Aaron Rodgers reflects on what could factor into his decision to continue to play in Green Bay beyond this year
GREEN BAY – Add the development of Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson to the long list of things that could weigh in to the decision on how long quarterback Aaron Rodgers plays for the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers know they’re in a finite window with Rodgers. The back-to-back MVP has pontificated on retirement the past few months. He also has made it clear, as Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady continues to play at 45 years old, that he has no intentions of playing that long.
Rodgers is 38 and, at some point in the near future, he will make the decision he faced this offseason: retire or play-on, either for the Packers or another team.
It means the Packers have to plan for the future while creating a roster that can also win now. That roster includes Doubs and Watson, who have become vital pieces of the current offense as well as being players the Packers hope will develop down the road.
As such, the litany of things Rodgers has mentioned as factoring in to his decision on how long to play now includes two rookie receivers, as well as the team around them.
“My decision, when it comes down to it, will be obviously the physical part, the mental part, seeing where the team is at,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “Look at the defense, a lot of guys are signed for four years now. That seems to be intact for a while. They’ve got a good corps on the offensive line, got some young guys. Obviously, two great backs (Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon) that are still under contract.
“There's some moving pieces, but you know that'll factor in for sure. But seeing the development of those guys (Watson and Doubs), you know, can't help but be a part of the decision.”
In the most recent draft, the club put an emphasis on the defensive side of the ball, creating a unit that appears to have more depth than any in recent years. On offense, the receivers saw an influx of young talent.
Doubs, for his part, leads Packers receivers in targets (24), receptions (19) and yards (184), as well as tied for the lead in touchdowns (two). The presumed top receiver, Allen Lazard, missed the first game against Minnesota so that skews those numbers a bit, but it’s impossible to miss how much Rodgers has come to rely on Doubs and Watson, who missed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game.
Watson, who is coveted for his speed, has six receptions on 10 targets for 51 yards and a touchdown. He’s also carried the ball twice for 22 yards and a rushing touchdown.
Rodgers said that long after he’s gone, Doubs and Watson could still be in Green Bay providing the offensive firepower to which the Packers have become accustomed.
“I think there's going to be a lot of benefits to be reaped from those guys,” Rodgers said Wednesday. "So I'm sure long after I'm gone, those guys get an opportunity to be here and play, and play in the second contracts.
“It's about development really, for them. It's about their mental approach … Year one to two can be a big jump. Two to three can be an even bigger jump. So just understanding what it means to be a pro and figuring that out.”
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The Packers are banking on at least one more Super Bowl run with Rodgers at the helm, and they're banking on that happening in the next two to three years. As to how long the club can keep Rodgers in the game will remain to be seen and could depend on how the team develops around him. In the meantime, the 18-year veteran will look to build a foundation that can outlast him.
Said Rodgers, “I think every young player should lean on an older guy and get some advice. I think us older guys, we love to share the mistakes that we made with the young guys so they don't repeat those things and things that worked for us as a young player, things that didn't work, things you'd like to see them do. I think it's really important to pass on that knowledge.”