Aaron Rodgers wants you to know that the media inflames stories when there’s no other content to create. Aaron Rodgers also wants you to know nearly every major detail reported over the last three months is true. In a long, candid, and sometimes meandering press conference after the Green Bay Packers’ first training camp practice on Wednesday, Rodgers unloaded on a team that, in his opinion, does not treat veterans with respect, has not shown him the kind of support he deserves, and may not actually change much. He also failed to say whether he wants to be back after this year — but that is a question for another day.
Rodgers opened the media availability with a four minute answer on the events since February, providing clarity, at least from his perspective, on how we got to this point with him and the Green Bay Packers.
We previously outlined the years of grievances partially aired by Rodgers at his press conference Wednesday, but he went into fine detail around just what went on this offseason, starting immediately after the NFC Championship Game loss. To better inform the context around those events, we added reporting that supports, denies, or adds context to Rodgers’ version of the events. It’s important to remember this is just one side of the story, but given how much is backed up by independent reporting, we can have some confidence this is how events played out with the Packers.
February: Rodgers expresses desire to be more involved in personnel decisions
The exact quote from Rodgers is, “I just expressed my desire to be more involved in conversations that directly affected my job.” He went on to name a laundry list of players he felt were let go or poorly treated by the Packers on the way out the door.
Context: This mindset echoes what James Jones told Colin Cowherd earlier this summer about the root of Rodgers’ problem with the Packers.
February: Rodgers wants a new contract
It’s unclear exactly when this happened, but Rodgers later references events into March so it’s safe to assume this included or was an extension of the above conversations. His words: “And then it progressed from there into a commitment for the 2021 season and beyond, that really wasn’t given at any time.”
He later added “It seemed natural based on the way I played to at least have a conversation about it. There wasn’t a conversation, not until into May.”
Context: Myriad reports put Rodgers feeling like a “lame duck” in his current situation, understanding the team could move off him after the 2021 season. The Packers offered a slew of public shows of faith from Matt LaFleur and Brian Gutekunst that they wanted him to be there, but no concrete evidence such as a contract extension. Rodgers, for his part, says he felt he earned that and an MVP season certainly reflect that.
Perhaps more importantly, the Packers wanted to restructure Rodgers’ deal according to Ian Rapaport, which could have given Rodgers more assurances at least through 2021 and likely 2022, but no new contract. It’s not about the money except for when it’s about the money. And in this case it’s not about the money per se, it’s about the Packers not even considering offering him more after his MVP campaign.
February: Rodgers wants to help recruit
This has been no secret. Rodgers has made comments in the past about knowing his role, but said little about his desire to be more involved in picking players. This appears to be a main gripe for him, one potentially quelled by whatever agreement is in place now between him and the team. He mentioned both free agency and the draft, particularly through his agency and his own workouts with NFL players, to act as a “consultant” to the team on personnel issues.
Context: Again, there are a plethora of reports suggesting Rodgers wanted to be more involved in picking players, in being more aggressive pursuing draft help, and signing free agents. We don’t even need reports for this one though, as Rodgers himself expressed frustration in an interview after the 2020 draft about not getting a receiver or knowing Jordan Love would be the pick. Mike Silver also reported in the spring of 2021 that Rodgers had reached out to at least two players about joining him, though Mike Garafolo also reported Rodgers told potential free agents he wouldn’t be in Green Bay.
In addition, Ty Dunne reported Rodgers’ reluctance to restructure his contract led to uncertainty with the Packers and an inability to add pieces.
March: Rodgers quasi-trade request
QB1 might take umbrage with this characterization, but he told the team “If I’m not part of the future, instead of letting me be a lame duck quarterback, if you want to make a change and move forward, then go ahead and do it.”
In other words: If you want to break up with me, do it now. The only way that could reasonably happen is through a trade. Rodgers provided some context of his own here because he says after reaching out to the Packers about wanting to be more involved and wanting some security, he got neither from the team and felt that was a signal to him that they were ready to move on as soon as 2021 (Rodgers says this outright) but at least in 2022.
Context: Let’s start with Adam Schefter’s first bombshell that Rodgers doesn’t want to be in Green Bay. Was it ever truly that bad? It’s hard to say, but Rodgers going on the record saying he told the team if they wanted to move on they could move on is as close as a superstar player will come to admit he told the team he wanted out while not actually saying so.
Rapaport’s reporting confirms the Packers offered a restructure but not an extension, at least not right away.
April(?): Rodgers hints at potential trade
Maybe it was just a tortured metaphor, but given the context, it’s easy to conclude Rodgers believes there were trades on the table for him and it was those trades which forced the Packers to make a different contract offer.
“An analogy that you guys would understand: you guys have a fantastic year of work, you write some great stories, you go to your boss and say, ‘I had an incredible year. I think I deserve a pay raise and some security.’ And the boss says, ‘Ehh, let’s just see how it goes.’ A couple months down the line, you get another job opportunity. You go back to your boss and say, ‘Hey I got this amazing job opportunity.’ They say ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, no, no, no, we love you. We do want you to stick around We do care about you.’ Just probably not the same feeling.”
The rest of that implied sentence is, “as if it had happened before the other opportunity.” In short, because the contract offer didn’t come until after Rodgers threatened to walk and teams wanted to trade for him, the support felt hollow.
Context: Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch can’t quite agree on who called who and when, but the 49ers wanted to make a deal for Rodgers, a fact Shanahan admitted openly. The Broncos were heavily rumored and Gutekunst said he got one offer on draft night to which he said no. Washington Post reported Nicki Jhabvala reported no “back-and-forth” with the Packers and Broncos, which could just explain what Gutekunst described.
May: Packers make too-litte too-late contract offer
According to Rodgers, the Packers finally made an offer to calm the storm, but only after Schefter dropped the bomb (as assertion that undercuts his insistence that his team didn’t leak the original unhappiness).
“Post the draft, I think what basically happened was they said, ‘We’ll give you some money now. We’ll see if we can throw some money at you.’ I said from the start it wasn’t about the money.”
According to reports though, it wasn’t exactly “some money,” but top dollar. Still, the relationship already suffered a devastating blow and as mentioned above, only came after Schefter’s report of Rodgers’ unhappiness and trade interest from other teams.
Context: Just a little over a week ago, Schefter reported the Packers offered a two-year extension that “would have tied him to Green Bay for five more seasons and him him the highest paid QB and player in football.”
Various: Rodgers mulls retirement
Rodgers made sure to point out he’s not Brett Favre when Rodgers came to town, but he did admit he considered retiring through this offseason process.
“At various points, deciding if I wanted to even keep playing but the fire still burns and I wanted to be on a football team. We got some things figure out in the last few days and I’m here.”
Context: Reports support this, as a barrage of stories suggested the three-time MVP would rather retire than play for the Packers. This isn’t exactly the story Rodgers told, so it’s hard to know if the drama actually intensified to those levels, but Rodgers confirming he did, in fact, consider retirement should be seen as significant. Certainly he wants us to feel that way.