best final opportunity to play in the Super Bowl.
Jan. 24, 2021: Following the Packers’ 31-26 defeat to the Buccaneers in the NFC championship game, Rodgers expresses concern about his future with the team, stating, “[The Packers’] futures are unclear — mine included.” After LaFleur chose to kick a field goal to reduce the lead to five with 2:09 remaining rather than go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 8-yard line, Rodgers never received the ball back with a chance to win the game in the closing minutes.
The Packers, according to Dan Orlovsky, won the faceoff with Aaron Rodgers.
25 January 2021: When questioned about Rodgers’ remarks the day before, Packers president Mark Murphy said on WTAQ-WNFL radio in Green Bay: “I’ll say this: there’s no way Aaron isn’t going to remain a member of the Packers. He’s going to be the league’s MVP, after all. He may have enjoyed the greatest year of his life. He’s our undeniable leader, and we’re not complete fools.”
Rodgers states on “The Pat McAfee Show” on January 26, 2021, “I don’t believe there is any reason why I wouldn’t come back,” stressing the word “think.” “But, see, in this industry, there aren’t many absolutes. So I didn’t make a blanket statement about something that isn’t a blanket statement. And I suppose that’s why things got a little crazy.”
In a season wrap-up press conference on February 1, 2021, Gutekunst is asked whether he feels obligated to offer Rodgers any guarantees regarding his future. “I don’t believe I need to do a lot of assuring him,” Gutekunst adds, “because I think clearly his play speaks for itself.” “I’ll say this: we’re genuinely looking forward to not just next year, but also the years ahead. He’s always played at such a high level, and I believe this year’s squad was particularly exceptional. It didn’t end the way we intended it to, but I believe everyone is genuinely driven to return, and as I previously said, I don’t believe there is anything more we need to do. He’s our quarterback and our captain.”
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2 March 2021: When asked whether renegotiating Rodgers’ deal is a possibility, Gutekunst is evasive. The Packers are still far above the salary cap at this time, so many veteran contracts will be restructured.
The Packers do not convert Rodgers’ $6.8 million roster bonus into a signing bonus on March 20, 2021, which would have provided them with almost $4.5 million in immediate salary-cap savings. Instead, the incentive was “vested as planned,” according to a source. Rodgers’ contract has an automatic conversion provision, but it would still need Rodgers’ signature before becoming official (which begs the issue of why it’s called an automatic conversion in the first place).
Murphy has an opportunity to defuse matters in the first public indication of major problems developing on March 30, 2021, but he doesn’t. Instead, he refuses to explain why the contract was never restructured.
Rodgers reiterates nothing has changed in the year after the Packers selected Love on “The Pat McAfee Show” on April 5, 2021, in what is likely his last interview on the topic. “That’s why I chose phrases like ‘wonderful mystery,’ since it’s hard to predict which way things will go,” Rodgers adds. Rodgers also says in the interview that after his two-week term as a guest presenter, he would want to be considered for the full-time hosting job on “Jeopardy!”
The Packers’ offseason program kicks up on April 19, 2021, with four weeks of virtual meetings and exercises, but Rodgers opts out of the optional session.
“I can’t even take my head” to the notion that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want to return to the Packers, says coach Matt LaFleur, left. AP Photo/Mike Roemer
29 April 2021: Schefter’s report is teased on NFL Live and published on ESPN.com only hours before the NFL draft starts. After selecting cornerback Eric Stokes in the first round later that night, Gutekunst said that the Packers had no intentions to trade Rodgers and that they think things can be worked out. Gutekunst acknowledges that he should have spoken with Rodgers more before selecting Love.
May 1, 2021: Murphy addresses the media reports in his monthly piece on the team website, writing, “This is a problem that we have been working on for many months.” The Packers are committed to Rodgers until “2021 and beyond,” according to him. Later that day, LaFleur reiterated his desire for Rodgers’ return, but when asked what would happen if Rodgers refused, the coach said, “Yeah, I know, and I can’t even take my head to that place right now.”
