Will Aaron Rodgers End Up Staying With the Packers?
The quarterback's "beautiful mystery" rages on
On a Friday night this past July, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams posted the same Instagram story. It was a photo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen fist-bumping, a still from the famous 1997-1998 season that was profiled last year in ESPN’s documentary miniseries The Last Dance.
Rodgers and Adams, talented as they are — the duo just set the Green Bay Packers record for touchdown connections between a quarterback and wide receiver, at 67 — are imperfect avatars for Jordan and Pippen. Rodgers has won just one ring, to the Bulls stars’ six apiece, and in Adams’ eight seasons with the franchise, the Packers have lost the NFC Championship four times.
But coming into this season, those just-misses were pitched as assets. As Adams said last summer: “This is probably the hungriest team that I’ve ever been around, honestly, just because we have been so close a number of times now. I feel like everybody in the back of their mind they know how reachable it is and realistic we are to getting to that final step.”
Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams have the same Instagram story up right now. pic.twitter.com/hDLE02V7fk— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) July 24, 2021
That sense of urgency mixed with Rodgers and Adams’ uncertain futures with the football team. In order to convince Rodgers to come back — he felt estranged from the top brass after last season, especially regarding their decision to spend a first-round draft pick on quarterback prospect Jordan Love — Packers executives restructured his contract, voiding the final year of the deal. Adams was already headed into the final year of his contract. This led to a sort of unspoken understanding among the team and league: this was the Packers’ last, best chance to bring home a trophy with their current core.
Now, though, that isn’t so clear. During a long presser yesterday, Rodgers seemed to imply that the Packers are still in play to retain his services for next year and beyond. “This has been one of my favorite years of football … I’m just enjoying this season for this season, and I think playing next year will definitely be in the thought process,” Rodgers said. “I have a lot of love for Matt and enjoy playing for him. I love my teammates. The coaching staff has been fantastic, and they make it fun every single day. And the guys, obviously, is what you play for.”
Rodgers has a lot to be happy about right now. The Packers are 12-3 and currently the top seed in the NFC. In recent weeks, his MVP odds have surged past the likes of Tom Brady and Jonathan Taylor. At 38 years old, he’s the outright favorite to win the award. It would be the fourth in his career and his second in a row.
Why even consider leaving the Packers, then, when everything’s going so right? Especially when Rodgers appears to have patched things up with the front office — he’s spoken glowingly about moves Brian Gutekunst has executed this year to shore up positions throughout the team. “The things that I’ve said about the team this year, about Brian’s and I’s relationship, has been heartfelt and genuine, and I do appreciate a lot of the things that I’ve seen from the team that are directly related to conversations we had in the offseason, and that was meaningful to me.”
Rodgers promises a “quick decision” after the season, though it’s clear at this point that he intimately understands his effect on the media, and perhaps even enjoys playing with his food a bit. He called his future a “beautiful mystery” earlier in the year. In all likelihood, that mystery is entirely dependent on how the Packers finish out this season — which is why the decision will ultimately be an easy one. Pre-playoffs, of course, all options (Packers, retirement, another team) are on the table.
But if Rodgers wins an NFL MVP, a Super Bowl and a Super Bowl MVP, don’t be surprised if he says goodbye. He’ll disappear to a cabin with Shailene Woodley and that’ll be that. If he doesn’t, come March, we’ll really know how much goodwill there is between the superstar and the front office. He’ll either sign up for another last dance (with Adams in tow) or head somewhere sunny and gear up for a Brady-esque refresh.
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