Packers expecting a decision from Aaron Rodgers before start of free agency

Kassidy Hill
Packers News
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INDIANAPOLIS - It didn’t take long for the elephant in the NFL combine media room to be addressed Tuesday.

Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst took to the podium in early afternoon and quickly was asked if quarterback Aaron Rodgers was close to making a decision about his future.  

“There’s no new updates,” Gutekunst said. “He's got a very tough process that he goes through to get himself ready to play every season. It's a big commitment. And he's done that for a long time and it certainly shows with the results. I think he feels he needs to do that, to play the way at the level he plays at. And so I know that that weighs on him, but I think he's going through that now.”  

For a club dealing with the second-worst salary-cap situation in the NFL, Rodgers' decision (and a potential new contract worth anywhere from $40 million to $50 million per season) will cause ripples through the Packers' organization for years. While the Packers wait on a decision from Rodgers, they are preparing financial scenarios.  

“It’s part of the process. (Director of Football Operations) Russ (Ball), obviously, does a good job, and he's kind of prepared for kind of any which way we might go.”  

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a pass in the third quarter against the Vikings on Jan. 2 at Lambeau Field.

The club has reworked the contracts of some players, ones that Gutekunst was hesitant to call “easy” but described as such nonetheless. Defensive lineman Kenny Clark, offensive lineman David Bakhtiari and running back Aaron Jones have had their contracts restructured, giving the Packers an additional $23 million in cap space. The club is still $30 million over and must be under the $208.2 million limit by March 16. 

“We have a few moves to make. It’s not drastic or anything. We’ve done the stuff that I don’t want to say was easy but the stuff we kind of knew we were going to go about right away,” Gutekunst said. “Then I think as we move forward, I talked to you guys a little bit last week, we’d like to do things kind of as we go, more so. These ones were kind of like the ones we knew were easy to do, so we got them out of the way, and now as we go and things kind of fall, we’ll make those moves." 

Which way Rodgers goes will affect both how other contracts are reworked and the potential re-signing of free agents. Free agency begins March 16, and Gutekunst “would hope” a decision from Rodgers will come before then.  

“There's a lot of decisions that have to be made before that," he said. "So that would be helpful. But I would think we know something before that. 

“I think it’s obvious we’re planning for a lot of different scenarios. Certainly, once we get the situation with Aaron figured out, then everything can follow. That’s where we’re at.”  

One of those waiting to learn about his future is wide receiver Davante Adams. While Gutekunst maintains the Packers would like to know Rodgers' decision “as soon as we can” to help with “planning and moving forward” where Adams' looming free agency is concerned, they are still independent of each other.  

“Those two situations are completely different,” Gutekunst said. “They’re two different players and two different situations, both great in their own right. We were lucky to have them and hopefully able to have them both moving forward. But they’re separate. 

  “There’s been constant communication and had a good talk with ‘Tae after the season and then obviously we’ve been in touch with his representatives throughout.” 

Packers' process leans on combine  

While some teams, like the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, have a minimal presence at the 2022 NFL combine, the Packers will have coach Matt LaFleur and staff on hand for the week. Even with the advent of Zoom meetings and schools' pro days, the ability to have coaches meet face-to-face with prospects is too helpful to pass up for the Packers.  

“There’s different things that they do here that are very important to our process,” Gutekunst said. “I think it’s very important to them as they, what we ask them to do from an evaluation perspective. So I just think the opportunity for those guys to sit down with players, even though sometimes it’s a short amount of time, but I think it’s really important for them to get a feel for how they might fit in our locker room, how they learn and that’s very valuable when we’re making our decisions.” 

What Hackett learned from Rodgers

Coach Nathaniel Hackett and the Denver Broncos expect to be active in the quarterback market. The former Packers offensive coordinator is heading into his first NFL combine as a head coach, with an eye on a quarterback class that is notoriously weak.  

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The club still has Drew Lock under contract, but the Broncos are looking for their next franchise quarterback. Rodgers has floated the idea of a possible trade request this offseason, and the prospect of reuniting with his former coordinator makes Denver a popular speculative landing spot. While the Packers are waiting to hear Rodgers' decision, Hackett is careful to avoid speculation in public.  

Asked if he was pushing the Broncos to pursue a trade with Rodgers, the quarterback's former coordinator let out a big laugh.  

“I’m just happy to be a Denver Bronco right now and we’ll evaluate everything as we go,” Hackett said.  

Even if Rodgers to Denver has become less of a possibility, three years with one of the game's best has influenced how Hackett will be evaluating quarterbacks this offseason. There are things he looks for in prospects, Hackett told reporters Tuesday, things he said were shaped by the Packers quarterback.  

“They have to be tough, mental and physical. The stresses they go through just being able to stand in front of so many different people. And then you look just at the physical aspect, to be able to take hits. 'Cause even if it’s perfect, you’re gonna be hit and it’s a long season,” Hackett said.  

“Then the intelligence. The ability to be able to call a play. We have long play calls. And then be able to understand the different defenses, (what) you’re gonna do to get yourself in a perfect play. Then accuracy. Those are kind of the three top ones. And if you’re lucky, you get an athletic guy too.”  

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