In the ongoing saga of Aaron Rodgers and his potential breakup with the Green Bay Packers, which has had hints for a while but exploded into a full-blown story during the NFL draft when Adam Schefter reported that Rodgers wants out of Green Bay, one voice had been notably absent:
That changed on Monday, when Rodgers agreed to an interview with Kenny Mayne on the longtime SportsCenter anchor’s final show.
While the interview revealed no bombshells akin to Julio Jones saying “I’m out of there” earlier this week, three things stood out to me.
Number one: When asked specifically by Mayne “Are you demanding a trade?” Rodgers completely sidestepped it. If the record needed to be set straight in that regard, this was a chance to do it. Rodgers punted — or at least opted for a short field goal on a critical late fourth down.
Number two: Instead of answering that question directly, this is what Rodgers said.
“With my situation, look it’s never been about the draft pick, picking Jordan (Love). “I love Jordan; he’s a great kid. [We’ve had] a lot of fun to work together. Love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay. An incredible 16 years. It’s just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting that it is about the people that make the thing go. It’s about character, it’s about culture, it’s about doing things the right way.”
I read two things into that: When you start talking about how long you have been someplace, it starts to feel like you are thinking about it in the past tense. And it was clearly a shot at Packers management and specifically GM Brian Gutekunst.
Number three: As much as Rodgers wants to say it isn’t about the draft pick, it is. Rodgers seems to have a window into the Packers’ thinking when he said that when he played at an MVP level in 2020 — instead of merely top-5 QB level — he messed up the plan to move on from him after that season and hand things over to Love.
“A lot of this was put in motion last year, and the wrench was just kind of thrown into it when I won MVP and played the way I played last year,” Rodgers said. “This is just kind of, I think, a spill-out of all that.”
That would make sense. In order to maximize Love’s value, the Packers would want to have at least three years with him in the starting role on his rookie contract. Remember, Rodgers had to wait three years behind Brett Favre before he got his chance in a similarly messy divorce. But rookie contracts were different back then.
Green Bay gambled that Rodgers was on the decline and that this offseason would be the time to trade him. Instead, he won MVP and might have taken them to the Super Bowl if Gutekunst hadn’t used a first-round pick on a QB who didn’t play.
So Rodgers is probably thinking this: If your plan was to trade me, which indicates you didn’t want me and/or believe in me, then do it. The bridge has already been burned.
Rodgers is notoriously stubborn. NFL decisionmakers tend to be the same. If you went into the Monday appearance wondering if the two sides might come together and fix this, I think you came away edging a little more toward the opposite.