On “The Rich Eisen Show” on May 3, 2021, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, one of LaFleur’s mentors, claims he contacted LaFleur the day after Schefter’s story was made public to ask about a trade. “The reality is that I didn’t want to wake up the following day, on Friday, to find out that Aaron Rodgers, one of the greatest quarterbacks in the game, had been dealt without any due diligence. So I contacted Matt and asked whether there was anything to it, and he told me that calling [GM John] Lynch would be a waste of time.”
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May 5, 2021: Favre tells ESPN Wisconsin radio that he doesn’t see Rodgers “coming back and simply saying, ‘All right, let’s just bury the hatchet,’” and that his instinct tells him that if he isn’t moved, Rodgers would prefer sit out than play for the Packers. Later that day, former Packers fullback John Kuhn paints a more upbeat picture on CBS Radio, saying that he believes “Aaron Rodgers will be the starting quarterback for the Packers this year” with a 70-75 percent chance.
10th of May, 2021: In an interview with Fox Sports Radio, All-Pro receiver Adams said that how the Rodgers’ issue is handled may have an effect on his future with the Packers. Adams’ contract is coming to an end this year.
The Packers sign veteran quarterback Blake Bortles, who was previously tutored by current offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, on May 12, 2021. When Bortles helped lead the Jaguars to the 2017 AFC Championship Game, Hackett was in the same situation.
May 15, 2021: The Packers sign Kurt Benkert, a former Falcons practice squad quarterback who was one of two quarterbacks invited to the rookie minicamp that weekend. They had two quarterbacks on the roster before the week began, but now have four: Rodgers, Love, Bortles, and Benkert.
Rodgers fails not show up for the first day of OTAs on May 24, 2021. Rodgers has always participated in the sessions, despite the fact that they are optional. Later that night, he appears on SportsCenter for Kenny Mayne’s final show on ESPN, confirming that his beef is primarily with Packers management, stating that he has nothing against Love “It’s all about a philosophy, and it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it’s the people who keep the machine running. It’s all about the character, the culture, and doing things the correct way.”
To satisfy Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are expected to trade for Randall Cobb, according to Rob Demovsky.
Murphy stated in another edition of his monthly column on June 5, 2021, that “The issue with Aaron Rodgers has caused a schism among our supporters. This is reflected in the emails and letters I’ve received.”
Rodgers is declared a holdout after he fails to show up for the start of mandatory minicamp on June 7, 2021. The Packers refused to clarify whether Rodgers would face the $93,085 in penalties, and coach Matt LaFleur remarked of Rodgers’ absence a day later, “It is what it is, man.”
Murphy refers to Rodgers as “a complex guy” at a private function at Lambeau Field on June 10, 2021, echoing something the late general manager Ted Thompson reportedly remarked about Rodgers to Murphy. This followed Murphy’s piece in which he said that the less spoken about Rodgers, the better.
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Rodgers is noncommittal when asked if he would play this season at “The Match,” a made-for-TV golf tournament that pitted Bryson DeChambeau and Rodgers against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. He replied, “I don’t know… we’ll see.”
Rodgers said he’ll make a choice regarding this season shortly at another celebrity golf tournament, the American Century Championship, on July 10, 2021. “I’m going to take it easy this week and then go back to working out and figuring things out in a few weeks,” she says.
24th of July, 2021: Rodgers and receiver Davante Adams, who allegedly called off contract negotiations with the Packers earlier this week, shared a photo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen from their last season together with the Chicago Bulls, which was included in the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance.”
July 26, 2021: One day before players are required to report to training camp, Schefter reports that the Packers offered concessions in an attempt to persuade Rodgers to return for at least one more season, and that the two sides were able to reach mutually-agreed-upon terms that would position Rodgers for a possible departure after the 2021 season. Murphy told reporters earlier in the day that the issue has been “sort of a plague on both homes, us and Aaron.”
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