Relax, Packers fans. Aaron Rodgers isn’t going anywhere. As usual, some members of the media are trying to stir things up and are speculating about the possibility that the Packers franchise quarterback may want out of Green Bay. Well, barring a very unexpected occurrence such as retirement, rest assured that Rodgers will be the Packers starting quarterback in 2021.
The speculation started because of comments Rodgers made in his post-game press conference after the Packers loss to the Bucs in the NFC Championship Game. The quarterback said, “A lot of guys futures, they’re uncertain, myself included. There’s a lot of unknowns going into this offseason now. I’m going to have to take some time away, for sure, and clear my head and just kind of see what’s going on with everything.”
Immediately, the media started claiming this meant Rodgers wanted out of Green Bay. But the quarterback never said that.
While some members of the media try to get clicks and attention by speculating wildly about what teams Rodgers could be traded to, people in the know clearly indicated that wouldn’t be happening.
Brett Favre, Rodgers’ predecessor, was quick to quash the rumors. “I wouldn’t pay much attention to what he said,” Favre said the following day on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I’ve been there. It hurts, it’s painful. The last thing you want to do is think about next year because you just had a major disappointment. That’s what you’re hearing in that soundbite.”
Favre, who had his own issues with the Packers organization concerning his own repeated retirements and returns, was certain about how the franchise will handle this situation. “Look, there’s no way the Packers would do anything to jeopardize losing Aaron—unless Aaron just chooses to retire, which I would be shocked. The guy’s playing better now than he’s ever played. Without him, you certainly wouldn’t have been even close to where you were [Sunday]. I think the same will go for next year, and really, the next few years if he chooses to play.”
The presence of Jordan Love only added to the media’s speculation. The Packers traded up in the 2020 NFL Draft the former Utah State star and as Rodgers himself said, they didn’t just draft Love to have him sit on the bench forever. This season, Love was inactive for all 16 games in the regular season and both playoff contests. Still, with Rodgers coming off a likely MVP season, the time for Love in Green Bay isn’t now. Rodgers himself sat on the bench for three seasons behind Favre from 2005-2007.
NBC Sports then reported that Rodgers wants a new contract, citing an unidentified “league source.” Rodgers is under contract to the Packers through the end of the 2023 season. He is scheduled to make a base salary of $22.35 million in 2021 and then $25.5 in each of 2022 and 2023.
Rodgers, who is the prohibitive favorite to be named league MVP this season for the third time, is presently the fifth-highest paid quarterback with an average salary of $33.5 million per year. That puts him behind Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, Houston’s Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson of the Seahawks and Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh and puts him equal to the Rams Jared Goff.
Obviously, Rodgers is a better quarterback than all those players with the possible exception of Mahomes. Of course, who is the highest paid quarterback has a lot to do with when their contract expires, who has negotiating leverage, the overall salary cap situation and a few other factors, not just who is the league’s best quarterback.
But even if it’s true Rodgers wants a new contract, Packers president Mark Murphy made it clear the organization will work that out. Murphy addressed the rumors on Monday in an interview with a Green Bay radio station.
“There’s no way in heck Aaron is not going to be on the Packers,” Murphy said. “He’s going to be the MVP of the league, might have had his best year ever, he’s our unquestioned leader, and we’re not idiots.”
Another important factor is the cap hit the Packers would take if they traded Rodgers right now. If the Pack trades their star quarterback before June 1, they would be hit with $31.5 million in dead cap money. If they wait until after June 1, they would still be hit with $14.352 million in dead cap money, too much for a team that is flush against the cap ceiling and facing the very real possibility the cap will go down in 2021.
Head coach Matt LaFleur summed it up best for the Packers organization and Packers fans. When asked if he expects Rodgers to return in 2021, LaFleur said, “I sure as hell hope so,” LaFleur replied. “The guy’s the MVP of this league. He is the heart and soul of our football team, so hell yeah, he’d better be back here.”
Let there be no doubt, Rodgers is disappointed, exhausted and frustrated by coming so close to returning to the Super Bowl but not quite getting to the promised land. But don’t worry, Packers fans, in 2021, Aaron Rodgers will be back in Green Bay.
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