On Sunday, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was asked about rookie wide receiver Christian Watson — fresh off of eight touchdowns in his last four games — as it related to his upcoming retirement decision this offseason. After touching on how he could have played with future NFL Pro Bowlers DeSean Jackson and Marshawn Lynch had he stayed an extra year at the college level with the California Golden Bears, Rodgers said this: “It’ll all factor into it, but there has to be a mutual desire on both sides.”
Aaron Rodgers asked about Christian Watson’s rise potentially being a reason he returns in 2023:— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) December 4, 2022
“I left Cal and I could’ve came back with DeSean Jackson at receiver and Marshawn Lynch in the backfield … I say that because the way Christian has developed…”
Full quote: pic.twitter.com/SeZdCNebhO
A good amount of time on Monday was spent trying to figure out what Rodgers meant by “mutual desire”, as Packers head coach Matt LaFleur and general manager Brian Gutekunst both met with the media with Green Bay kicking off their late-season bye week.
When LaFleur was asked if he wanted Rodgers back in green and gold next season, he stated, “Yeah, absolutely. Of course.” He would later call backup quarterback Jordan Love a player he has confidence in and said that having both Rodgers and Love on the same team is “a great problem” to have.
Gutekunst didn’t dance around the question, either. The general manager claimed, “We went through something in the offseason where there was a very big commitment on our part. It wasn’t certainly for one year.” This might be where the Packers organization and Rodgers don’t see eye-to-eye.
Hey everyone, just wanted to clear some things up; YES I will be playing with the @packers next year, however, reports about me signing a contract are inaccurate, as are the supposed terms of the contract I “signed”. I’m very excited to be back #year18❤️— Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) March 8, 2022
When the news broke that Rodgers signed a four-year extension that is potentially the most uniquely-structured deal in the sport, the back-to-back MVP pushed back on the contract terms and only said that he would return for one more season. Despite that, Rodgers carries a $99.8 million dead cap in 2023 if the team attempts to release him and is set to make $59.5 million in cash next year.
Gutekunst did say that he hasn’t discussed this topic with Rodgers, as they save the subject for the off-season. In-season, Gutekunst claimed, his communication with Rodgers is about the structure of the team.
Near the end of the presser, the first one Gutekunst has been made available for since the start of the regular season, he reiterated, “Whatever comes with having great quarterbacks is worth it,” in regard to the Rodgers and Love questions.
Last week, 83 percent of our readers said they wanted to see more playing time for Love, who came off the bench to complete six of nine passes against the Philadelphia Eagles the game prior. The Packers don’t seem to be ready for a transition of power at the quarterback position, though. By all accounts, the team wants Rodgers to come back as their starter next year. The ball’s in his court now, as it has been since he signed that extension.