There have been some conflicting reports about whether or not the Green Bay Packers want quarterback Aaron Rodgers to return to the team for the 2023 season. The number one question to keep in mind if you care about keeping up with Rodgers’ future and playing career would be: does it matter how much he’s wanted?
A few days ago Bob McGinn reported that the Packers are “disgusted” with Rodgers, and there has been some follow-up reporting from other sources that indicate the Packers are ready and excited to see what they have in fourth year quarterback Jordan Love.
Tom Pelissero recently reported quite the opposite on Rich Eisen’s show, essentially saying that if Rodgers is willing to “buy-in” then the Packers will accept him with open arms. Now, the degree to which either angle of reporting is true is pointless to debate, what’s slightly more important is what has already been stated by Packers GM Brian Gutekunst.
Brian Gutekunst (probably) Wants Rodgers Back
Gutekunst’s words tend to support a little of both sides, which isn’t shocking, but of course he did say that the Packers want Rodgers to return for the 2023 season and possibly beyond. We all know to take that sort of sentiment with a grain of salt, as saying this also helps to elevate their franchise player’s trade value. However, there was something else interesting about the general manager’s end-of-season press conference.
Gutekunst did also seem to imply that it’s at least somewhat important to him that Aaron Rodgers attends offseason training activities, something the quarterback hasn’t done in several years. “When guys are together, first of all, I think there’s more energy in the building [and] certainly when your quarterback and leader’s in the building,” Gutekunst said when asked about whether he thinks Rodgers should be attending voluntary team activities in the offseason. He continued, saying, “We invest a lot in these guys and we would certainly like that investment back from all of our guys.”
The real words spoken by Gutekunst seem to support Pelissero’s reporting angle which is that the Packers want Rodgers back as long as he buys in and shows a little more effort in participating with the team in the offseason. To reiterate; it may not ultimately matter which reports are more substantiated. The most important question may actually just be: what does Aaron Rodgers want to do? That question has not been answered yet, and according to Rodgers anybody speaking for him in that regard doesn’t actually know anything about the subject.
How Rodgers’ Decision Plays a Factor
If Aaron Rodgers truly wants to stay with the team, and if he “buys in” to the degree that would satisfy the Packers’ front office, he will be their starting quarterback in 2023. If Aaron Rodgers wants to retire, he will simply do so, although this seems like the least likely outcome. These two options seem fairly self-explanatory, and there’s not much else to be said.
Here’s where things get a bit less simple; if Aaron Rodgers wants to play for a different team he has probably earned the right to have a say in what team that is. The absence of a no-trade clause in his contract means that Rodgers doesn’t have inherent leverage in such dealings, but he does have some less obvious leverage. Rodgers could artificially hurt his own trade value by attempting to leak the team’s supposed interest in shipping him off, or his own interest in forcing his way out.
Rodgers can also attempt to “retire block” a trade if the Packers tell him they are trading him to a destination he ultimately disagrees with. The degree to which either of these strategies would work is yet to be seen, but if he does decide that he wants to leave, it would probably be best for the Packers to keep everything in house.
To Sum it all Up:
If Aaron Rodgers and the Packers can agree on a few acceptable trade destinations, and if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t mind his new team being down a few draft picks, the Packers may be able to initiate a bidding war for the four-time MVP. For instance; if Aaron Rodgers is okay with going to the Jets or the Raiders, but the Packers at least seem publicly inclined to keep him around, his trade price goes up. This being opposed to a situation where it seems like the Packers want him out as soon as possible, in which case teams will know that they don’t exactly have to break the bank on a trade.
What Aaron Rodgers wants, and ultimately what his actions in the near future display, is going to matter the most in terms of what his future ends up looking like. Whether his decisions should be respected because that’s the smart business move, or because he deserves that courtesy after 18 years in Green Bay is up for debate, but it feels clear that the Packers have their hands at least somewhat tied.
Barring some sort of outrageously specific public statements about his future plans, the Packers will probably need to keep all conversations between them and their current QB private in order to find a solution that benefits everyone.——————
Zack is a college student and cheesehead from California. When he’s not in class or writing, you can find him talking about the Packers on Twitter at @Zack_Upchurch.
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