Aaron Rodgers: Retiring with Green Bay Packers 'may not be a reality'
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers would prefer to finish up his career with the Green Bay Packers, the only organization that he's ever known, but he also realizes that may not play out because of the Packers trading up to No. 26 in the 2020 NFL Draft to take Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, a possible replacement for Rodgers.
On Friday, Rodgers admitted that he was caught off guard and not "thrilled by the pick, necessarily," however, he would go on to add, "I understand."
"I think it was more the surprise of the pick, based on my own feelings of wanting to play into my 40s, and really the realization that it does change the controllables a little bit," Rodgers explained on a nearly 40-minute conference call. "Because as much as I feel confident in my abilities and what I can accomplish and what we can accomplish, there are some new factors that are out of my control. And so my sincere desire to start and finish with the same organization, just as it has with many other players over the years, may not be a reality at this point.
"And as much as I understand the organization's future outlook and wanting to make sure they're thinking about the team now and down the line -- and I respect that -- at the same time, I still believe in myself and have a strong desire to play into my 40s. And I'm just not sure how that all works together at this point."
Currently 36 years old, Rodgers is under contract with the Packers for four more years, which is part of a $134 million extension that he received in 2018. During the conference call, Rodgers was clear that he wanted to finish out his contract, and possibly play after that.
If Green Bay decided to move on from Rodgers, they could begin to gather savings within their salary cap, however, the numbers would be small. In savings, it would only be $4.76 million in cap money, and in dead money, the Packers would have a total of $31.556 million. In regards to cap numbers, Rodgers has a hit of $36.3 million in 2021, while in 2022, it's up to $39.9 million. By making a move to stray away from Rodgers, they would save $22.648 million in salary-cap space after 2021, but they would also have to tally $17.204 million in dead money.
Before Brett Favre temporarily retired after the 2007 season, Rodgers sat behind Favre for three years. Eventually, Favre would express to the Packers that he wanted to make a return for 2008, but Green Bay would inform him that they had moved on to Rodgers, and as a result, they would trade Favre to the New York Jets. Favre would go on to eventually finish his career with the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers' rival, playing two seasons with the team.
Speaking of Favre, he recently would say that he thinks that Rodgers will end up finishing up his career with a different team because of the Love pick.
"I think what it does is just reinforce kind of the adage that you can only control what you can control," stated Rodgers. "It's always been a mantra for myself, but I think any great athlete there's things that are just out of our control. That obviously is something that's very important to me, but I think is definitely telling at this point that is truly something that's out of my control. What I can control is how I play and making that decision at some point a very hard one. You know, if I were to retire in the organization's timetable, then it's an easy decision. But if there comes a time where I feel like I can still play at a high level and my body feels great, you know, then there's other guys that have gone on and played elsewhere."
Last season, the Green Bay Packers would put up an elite 13-3 regular season record and would make an appearance in the NFC Championship Game in the playoffs, however, Rodgers wouldn't play up to his MVP-caliber quality en route to the Packers' 2019 performance. In the regular season, Rodgers would tally a 50.4 QBR, which is the lowest of his career. In total, he would have 10 games with a QBR under 50, which was the second worst in the league just behind Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and his 11 figure. Rodgers' mobility has also been on the decline, only holding the ball for an average of 2.88 seconds. According to data from Next Gen State, that was the sixth highest in the National Football League.
Despite the dropping numbers though, Rodgers' leadership was still heavily at play, and it was key into getting his teammates to support new head coach Matt LaFleur's system.
"I totally understand where he's coming from," LaFleur said during a conference call on Friday not much longer after Rodgers spoke to the media. "I think he's very motivated, and he doesn't need external motivation. He's one of the most competitive people I've ever been around. And you guys, you can see that competitiveness every time we step out on that field. So I don't think it's going to drive him any more than if we would've drafted somebody else. I just think that's who he is, that's how he's wired, that's why he's achieved the things that he's done throughout his career."
The relationship between Rodgers and Favre wasn't the best at first, but eventually, the two would eventually grow closer together. Famously, Favre would say about Rodgers: "My contract doesn't say I have to get Aaron Rodgers ready to play. Now hopefully he watches me and gets something from that."
Now that the tables have turned, Rodgers would take a different approach, sparking the first conservation between him and Love just a day after Green Bay would select him in the draft. Rodgers said Love isn't at fault for the new quarterback controversy, so he won't take it out on him.
"I've had great relationships over the years with [backups], and I'd expect that same type of relationship with Jordan," stated Rodgers. "You know, again, he didn't get asked to be drafted by the Packers.
"He's not to blame at all. He's just coming in excited about his opportunity. We had a great conversation the day after the draft, and I'm excited to work with him. He seems like a really good kid with a good head on his shoulders. Similar story, not heavily recruited out of college. Kind of made his way at Utah State and we've had some great conversations."