The Green Bay Packers and star Aaron Rodgers find themselves in the center of NFL drama for the second consecutive offseason. A year after the Packers drafted Jordan Love, the franchise and its future Hall of Famer are once again at odds over Rodgers’ future.
It started after the NFC Championship Game, when Rodgers openly discussed his uncertain future. It immediately sparked trade rumors and led to teams reaching out, but head coach Matt LaFleur and CEO Mark Murphy quickly shut down any speculation.
The Packers moved on and started preparing for the offseason. But with limited cap space, the team could only re-sign Aaron Jones and cornerback Kevin King. As its opponents grew stronger through aggressive moves via trade and free-agent signings, Green Bay largely stood pat.
Financial flexibility could have been created. A contract extension, ensuring Rodgers was more than a lame-duck quarterback, would create cap space to add talent and it would also be a sign of commitment to Rodgers. When the Packers refused to explore an extension and admitted he doesn’t expect to finish his career in Green Bay, it sparked more speculation about his future.
Now, thanks to in-depth reporting from ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, many involved in the NFL aren’t holding their thoughts back on the situation. Most notably, a player agent provided perspective on Green Bay’s efforts to sign a player and why the organization is also not making any moves right now.
“I don’t know who’s really calling shots there, whether it’s (chief contract negotiator) Russ (Ball), Gutey, Murphy, whoever. But it’s screwing the Packers in a lot of ways right now because there’s just no cap space. They’ve called me about one of my players and said ‘Hey, this is where we are now, and until we get something big done — hint, hint — we don’t have any space.’ It’s kind of like a lose-lose situation right now. That’s what [is] surprising to me is, you’d think there would be a middle-ground situation to get something done.NFL agent on Aaron Rodgers’ contract and Green Bay Packers’ approach
As the agent says, the current situation isn’t good for anyone. Rodgers is questioning his future with the only franchise he’s ever known and is missing out on the team putting more weapons around him. Meanwhile, the Packers are seemingly on the verge of parting ways with another legendary quarterback and many believe they are making an ill-advised bet on a shaky quarterback prospect.
Right now, this is a PR battle that Rodgers is winning. He is serving as the guest Jeopardy! host, delivering little quips directed at the organization in the right moments and many believe Green Bay is making the mistake. Meanwhile, following the latest Packers’ misstep, the front office is looking worse than before.
NFL executive calls out Packers’ CEO for recent comments
After saying in January that the franchise would be idiots to move on from Rodgers, Murphy expressed a different sentiment in March. When asked directly by reporters, he refused to commit to the future Hall of Fame quarterback as the franchise’s long-term starter.
Unsurprisingly, this has led to more criticism from those working inside the league. As one executive told Demovsky, Murphy handled it extremely poorly and it only made the Packers look worse.
“The first thing I’m doing is not adding any outside stressors to this deal. I’m not sure why [Murphy] didn’t answer the questions the other day when you guys brought it up. That no-comment thing didn’t do anyone any good. It didn’t help Aaron, and it didn’t help the Packers.”Anonymous NFL executive on Green Bay Packers handling of Aaron Rodgers’ contract drama, via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky
This organization is no stranger to criticism in the past year. After trading up for Jordan Love, a move they likely didn’t need to make, general managers and scouts blasted the Packers for the selection. The pick doesn’t look any better a year later, with Love not leaving a strong impression in his rookie year.
It seems increasingly likely that Rodgers might be entering his final season with the Packers. While the return in a blockbuster trade might help stock this team with young talent, there will be even more criticism coming the organization’s way if Love doesn’t pan out.