After months, more like years, of speculation that the Packers and longtime quarterback Aaron Rodgers were headed for a divorce, Green Bay finally pulled off the Band-Aid following a disappointing 8-9 season and dealt the 39-year-old to the New York Jets.
Since then, both sides have taken subtle shots at one another, but the Packers seem fairly happy to have moved on from Rodgers. Coach Matt LaFleur and general manager Brian Gutekunst have both expressed confidence in Jordan Love, who will be stepping in as the starter in Green Bay after largely riding the bench for the Packers after being drafted in 2020. Love started one game for the Packers when unvaccinated Rodgers was lost to COVID-19 and it didn’t go well (19-of-34 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a loss), but it’s reasonable to expect more from the Utah State product as he continues to get reps under center.
“He believes in himself, he cares about everybody around him and we’ve seen him just come in consistently and just work, work, work,” said Green Bay running back Aaron Jones said, via Packers.com. “He did it the right way, he waited his time and you never heard one peep or complaint out of him. He has everyone’s full respect and we’re all going to go lay it out on the line for him.”
If Love falters, rookie QB Sean Clifford is waiting in the wings and for some reason the ex-Penn State quarterback has the blessing of Rodgers.
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Clifford who already has Rodgers’s locker, was gifted a framed, signed jersey from the longtime Packer in addition to a pair of photos of the one-time Super Bowl winner. Rodgers also included a message of support for Clifford, a fifth-round draft pick. “Sean – Welcome to GB! Enjoy that great city and my locker,” Rodgers wrote on the jersey.
It’s a nice gesture from Rodgers, but it also makes it seem as if he still hasn’t really gotten over his departure from Green Bay and fully embraced being the savior of a New York Jets franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game in more than a decade.
If the Jets wind up on the upcoming season of Hard Knocks on HBO — and we should all be hoping that they do — expect that to be one of the major storylines along with the emergence of second-year cornerback Sauce Gardner as an NFL star.