The state of the Green Bay Packers as we approach Training Camp is cryptic and that’s a monumental understatement. The franchise has maintained the focus of we’re bigger than the individual since it’s inception. That philosophy was able to navigate professional football for over 100 years until Aaron Rodgers decided to turn the tables. Brett Favre tried his best to hold the cards in the latter years of his career, but the Packers selection of Rodgers provided them with the last laugh. The current stalemate is completely different than the Favre saga of the early 2000’s. This time around, the MVP and Super Bowl Champion Quarterback wasn’t flipping back and forth about retirement, he was asking, even begging the front office to have a say.
To understand the situation, we need to look back a couple years. This has nothing to do with Aaron Rodgers contract and being the highest paid player. This has everything to do with the GM Brian Gutenkurst and Front Office taking him for granted. Rodgers wanted to keep Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, but the front office elected to let them walk as opposed to offering a 3rd contract. Those moves are understandable, but the connection they had cannot be measured, just ask the Bears, Vikings and Lions. The first sign of trouble was not focused on their departure, but the roster spot of Wisconsin native Jake Kumerow. The DIII WR undrafted free agent had shown flashes on the practice squad and in Training Camp. This even resulted in Rodgers publicly asking for Kumerow to make the final roster. When he didn’t it caused some ire, even though he returned to the practice squad in 2019.
Moving forward to 2020, a year in which the world was brought to its knees, the Packers Front Office decided to double down on that pain and chaos. Draft Night 2020, live from Roger Goodell’s basement, the Packers Front Office selected QB Jordan Love from Utah State. Not a wide receiver, linebacker, defensive back or lineman, but Rodgers projected replacement. The decision can be defended by the fact that Love was the best player on the board. You can even say that teams always need depth at quarterback, but not helping a team at the cusp of a Super Bowl is hard to digest. The true bombshell is that Rodgers was not told or consulted on the move and was caught off guard like the rest of the world. This slight sent Rodgers toward the road he is currently on.
The 2020 season was Rodgers personal scorched earth policy. He put up historic numbers on the way to his 3rd MVP award. He even guided his teammates to the best record in the NFC and all signs pointed to a 2nd Super Bowl. The only thing standing in his way was Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The irony is poetic, because Brady had the same roster issues with the Patriots, who also thought they were bigger than the future Hall of Fame Quarterback. The Buccaneers defeated the Packers in Lambeau Field, resulting in Rodgers having a record of 4 losses in 5 NFC Championship Game starts.
This defeat, along with the previous drama caused Rodgers to step back and put his cards on the table. He has taken the 2021 offseason to evaluate his personal life and mental joy. These elements, like every other human, all point to being valued and appreciated. The Packers inability to involve Rodgers in the philosophy and decisions of the franchise resulted in him publicly putting them on notice without actually saying it.
The Packers were able to resign the best offensive tackle ( Bakhtiari), best defensive tackle (Clark), and running back ( Jones) prior to them hitting the open market. All three are elite players and you have to imagine that they had some insight into Rodgers thoughts before they signed. These moves give Cheesehead Nation a glimpse of hope, but the gap might be too large. In all three cases, the sides were far apart on an extension and then found a way to come to terms. This scenario brings us to Rodgers favorite target, the best wide receiver in the world, Davante Adams.
This week, the story broke that the Packers and Adam’s are far apart on an extension. This has sent shockwaves through social media, resulting in other fan bases dreaming of Rodgers in Bronco orange and Adams in Raiders silver. As we saw before, this is a normal negotiation, but possibly, the unacceptable offer could be viewed as an insult to Rodgers and Adams. Another nuclear bomb for the social media world was that Rodgers turned down a 2 year extension that would have made him the highest paid QB in the league.
On the eve of Training Camp 2021, my thoughts on the situation are pretty clear. Rodgers will play for the Packers in 2021. He will leave it all on the field for his teammates, coaches and the fans, all while giving the proverbial finger to the front office. Davante Adams will continue to show the world that he is the best. The Packers will have an exciting season, hopefully ending in a Lombardi Trophy. As soon as the season ends, Rodgers will officially demand the trade and Adams will look to sign elsewhere. There is a very slim chance that a reconciliation can occur, but Rodgers is extremely proud and competitive. He wants that 2nd Super Bowl and then an exit to show them what they are losing.
As a lifelong, diehard Packers fan, this has been coming and all I can hope for is for cooler heads to prevail. The Packers won the lottery by hitting Favre and Rodgers back to back. The. QB play in Green Bay dating back to a September afternoon in 1992 has been elite and the envy of the majority of the league. I doubt this era of Packers success pushes past February 2022 at this rate. We’re in an era where you need an elite QB and finding one is very hard. Just as Rodgers and Adams social media stories project, this is The Last Dance and all we can hope for is a 5th Lombardi Trophy to cap it off.
IMAGE CREDIT: “Green Bay Packers Fans” by Mike Morbeck is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0