Aaron Rodgers Returns To Green Bay Packers, Addresses Issues With Team (UPDATED)

Photo from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

By Terrance Turner

April 28, 2021 (Updated July 28)

This story depicts a fluid situation and will be frequently updated.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reportedly wants out of Green Bay.

NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported the bombshell development: “Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers is so disgruntled with the Green Bay Packers that he has told some within the organization that he does not want to return to the team, league and team sources told ESPN on Thursday.

The Packers are aware of his feelings, concerned about them and have had team president Mark Murphy, general manager Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur each fly out on separate trips to meet with Rodgers at various points this offseason, sources told ESPN.”

But the writing may already be on the proverbial wall. Former ESPN host Trey Wingo tweeted today that the two parties have been engaged in a “bleep show” for days. According to Wingo, Rodgers has already informed the team that he’s headed out the door:

Over the past week (and even before that), teams have been calling, ESPN says. “The San Francisco 49ers called the Packers on Wednesday night, a source told ESPN, and the Los Angeles Rams inquired about Rodgers in January before they traded for Matthew Stafford.The Packers quickly dismissed the Rams’ overtures, the source said.” (The 49ers part is especially interesting: Rodgers, who was born in California, had originally wanted to play for San Francisco when he began his career.)

But reporter Tom Pelissero put the brakes on these headlines, saying that there’s “zero” chance of the Packers trading Rodgers. While teams have inquired about Rodgers this offseason, no team has made a trade offer for the three-time MVP, a source told ESPN. The Packers have even offered to extend Rodgers’ contract, sources told ESPN. But veteran NFL reporter Ian Rapoport says that negotiations have broken down:

Why is Rodgers unhappy? Schefter says: “Rodgers is unhappy for a variety of reasons, with some of it dating to last year’s draft when the Packers didn’t inform him before trading up to draft a quarterback with their first-round pick. (The Packers selected Jordan Love.) Some took this as a sign that his days in Green Bay could be numbered.” But after Rodgers’ sensational performance in the 2020 season, today’s news comes as a shock.

No NFL player has ever been traded after winning the MVP award in the previous season. The only MVPs to not return to their team in the season after winning the award were Norm Van Brocklin (retired after winning in 1960) and Jim Brown (retired after winning in 1965), per ESPN. Rodgers won the NFL MVP Award in February, after a stellar season in which he threw 48 touchdowns.

During his acceptance speech, Rodgers casually mentioned that he’d gotten engaged. It was later revealed that his bride-to-be is actress Shailene Woodley, whom he’d been quietly dating for all of six months. The two visited Disney World in Florida weeks ago, while Rodgers was doing a guest hosting stint on the show “Jeopardy!” Rapoport adds:

UPDATE (May 1, 2021): Rodgers broke his silence today. In an off-camera conversation with Mike Tirico, Rodgers confirmed that he is discontented with the organization. The two spoke at the Kentucky Derby; Rodgers didn’t want to speak on camera. But Tirico relayed his sentiments via Twitter today, saying that Rodgers was “disappointed” about how the matter had become public.

UPDATE (MAY 6, 2021): When Adam Schefter “broke” the news about Aaron Rodgers wanting out of Green Bay — one week ago today — I went into a frenzy. I brought together data and alternate sources to form the bulk of my story, which was based partly on Schefter’s reporting. I quickly crafted this story (and took time away from packing for an upcoming trip) because I believed this to be a breaking story. It in fact was not.

Today, Schefter admitted that he had been sitting on the story for weeks, only releasing it on the day of the NFL Draft. In an interview with host Dan Patrick, Schefter conceded that he had written and released the story without new info. Schefter cited an interview Rodgers had given after the Packers lost the AFC Championship Game to the Buccaneers. That interview gave the impression that Rodgers had “unhappiness” or “uncertainty” about his future, Schefter said. Schefter eventually admitted that he had released the story with no new information. But that revelation came only after some direct questioning by Patrick.

“So you chose to release the news on Draft Day?” Patrick asked.

