Packers QB Aaron Rodgers cites Davante Adams tag deadline, vows he won't drag out decision regarding his future
GREEN BAY - As he enters a premature offseason, Aaron Rodgers presented his future as a blank canvas Tuesday. The Green Bay Packers quarterback said he merely needs time to figure out how he’ll paint that picture.
Rodgers spoke for almost a full hour on his regular home-field advantage of "The Pat McAfee Show," days after the Packers' season ended with a playoff loss on their home field against the San Francisco 49ers. His parting words before the offseason ramps up touched on breakdowns in Saturday’s game, revisiting the reaction to his status as an unvaccinated player, and most prominently his future with the Packers.
The presumptive MVP said he’s leaving almost all options on the table for 2022. Only time, Rodgers said, will determine whether he wants to retire, return to the Packers for another season or play for another team. Rodgers said he wants to remove himself from the “numbness and sadness” of Saturday night’s upset loss to the 49ers at Lambeau Field, a defeat that ended what many including himself expected to be a Super Bowl run.
Davante Adams figures into decision
Rodgers guaranteed, not for the first time, his decision will be swift. While free agency is the natural line of demarcation for a verdict on Rodgers’ future to be made, the quarterback said he hopes clarity will come even sooner, pointing to the Packers’ deadline of potentially using the franchise tag on receiver Davante Adams.
“I would like to be respectful of the organization,” Rodgers said. “I think the most – one decision that will be upcoming, will be obviously Davante and his future with the team. There still is this thing called the franchise tag, which I don’t think '17' wants ... No player ever wants the franchise tag, but that decision on that, I believe, is in February. In late February. So I think that should be enough time to make a decision by then.
“I don’t want to put myself on a specific date, but I do want to be sensitive to Davante and many other guys who have decisions to make on their own futures. To drag it out past free agency would be disrespectful to the organization and those guys, and that 100 percent will not happen.”
The window for using franchise tags opens Feb. 22 and runs through March 8, meaning Rodgers’ decision would come no later than that.
In the meantime, Rodgers said he plans to step back from the game and the pain of last week’s loss so he can make a decision that isn’t based on emotion. Rodgers knows what criteria he would like to use in determining his future.
“I think some of the factors,” Rodgers said, “are the direction of how the team and the organization and how I feel like I fit into the future mentally. Do I still have the passion, the competitiveness and the desire to keep playing, and I think it’s a feeling you just kind of know once you feel the offseason has started. When you’re a hypercompetitive individual, you also dream or think about what the fairy tale ending is, and it doesn’t mean Super Bowl necessarily – but that’s a pretty damn good fairy tale. Not too many people have been able to walk off like that.
“It comes down to more just how you’re feeling. Can you still play? Do you still have the same commitment and enjoyment with the game, and can you sign up for the grind again? I think the only way of knowing that is get away from it a little bit, let your mind clear, and think about it. And think about the enormity of the task, and what would bring you the most enjoyment. What’s the best for the quality of life at that point.”
Rodgers said it would be easier to have clarity if the Packers had reached the Super Bowl this season. He craves his fairy-tale ending, the sunset Peyton Manning and John Elway once received, winning a title in their final game. He also knows very few quarterbacks ever get that chance.
Coach Matt LaFleur said Monday he and key members of the Packers' front office, including president/CEO Mark Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst, all agree they want Rodgers to return. Gutekunst is not expected to address reporters for a few weeks, likely after his return from next week’s Senior Bowl.
“I just want to do everything in our power to try to get him back here,” LaFleur said, “and making sure that he’s comfortable with the direction of our football team and confident that we can continue to have success here and try to find a way for us to get over that hump so we can reach it further and further and further.”
Unlike a year ago, any negative feelings Rodgers has toward the Packers – and especially Gutekunst – won’t factor into his decision. Rodgers said his relationship with Gutekunst has grown since he returned at the start of training camp. Gutekunst made key concessions for his quarterback, including involving Rodgers in personnel conversations, and even adhering to a demand to trade for receiver Randall Cobb.
Rodgers has said the return of Cobb, a close friend, made last season much more enjoyable for him. Now the question is whether he’s ready to commit to another year. One thing Rodgers said he “100 percent would not do” is retire only to return to the NFL after a year.
Whatever he decides, Rodgers said it will be final.
“I don’t have any desire to do that,” Rodgers said. “That makes no sense. I feel like I’m at a place relationally with the Packers, at a really good place, especially with Brian, the way our friendship and trust has grown, where it would be a simple conversation and whatever comes out of that situation is moving forward. There’s not going to be any weird, standoff war of silence. Brian and I have had good conversations throughout the year.
“When it comes time to make a decision, we’ll have a conversation, and that’ll be that. It won’t be a long, drawn-out process. I think that’s what’s best for me, for him, for the organization, and for all the other decisions that need to be made.”