QB Aaron Rodgers shies away from conjecture about Packers tenure

NFL


GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers isn’t into conjecture — whether it’s about his future with the Green Bay Packers, the possibility of getting through a season without a positive COVID-19 test or whether quarterbacks should operate in their own mini-bubble.

No, Rodgers doesn’t know how his time with the Packers will end — an ever-present topic since the team traded up to take quarterback Jordan Love at No. 26 in April’s NFL draft — and he made it sound like he’d prefer not to answer that question anymore.

Rodgers’ answer on a Zoom call Monday resembled what it was the first time he spoke publicly after the draft and what it was last week during an interview with Kyle Brandt on the Ringer Podcast Network that reintroduced the topic into the NFL vernacular.

“There’s been a lot of hypothetical questions on here; I’m not always a huge fan of guessing those things,” Rodgers said Monday during a 26-minute virtual session with reporters on the first day of player availability during training camp. “But obviously, I’ve said that before: I think if I retire on the team’s timeline, then all is well. If they’re looking to move on before I’m done playing, there becomes an impasse at that point. I can control my play and my performance and my approach and my leadership, but at some point, there’s other factors involved. It’s what I said to you guys Day 1 when we talked about this, and that’s what I said to Kyle. That’s the facts to me at this point.”

Just a day earlier, Packers coach Matt LaFleur said he envisions Rodgers as the Packers’ quarterback for “a really long time” but acknowledged that no one knows how long that would be.

“Nothing’s guaranteed in this league,” LaFleur said Sunday. “But I feel so lucky to be able to work with him on a daily basis. I don’t see that changing for a really long time.”

When asked what his definition of “a really long time” is, Rodgers, in part, chose to focus mostly on the present.

“I savor every moment, every season,” Rodgers said. “I don’t take any of it for granted. I don’t know what the future holds. I know I can control this year and my play and my approach and my attitude. And I’m enjoying being back with the guys. It’s fun to see them. Different, obviously, circumstances. There’s a lot of things that are strange compared to the last 15 years I’ve been here, but I’m really enjoying being back here with the guys and being back in meetings and workouts and just seeing the energy and the smiles and the laughs. That really makes it fun.”

The Packers signed Rodgers, 36, to a contract extension worth $134 million in August 2018 that runs through the 2023 season. Love’s rookie contract, without the fifth-year option, runs concurrent to Rodgers’ deal.

The Packers could begin to save salary-cap space on Rodgers’ deal if they moved on from him after this season, but it would be a small gain; they would save only $4.76 million on the cap and have $31.556 million in dead money. After the 2021 season, the Packers would save $22.648 million in salary-cap space by making a move but would have to count $17.204 million in dead money.

As for this season, Rodgers said he never considered opting out, but he doesn’t hold anything against players who have. So far, only one Packers player, receiver Devin Funchess, has taken that option.

“I was always gonna play,” Rodgers said. “I respect any person who decides to opt out. There’s a lot of different circumstances around, I’m sure, each individual case. … I respect all those guys who decided to make that decision, even Devin. We had a conversation before training camp started and he talked to me before it had kind of gone public. I just told him I respect his decision. I have a lot of appreciation for how difficult that must be to weigh the love of playing with football with the safety of your family. So I have an appreciation for that and absolutely zero judgment.”

The Packers so far have five players on the COVID-19 reserve list: kicker Mason Crosby, long-snapper Hunter Bradley, tight end Jace Sternberger, defensive lineman Treyvon Hester and linebacker Greg Roberts. Those players have either tested positive for the virus or had come into close contact with someone who has. They must have a series of negative tests before they can return to the facility.

Rodgers would not say what the likelihood is of a player getting through the season without a positive test, but he said he felt safe at Lambeau Field.

“I think the first part is a hypothetical one; I’m just not going to touch that one,” he said. “I think the protocols that we have in place here are such that I think it gives us a really good chance. We’ve been obviously testing every day, and there’s tracking devices and just the rules of the facility are obviously a lot different this year than years past and I think give us the best chance to get into the season and finish the season.”

On Sunday, LaFleur said he has considered keeping his quarterbacks as separate as possible from the rest of the team and even employing a quarantined backup who would have limited or no contact with the rest of the quarterbacks in case an outbreak hit that position.

“That’s not my decision; that’s Matt’s decision,” Rodgers said. “Obviously, this year presents different types of challenges than years past and it’s crazy to think of — that those are the types of conversations that we have to have in order to play — but that’s the reality we live in.”



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