“That is absolutely accurate, yes,” Schefter replied.

“So it wasn’t something that you got information about…?” Patrick asked.

“No,” Schefter answered. “And it was nothing that morning that came in.”

Patrick noted that, according to Schefter, his information “didn’t come from Rodgers, didn’t come from the Packers, I was wondering: OK, you’re not gonna tell me your source–“

“Dan!” Schefter insisted. “There’s not a source.

Interesting. Schefter wrote in his article that “league and team sources told ESPN on Thursday.” But now he’s revealing that the story wasn’t based on anything that “came in” that Thursday morning. And that “there’s not a source”. Does that mean sources didn’t tell ESPN anything on Thursday? Or that there was no “source” at all? Because that would be a lie.

Schefter claimed that “it just happened to be draft day” when he released the story. Unclear how truthful that is. Updates will be made public as they become available.

UPDATE (MAY 26, 2021): While voluntary offseason workouts begin in Green Bay, Rodgers is in Hawaii with his fiancee. The two were photographed on vacation with Miles Teller and his wife Keleigh, who shared the photos on Instagram:

UPDATE (July 15, 2021): Last week, Rodgers took part in a round of golf with Tom Brady. While he was on a golf cart, broadcaster Brian Anderson (B.A.) asked Rodgers about his future with the Packers. Would he be QB in their game against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 17?

Yeah, I don’t know, BA. We’ll see,” Rodgers said.

Charles Barkley, supplying commentary from the Turner studios, pressed Rodgers. “Hey Aaron, we go way back. You can just tell me, I’ll keep it a secret. I promise I will not put it anywhere.”

Rodgers’ elegant non-answer referenced the annual American Century Championship celebrity tournament in Nevada. “Charles, I’ll tell you this week in Tahoe,” he said.

UPDATE (July 26, 2021): It appears that there may be progress on the Aaron Rodgers front. NFL Insider Ian Rapoport says that Rodgers has indicated to those close to him that he will return to Green Bay for the upcoming season:

UPDATE (3:28 PM): Rapoport is now saying that Rodgers and the Packers are now close to agreement on a reworked deal that would bring him back to Green Bay for this upcoming season.

Schefter is claiming that the deal includes a number of concessions:

Schefter is claiming that the deal involves some concessions:

  • The 2023 year in Rodgers’ contract — the last one in his current deal — would be voided, with no tags allowed in the future.
  • The Packers would agree to review Rodgers’ situation at the end of this season.
  • Rodgers’ contract would be adjusted with no loss of income to give the Packers more cap room now.
  • Mechanisms will be put in place to address Rodgers’ issues with the team.

UPDATE (July 28, 2021): Today, Rodgers reported to Packers training camp and practiced with the team. Then, in a surprisingly candid press conference, he opened up about his issues with the team. NFL reporter Tom Pelissero began the presser by asking directly: “What was all this about for you?”

“Well, that’s kind of a loaded question,” Rodgers answered. “I think it was a lot of things that transpired. This wasn’t a draft day thing. Started the conversation in February, after the season ended, and I just expressed my desire to be more involved in conversations that directly affected my job. Also, I wanted to help the organization maybe learn from some of the mistakes in the past — in my opinion — about the way some of the outgoing veterans were treated and just the fact that we didn’t retain a number of players that I feel were core players to our foundation, our locker room. High character guys.”

“I’m talking about Charles Woodson, Jordy Nelson, Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, James Jones,” Rodgers said. “Guys who were exceptional players for us, great locker room guys. High character guys. Many of them who weren’t offered a contract at all or were extremely low-balled or were maybe, in my opinion, not given the respect on the way out that guys of their status and stature and high character deserve.

And then it kind of progressed from there into a commitment for the 2021 season, and beyond, that really wasn’t given at any time. So, for me, I had to assess the situation — not necessarily wanting to be a lame duck quarterback especially after an MVP season, as I think you can understand. And then the other part in February was wanting to be a part of conversations involving free agents which has never happened in my career.”

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