“I really don’t know,” Rodgers said during a lengthy and candid news conference. “I think things, in that direction, haven’t really changed at all. I think I’m just going to focus on this year. There’s a lot of moving pieces besides myself. … I’m just going to enjoy this year and then revisit that conversation at the end of the season.”
Eventually, Rodgers and the team must attempt to move past the tumult of the offseason and prepare for their latest attempt to make a Super Bowl return. But first, that tumult was reviewed Wednesday in painstaking detail — including Rodgers’ desire to be more involved in major organizational decisions.
“I can be used as a pseudo-consultant because I know this place,” Rodgers said. “I know this building. I know the people that work here. I know what helps it go. When you’re a quarterback, you hear a lot of [stuff]. … It’s the people that get it done, and I just want to be a part of people decisions.”
The NFL’s reigning MVP reported on time to the Packers’ camp Tuesday amid negotiations with the organization on a revised contract that could lead to Rodgers’s departure from Green Bay after one or two more seasons. General Manager Brian Gutekunst said earlier Wednesday that the reworked deal was not completed, adding: “We’re working through some of those things.”
Said Rodgers: “I’m not a victim here at all. I just want to reiterate that. I’ve been paid a ton of money by this organization. … I don’t feel like anything’s been done to me. … It’s an incredible opportunity to play this game. It’s a tough business, too, though. And this is part of it.”
Rodgers said the issues “started with a conversation in February as the season ended.” He expressed his desire to the team, he said, to be more involved in decisions affecting his ability to do his job. Rodgers reeled off a list of players during Wednesday’s news conference — including Charles Woodson, Jordy Nelson, Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb — that he felt were not treated properly by the organization as they exited. Rodgers said he expressed to the team that he wanted to be involved in the Packers’ free agency deliberations.
“I think we can all understand Green Bay isn’t a huge vacation destination,” Rodgers said. “People come here to play with me, to play with our team and knowing that they can win a championship here. And the fact I haven’t been used in those discussions was one I wanted to change moving forward.”
Rodgers praised Coach Matt LaFleur but mentioned his lack of involvement in the coach’s 2019 hiring and said he has felt entitled to “a little bit more input.” This offseason’s discussions with the team, Rodgers said, progressed to conversations in which Rodgers sought for the franchise to commit to him as its quarterback beyond the 2021 season. That “really wasn’t given at any time,” Rodgers said.
Following the NFL draft, Rodgers said, “I think what basically happened was then they said, ‘We’ll give you some money now. Let’s see if we can throw some money at you.’ I said from the start it wasn’t about the money.”
Rodgers, 37, said retirement was “definitely something I thought about” but he ultimately concluded that he wanted to keep playing.
“The fire still burns and I wanted to be on a football team,” Rodgers said. “We got some things figured out in the last few days and I’m here.”
LaFleur acknowledged there had been uncertainty and angst among the organization’s decision-makers throughout the offseason about the stalemate with Rodgers.
“You’re always prepared for the possibilities,” LaFleur said during a news conference earlier Wednesday. “And you’re always planning and thinking about either scenario because we were, quite frankly, very unsure.”
LaFleur joked that “there was no stress. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He also said, “I just drank a lot of wine at night. It put me to sleep.” Rodgers pledged to be all-in on the Packers’ 2021 season, and LaFleur said he’s confident of that.
“I have no doubts,” LaFleur said. “I can say he is the most competitive person I’ve ever been around.”
Packers coaches have updated Rodgers on offensive wrinkles that were added while he skipped voluntary offseason workouts and a mandatory minicamp. The team also arranged a trade with the Houston Texans to bring Cobb back to Green Bay, which the wide receiver announced Wednesday on social media.
Earlier Wednesday, Gutekunst acknowledged “communication lapses,” but said: “There’s a perception out there somehow we don’t treat our players well. That couldn’t be further from the truth.”
The GM called his relationship with Rodgers “very professional,” something echoed by Rodgers. Gutekunst said that Rodgers has “earned that seat at the table to have a voice” in major decisions.
Gutekunst declined to confirm that the revised contract will make Rodgers a free agent following the 2022 season — with an agreement by the Packers not to use the franchise player tag on him — or that the team will commit to reviewing the situation following the ’21 season. But he said that Rodgers is entitled to annual discussions with the franchise about his future with the team.
“I think he deserves at least the conversation every year about where we’re headed, where he’s headed and to get together and we’ll make a decision,” Gutekunst said.
Rodgers said he does not believe he will be given the right to determine where he can play in the 2022 season. He was asked if he wants to be in Green Bay now.
“I do,” Rodgers said. “I love my teammates. I love the city. I love my coaches. ... There’s a lot of fun things about being back, and I understand the opportunity that’s here.”