Aaron Rodgers’ future — not the divisional-round loss his Green Bay Packers suffered against the San Francisco 49ers — was the primary topic of conversation in the quarterback’s post-game press conference on Saturday night.
After the game, Rodgers told reporters he would take some time to think about what’s next, though he wouldn’t specify if that meant he was contemplating retirement or finishing his career elsewhere.
“I'm going to take some time and have conversations with folks around here,” Rodgers said. “Take some time away and make a decision obviously before free agency or anything gets going on that front.”
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The veteran quarterback is under contract with the Packers for another season, though trade rumors were swirling around Rodgers before the 2021 NFL Draft. The 38-year-old wound up staying in Green Bay for the 2021 season but lost to the 49ers in the postseason after a 13-4 regular season and a first-round bye.
Before the 2021 season, it seemed doubtful he would be back in 2022. However, Rodgers’ relationship with the organization did improve before the season came crashing to a halt on Saturday night in the 13-10 loss to San Francisco.
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“I don’t want to be part of a rebuild if I keep playing,” Rodgers said. “A lot of decisions in the next couple months.”
The 2021 MVP favorite did say his relationship with Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst improved this season. Rodgers didn’t show up for organized team activities or minicamp during the spring and then held an airing of grievances in a press conference after he returned for training camp, saying, in part, that he would like to have more of a say in some personnel matters.
“Brian came out and saw me on the west coast,” Rodgers said Saturday night. “We had some good conversations, and from the day I got back, I felt like there was earnest decisions on both sides to meet in the middle and communicate. I’m very thankful to be part of the conversations I was a part of. I feel like my opinion mattered. Even deeper and meaningful support from him, and Russ (Ball) and Mark (Murphy), so that was definitely a special part of the season to see that relationship grow. I think he put together a really nice team — a team that could have won the Super Bowl. He deserves a lot of credit for some of the moves that he made. Disappointed that we couldn’t put it together for him and the organization tonight. Disappointed it’s ending.”
It was a tumultuous season for Rodgers, who missed a game in November after testing positive for COVID-19 and then went public with his decision not to get vaccinated.
Rodgers is the favorite to win MVP, an honor that’s voted on before the postseason begins. He entered his divisional-round bout with the fourth-highest PFF passing grade (87.8) among qualified quarterbacks.
Many quarterback-needy teams are now heading into the 2022 offseason, including the Denver Broncos. If Rodgers were to be traded, he would carry a $27.6 million cap hit to his new team.
“This thing is definitely going to look different moving forward in Green Bay,” Rodgers said after the game.
Highest-graded quarterbacks in 2021 (Week 1 to wild-card weekend; min. 160 dropbacks)
The Packers selected Rodgers out of Cal in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He won Super Bowl XLV with Green Bay after the 2010 NFL season, the only Super Bowl appearance of his 17-year career. Green Bay has won 13 games in three consecutive seasons under head coach Matt LaFleur. They’ve won just two playoff games over the last three seasons, however.
If Rodgers does retire or play elsewhere in 2022, Green Bay would likely start 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love at quarterback. The Packers traded up to take Love before the 2020 season. Love lost the first start of his NFL career and put up a 30.0 overall PFF grade in the Week 11 game Rodgers missed against the Kansas City Chiefs.