The Green Bay Packers are preparing for training camp with pure hope that Aaron Rodgers returns for the 2021 season. Amid a bitter dispute between the two sides, only one resolution might be possible to bring the reigning NFL MVP back this fall.
Rodgers wants out of Green Bay due to frustrations stemming from the organization’s culture and the way the front office has treated key players in recent years. With general manager Brian Gutekunst and CEO Mark Murphy both locked into their respective roles, the 37-year-old quarterback is ready to leave.
But the Packers do hold the leverage in this situation. Skipping training camp and the 2021 season would cost Rodgers more than $20 million and the Packers won’t cave to his trade demand. So, the All-Pro quarterback is deciding between taking a massive financial hit to prove a point or returning to play with teammates and coaches that he likes.
While Rodgers’ issues with the Packers are deeply rooted and centered at the top of the organization, it’s possible things could be worked out. ESPN’s NFL insider Dan Graziano appeared Monday on "Get Up," sharing how a contract alteration could be a temporary fix to the problems in Green Bay.
“My understanding is that an adjustment has to be made to the contract that allows Aaron Rodgers some degree of control over what the ending of his career is going to be.”
As recently detailed in a column, the contract might hold the key to the Packers’ Super Bowl hopes in 2021.
At this point, Rodgers realizes he isn’t playing for a different team in 2021. He recently even set a timetable for his decision about the upcoming season and many around the NFL believe they know what it will be.
Adjusting Rodgers’ contract might work best for everyone. While Green Bay does have leverage over the face of its franchise, there is also a lot at stake. If Rodgers sits out, this team is no longer a Super Bowl contender. Even more worrisome, a quarterback who the team acknowledges isn’t ready will be thrust into an impossible situation to win.
Green Bay’s decision to draft Jordan Love signaled its long-terms plans, a vision that didn’t include the future Hall of Fame quarterback. After winning his third NFL MVP award, Rodgers demonstrated that he is still one of the best players in the NFL. Before the Packers can move on from him, as they have done with so many of his former teammates, Rodgers wants to control his fate.
The simplest solution might be adjusting the contract so Rodgers either becomes a free agent in 2022 or must be traded by a certain date. Since Green Bay wouldn’t want to lose him for free, he could ask to be moved to one of several teams on a list he creates.
One thing feels certain, however. We will not see Rodgers playing for the Packers in the 2022 NFL season.