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Packers’ Matt LaFleur: ‘No debate’ on wanting Aaron Rodgers back

Sportsnaut
Jan 22, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts while leaving the field after an NFC Divisional playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 22, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts while leaving the field after an NFC Divisional playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

An offseason of unknowns has begun for the Green Bay Packers, especially with regard to whether or not future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers will remain with the team next season or retire.

As opposed to the controversial offseason of a year ago when a disgruntled Rodgers and his only NFL employer seemed destined for a split, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur made it very clear Monday that the team wants their 17-year veteran to return for 2022.

“Every conversation that I’ve been involved in with Gutey (general manager Brian Gutekunst) and Russ (director of football operations Russ Ball) and Mark (president Mark Murphy), we’re all on the same page there,” LaFleur said Monday. “There’s no debate.”

Speaking to the media on the heels of Green Bay’s stunning 13-10 upset loss Saturday against the San Francisco 49ers, LaFleur said he met with his quarterback Monday and while a decision was far off, there was no question the Packers organization hopes for a return.

“I sat down and talked to Aaron today for quite some time,” LaFleur said. “I think we’re all a little numb to the situation right now and, so, I would say that what we talked about, I’m definitely gonna keep between him and myself, but we’re hopeful that he’ll be back next year, obviously.

“This guy has done so much for such a long period of time for this organization, for this city, for this team, and so I want to be respectful of his process. Whatever he needs to go through to make the best decision for himself, and, certainly, we would love for him to be a Packer and be a Packer until the day he decides to retire.”

The Packers, who lost a playoff game as the NFC’s top seed for the second year in a row, must quickly pick up the pieces after becoming the first team in NFL history to win 13 or more games in three straight seasons without advancing to the Super Bowl.

The 38-year-old Rodgers did not disappoint this season, throwing for two or more touchdown passes in 15 of his 17 games and tossing up elite numbers (4,115 passing yards, 37 touchdown passes, four interceptions) for what may turn out to be the fourth MVP season of his career.

But he admitted after an ordinary Saturday winter night against the Niners (20-for-29, 225 yards) at Lambeau Field that while he will not drag out a decision about his future past the start of free agency on March 16, he also doesn’t plan to stick around if the team decides to start from scratch.

“I don’t want to be part of a rebuild if I’m going to keep playing, so (there will be) a lot of decisions in the next couple months,” Rodgers said of the Packers.

The Packers are projected to be $44.8 million over the 2022 salary cap and other major decisions share the front burner with the Rodgers outcome. Wide receiver Davante Adams has said publicly he wants to be the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver and said last year there will be no hometown discount to stay in Green Bay.

To keep Rodgers, the Packers would need to sign him to a long-term extension. His cap charge in 2022 is $46 million, negotiated intentionally by Rodgers last offseason when his disdain for the front office came to light.

The mood has since shifted. If it’s up to his head coach, there is no decision from the Green Bay standpoint as LaFleur said he wants the Packers to do “everything in our power to try to get him back here and making sure he’s comfortable with the direction of our football team.”

“There’s no plan for a rebuild,” said LaFleur. “You get this close, obviously win a lot of football games, and we know in order for there not to be that, he’s gotta be a part of this thing. I don’t think that’s anybody’s intention.”

–Field Level Media