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Aaron Rodgers reportedly not expected to return to Green Bay Packers in 2021

Matt Johnson

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While the Green Bay Packers refuse to even entertain the thought of an Aaron Rodgers trade, it seems the reigning NFL MVP has moved on from the franchise.

Rodgers, who asked the Packers to trade him, remains disgruntled with the front office and general manager Brian Gutekunst over the franchise’s unwillingness to make a long-term commitment to him. Now, a saga that really kicked off after the Jordan Love pick, could lead to a messy separation between the two sides.

The Packers have made efforts to repair the relationship and refuse to acknowledge that a split is possible. Both Gutekunst and team CEO Mark Murphy stated their desire to keep Rodgers and won’t even consider the idea of trading him. But while many in Green Bay are trying to remain optimistic, it seems everyone else around the NFL sees the writing on the wall.

Read More: Aaron Rodgers ‘dug in’ on trade, wants to play elsewhere in 2021

“I can’t find anyone in the football world right now, that I talk to, that believes Aaron Rodgers is returning. Most think this is it, that Aaron Rodgers is done with Green Bay.”

ESPN’s Dianna Russini on Get Up

Green Bay does have the most leverage and can control the outcome of this situation. Rodgers is under contract through 2023, but it’s widely been believed that he wouldn’t be back with the organization after next season due to the structure of his deal.

But this is a complex situation and a story that will start unfolding in June, with both sides making moves to provide themselves with more leverage and options for the upcoming season.

Will Aaron Rodgers end his career in Green Bay?

Will Aaron Rodgers return to the Packers?

Aaron Rodgers
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Packers signed Blake Bortles on Wednesday, a move that does have some impact on the situation. Green Bay always keeps three quarterbacks on its roster during the summer and whether Rodgers attended summer practices or held out, Gutekunst was going to add another signal-caller to the roster.

But adding a quarterback with starting experience and a familiarity with the coaching staff is noteworthy. If there was no tension with Rodgers, Green Bay likely signs a young quarterback to take some reps in training camp and only considers him for a spot on the practice squad. Bortles might be better equipped to start in 2021 than Love, so there is meaning behind the signing.

Related: Green Bay Packers icons hint Aaron Rodgers could return in 2021

For now, everyone is focused on what happens in June. Trading Rodgers after June 1 would benefit the Packers’ salary cap and it’s also the time of year when mandatory practices begin. If Rodgers is committed to staying away from the team in an effort to force a trade, it will come at a cost.

  • Mandatory minicamp (June 15-17): Green Bay Packer scan fine Rodgers $95,877 for missing the three-day session.
  • Green Bay Packers training camp (July): There is a $50,000 mandatory fine for each day missed and it can’t be rescinded.
  • Sitting out 2021 NFL preseason: Rodgers will be fined the equivalent of a game check ($816,000) for each game skipped

Read More: Aaron Rodgers trade to this NFL team likelier to happen in 2021

Sitting out the 2021 season, pulling a Carson Palmer by retiring, is on the table for Rodgers. Much like Green Bay has a fallback plan in Bortles, Rodgers might have a shot to become the full-time host of Jeopardy!. There’s also a lot on the line for the Packers if their All-Pro quarterback doesn’t play.

Green Bay has a talented roster, but it will go from a Super Bowl contender to a bottom-10 team if Love or Bortles is starting. For a team with limited cap space next offseason and the looming threat of Davante Adams leaving, the Packers could go from a top contender to sitting near the bottom of the NFL standings.

Ultimately, that’s why a decision might need to be made this summer. Either the franchise gives Rodgers the contract he wants or they trade him for multiple first-round picks and start building for the future. Neither outcome is ideal, but it’s also what happens when a general manager attempts to build for the future during a Super Bowl window.