That’s a perfect encapsulation of the drama that has followed Rodgers since reports of his unhappiness with the Packers organization surfaced in April.
Just six months after coming one game shy of a Super Bowl berth, the Packers’ offseason is shaping up to be nothing short of an outright disaster. Rodgers, the 2020 MVP and PFF’s highest-graded quarterback, failed to show up for the spring’s offseason workout program and mandatory minicamp then recently turned down a massive contract extension, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
A rumor percolated Friday that Rodgers could be on the verge of retirement, causing some sportsbooks to remove the Packers from their lines, as pointed out by Pro Football Talk. Still, Rodgers’ teammates believe the quarterback will ultimately play in Green Bay this season, according to a source. A photo of Rodgers working out in California with Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari was posted Friday.
Rodgers reposted the picture on Instagram with the caption, “Classic pic of workout @davidbakhtiari mid sentence. Never stop talking.”
Then there’s the case of 2020 All-Pro Davante Adams, who broke off contract talks with the Packers as he seeks a deal that would pay him as the top wide receiver in the NFL, according to a source. PFF'ss highest-graded wideout in 2020, Adams is expected to play out the rest of his current contract, but he’ll be a free agent after the season. His former Fresno State teammate, Las Vegas Raiders signal-caller Derek Carr, has already started the recruitment process.
Has Derek Carr’s recruitment of Davante Adams worked? ???????? pic.twitter.com/TlrapLzOoN
— PFF (@PFF) July 23, 2021
Adams and Rodgers also posted the same photo from the 2020 documentary The Last Dance on their respective Instagram stories late Friday night, drawing many to speculate that it may be the duo's last year together in Green Bay.
The Packers drafted quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and some believe the entire mess with Rodgers could have been avoided if Green Bay had alerted their star quarterback that the pick was coming. Love, who played zero snaps in 2020, would likely take over if Rodgers left the Packers before the 2021 season, sinking Green Bay’s playoff potential and decreasing their win total and playoff chances severely based on PFF’s simulation engine.
What would a season look like with Jordan Love as QB1? pic.twitter.com/V6VJ6lpe7J
— PFF (@PFF) June 10, 2021
The Packers are set to enter the 2021 season with Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard as their top wide receivers. They brought back unrestricted free-agent Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones on a four-year, $48 million contract and retained restricted free-agent tight end Robert Tonyan for $3.4 million but only addressed the wide receiver position by drafting Clemson’s Amari Rodgers in the third round.
The Packers haven’t taken a wide receiver in the top two rounds of the NFL draft since selecting Adams in 2014.
Rodgers would stand to lose out on his entire $14.7 million 2021 salary, and the Packers could go after even more money pursuant to Article 4, Section 9(a)(vi) of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement. Should Green Bay elect to seek forfeiture of Rodgers’ remaining signing bonus prorations from his 2018 extension as well as the $6.8 million roster bonus he earned earlier this offseason, the Packers could stand to recoup $29.8 million. Throwing in the $500,000 workout bonus that Rodgers already missed out on earlier this offseason, that’s a total of $45 million in cash and cap savings for the Green Bay Packers.
Teams generally do not choose to go after previously paid money when players elect to retire, with recent examples being Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. However, it’s not unprecedented, and the Detroit Lions did just that when star wide receiver Calvin Johnson retired. Given the tumultuous nature of the relationship between Rodgers and the Packers this offseason, perhaps Green Bay chooses to go that route. Considering Rodgers is not the only disgruntled star player in Green Bay, it might not be the best look for the Packers to get a bit ugly with their 16-year veteran leader.
Green Bay currently projects to be roughly $35 million over the 2022 salary cap ceiling of $208.2 million, so while the last thing they probably wanted out of this offseason was to lose the reigning MVP, Rodgers’ retirement would go a very long way in clearing up their books going forward — a mere consolation prize for an otherwise tumultuous ending to the Rodgers-Adams era.