Aaron Rodgers offers lengthy explanation for standoff with Packers
After months of silence and cryptic messages, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers spoke directly to the media Wednesday for the first time since he demanded a trade. While Rodgers and the Packers have reached a truce, the quarterback had a lot to say about what went into his unhappiness.
Rodgers gave a remarkably candid and honest statement about his issues with the Packers, holding very little back when explaining the thinking that went into his feud with the Packers. The first thing he cited was the Packers’ treatment of numerous veterans the team let go. Rodgers said he had been left unhappy with how the Packers treated several “high-character veterans” on the way out. He even named names, citing the exits of Charles Woodson, Jordy Nelson, Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, James Jones, John Kuhn, TJ Lang, Bryan Bulaga, Casey Hayward, and Micah Hyde.
Aaron Rodgers says he was angry some “high character”outgoing veterans were disrespected by low ball offers or no offers at all pic.twitter.com/Cf8t0rF7g9
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) July 28, 2021
Rodgers also said he was frustrated that the Packers did not use him more to recruit free agents. He cited the fact that Green Bay is not a huge destination city, and that many players who come do so to play with Rodgers and contend for a championship.
Rodgers says another frustration was he wasn't used in free-agent recruiting. Feels it's needed in Green Bay, which isn't a "vacation destination." #Packers "tried to throw some money at me." Says it was about more than that, though he didn't want to be a "lame duck" QB.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 28, 2021
The biggest issue Rodgers cited was the lack of consultation in major decisions, from players to free agents to roster moves. He said he felt he had earned the right to be viewed as more than just another player, and felt he deserved a say in key organizational decisions. He cited the fact that he was not consulted on the hiring of Matt LaFleur as head coach, though he made sure to say that he was happy that LaFleur was the team’s coach.
Aaron Rodgers: “I talked to Matt after he was hired as coach. I wasn’t part of that (hiring) conversation. Let’s make that clear. I do love Matt, and I’m glad he’s here. But the organization looks at me like I’m just a player. In my opinion… it should tie myself to more input."
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) July 28, 2021
Rodgers also cited the team’s decision to cut wide receiver Jake Kumerow prior to the start of 2020, which had been previously reported as a key issue for the quarterback. Rodgers said Kumerow had been the second-best wide receiver in the team’s camp, and that he would have liked to have been consulted before the receiver’s release so he could try to change the front office’s mind.
Aaron Rodgers cites the decision to cut Jake Kumerow last year as an example of where he'd like to have been consulted: "Maybe run it by me and I can change your mind."
Rodgers says Kumerow was the second best receiver in training camp last year.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) July 28, 2021
Rodgers did confirm that he considered retirement, but ultimately realized he wanted to play and felt he still could. He said his relationship with GM Brian Gutekunst was “professional,” but made clear that his issues with the Packers are not necessarily in the past. He refused to say whether he would remain with the organization beyond 2021, and denied reports that the team had agreed to let him choose his next destination if he did leave.
Will Rodgers be a Packer next year?
"I really don't know. Things in that direction haven't changed at all. … Expiring contracts for a lot of guys. … There's going to be tough decisions at the end of the year."
— Nick Shook (@TheNickShook) July 28, 2021
Aaron Rodgers says it's not his understanding that he can choose where he wants to play in 2022.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 28, 2021
Rodgers’ comments confirmed much of the reporting over the summer about his unhappiness with the Packers. Even some of his former teammates correctly identified the issues. Rodgers did not like many of the decisions the team has made on and off the field. He felt that the organization treated him as just another player when his influence should have been greater. He wanted more say in some of those key decisions. He feels he knows the Green Bay organization well enough to offer intelligent input on what the organization is doing. He had not received any of that, had had enough, and wanted to push for changes. Whether he got what he wanted remains to be seen.
One thing is for sure: the tension between Rodgers and the Packers still exists. It will make for a fascinating 2021 season, and it means that there is still no clarity about what will happen after that.