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Aaron Rodgers downplays rumors of opt-out language in contract negotiations

The Packers’ QB said that any reports regarding the status of his new contract is purely “conjecture.”

NFL: Green Bay Packers-OTA Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

In a discussion with media covering the team on Monday following an open OTA practice, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers made it clear that any rumors about the status or details of his contract negotiations are just that: rumors.

Among other topics, Rodgers was asked what he thinks about reports about those negotiations that have leaked recently and will continue to come out over the summer, and it’s clear that he believes that there is no validity to them: “I don’t talk about it to the media and I don’t think my agent (does) either,” Rodgers said, adding that “a lot of it is just conjecture.”

The most notable report so far in the negotiations came over the weekend, when NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that Rodgers and his agent are trying to get an “opt-out” clause in his next contract. That type of language would give Rodgers the option to cancel the rest of his deal if he would so choose, either to become a free agent and potentially sign with another team or to gain leverage in negotiating a new deal with the Packers. Although Rodgers did not address that report specifically, he did joke that the late spring is “kind of a slow period for football right now,” and that “there’s not much to talk about.”

If there is indeed any news leaking out, Rodgers doesn’t believe it’s from his side, and he he isn’t worried about a deadline to get the details finalized on his new contract. “That’s why I’ve got my agent: he’s handling the conversations,” Rodgers said. “I’ve got two years left on my deal. I don’t have a drop-dead date. I expect to play at an MVP caliber level this year like I do ever year and I’m not worried about it.”

Still, Rodgers appears to admire players who were able to spend their entire careers in Green Bay. When asked about his investment in Wisconsin, including buying a home and a stake in the Milwaukee Bucks recently, Rodgers referenced some of the Lombardi-era Packers as influences: “When I first got to Green Bay, one of the fun things was to see at the first Fan Fest I was at was to see Max McGee and Bart Starr and Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston and some of the old greats. And it would be fun to have that connection still to the state and the team and the region.”

After seeing close friend and longtime Packer Jordy Nelson depart this offseason, however, to say nothing of Brett Favre’s acrimonious departure, Rodgers knows that his final career trajectory is not entirely under his control. “Every player would love to be able to pick when and how they finish up,” he said. “That usually doesn’t happen though. So I’m trying to play as well as I can for a number of years and hopefully that’s here the entire time.”

As for the 2018 season, Rodgers praised the new tight ends and receiver Randall Cobb, pointing to their potential roles this season as receiving weapons. First, he commented that “it’s fun to see us bring in some guys that size” at the tight end position (referring specifically to Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis), noting that their experience and veteran approach is welcome in the locker room.

Cobb, on the other hand, has dealt with several nagging injuries, and Rodgers feels that when healthy, the eighth-year wideout can still be a dangerous weapon. “When (Cobb is) healthy and playing for us, our offense is a lot different,” Rodgers said. “I think we saw it a couple of years ago against the Giants. When he came off some injuries and a disappointing season filled with multiple injuries. He had three touchdowns. Obviously one was a Hail Mary but he had two other really nice plays for us.

“He’s a tough cover. He really understands coverages and route concepts and soft spots in zones, stuff you can’t really teach ... He’s obviously a great friend of mine and I look for a resurgence from him as long as he can stay healthy.”

If Cobb does indeed return to the form that he displayed in 2014 with a healthy Nelson opposite him, the Packers’ offense should be in for a special season. And Rodgers is clearly planning to be around for several more great years, regardless of what anonymous reports regarding his contract negotiations say.