GREEN BAY, Wis. — Not only might Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams be a package deal, but the timing on whether both will return to the Green Bay Packers could happen almost simultaneously.
While Rodgers originally said he would likely have a decision by the time free agency begins, which is March 16, he offered the possibility that it could be even sooner.
If the Packers are going to use the franchise tag on Adams, the All-Pro receiver, they can do so as early as Feb. 22 but no later than March 8. Rodgers has already said he does not want to be part of a rebuild and likely considers anything without Adams to be just that. And likewise for Adams; he would almost certainly prefer to be able to explore his options if Rodgers doesn’t return to the Packers.
“I’d like to be respectful of the organization,” Rodgers said Tuesday on “The Pat McAfee Show.” “One decision that will be upcoming will be obviously Davante and his future with the team. There still is this thing called a franchise tag, which I don’t think ’17’ wants the franchise.
“I think that should be enough time to make a decision by then. I don’t want to put myself on a specific date, but I do want to be sensitive to Davante and many other guys who have decisions to make on their own futures. To drag it out past free agency would be disrespectful to the organization and to those guys, and that 100 percent will not happen.”
There are also the salary-cap implications to consider. The Packers sit $44.8 million over their projected salary cap for the 2022 season, and that’s without Adams. The franchise tag for a receiver will be close to $20 million. Teams have to be under their cap with their top 51 players by 4 p.m. ET on March 16.
Rodgers gave few, if any, hints about which way he is leaning for the 2022 season. He said on Tuesday’s show that just about everything is on the table — a return to Green Bay, a trade request and retirement. He knows free agency isn’t an option because he still has another year left on his contract, and he said he would not sit out a season and then come back.
“I don’t have any desire to do that; that makes no sense,” Rodgers said.
Coach Matt LaFleur said Monday that he met with Rodgers as part of the exit-interview process that happens after the season. It was not known whether Rodgers met with general manager Brian Gutekunst or team president Mark Murphy, but Rodgers was still in Green Bay as of Tuesday.
“I feel like I’m at the place relationally with the Packers — in a really good place, especially with Brian and the way our friendship and trust has grown — where it would be a simple conversation and whatever comes out of the conversation is moving forward,” Rodgers said. “There’s not going to be a weird standoff, war of silence or anything. Brian and I have had good conversations throughout the year, and when it comes time to make a decision, we’ll have a conversation and that’ll be that. It won’t be a long, drawn-out process. “
Rodgers skipped the entire last offseason program and suggested that if he were to return for another season, he would prefer to skip most of it again.
Upon his return to the Packers last July, he admitted that not participating in the offseason program last year offered a hint at what retirement might feel like, although he continued his regular workouts and training sessions as if he were going to play.
“I don’t have a fear of retirement,” Rodgers said Tuesday. “I felt that during the offseason, so there’s not any fear around it. The uncertainty is not unsettling at all. It’s almost exciting thinking about what life is going to look like moving forward.”
In addition to his meetings with LaFleur and Gutekunst, he said he will also consult with “friends and loved ones and former teammates who have moved on and current teammates who are still playing.”
And in the end, it will come down to this:
“I think it’ll be a lot of intuition and a lot of feel,” Rodgers said. “You have to imagine yourself in those situations because I don’t want to be sitting there during the season going, ‘Man, I probably should’ve hung it up.’ Or, sitting there and not with the organization — an organization — and going, ‘God, I should be playing right now.’
“I think it’s just a trust that I’ll know exactly what to do. Once you make a decision, that’s the decision and you move forward. Until you get to that certainty, you don’t make a decision. There also is a time frame for this because I understand that my decision does impact a number of other people’s decisions. I want to be very sensitive to that, so I’ll definitely make a decision sooner rather than later.”