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Green Bay Packers expected Aaron Rodgers to stick to contract, return in 2023

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

When the Green Bay Packers made quarterback Aaron Rodgers one of the highest-paid NFL players ever, they anticipated at least a two-year window as Super Bowl contenders. After missing the playoffs in 2022, the future Hall of Famer might have played his last snap at Lambeau Field.

Facing the Detroit Lions in a Week 18 elimination game, the 39-year-old quarterback ended things with one of his worst performances of the season. He posted an 83.1 QB rating, his fourth-lowest mark of the season, and ended things without a single 300-yard performance in 17 games.

Most alarming for Green Bay is how Rodgers performed in critical situations. He posted a 69.9 QB rating in tie games with a 57.9% completion rate and ended the year with a 79.3 QB rating and just five touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

It’s the last thing the Packers expected when they signed Rodgers to a three-year, $150 million extension in March 2022. However, Green Bay also reportedly signed that deal with the impression Rodgers would stick around for multiple seasons.

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According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Packers believed Rodgers was committing them for at least two years and possibly three when he signed the extension. Green Bay’s belief was backed up by the statement general manager Brian Gutekunst made to reporters in his end-of-season press conference.

“We made a really big commitment to him last offseason, so I think as we did that it wasn’t certainly for just this year. He’s going to take his time, and the communication will be pretty constant as we move forward.”

Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst on QB Aaron Rodgers (H/T ESPN)

Green Bay structured the entire extension to bet on a short window for Super Bowl contention. The franchise took significant long-term cap flexibility away, putting it on a path for a challenging rebuild by 2025, with the idea that Rodgers would stick around until at least 2024.

  • Aaron Rodgers contract: $31.623 million cap hit (2023), $40.3 million dead cap if traded

All of that is now up in the air. Rodgers didn’t provide his Packers’ jersey to Lions’ wide receiver Jameson Williams when the rookie asked for a jersey swap at the end of Week 18. Seemingly keeping it for its sentimental value, he also shared a moment with close friend and long-time teammate Randall Cobb on the field and then in the tunnel after the game.

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A final decision likely won’t come for weeks, with Rodgers weighing whether he wants to retire or return then if he wants to finish his career in Green Bay. It’s the last place the Packers expected to be in at this time of year when they signed the deal, but it’s one of the costs of dealing with Rodgers. If he doesn’t play for the Packers in 2023, Jordan Love will step in as the starter.