Packers GM Brian Gutekunst Says Packers Remain Committed to Aaron Rodgers in 2023
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Will Aaron Rodgers be back as the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers next year? The answer to that may be rooted in what happened at the end of last year.
“We made a really big commitment to him last offseason, so I think the way we did it, it certainly wasn’t just for this year,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said Friday in reference to a contract extension. three-year, of 150 million dollars. which was signed on March 15.
After Sunday’s season-ending loss to the Detroit Lions, Rodgers left Lambeau Field pondering his future. The 39-year-old is having one of the worst statistical seasons of his career. As Rodgers retired after back-to-back MVP seasons, the team also regressed, falling short of the playoffs. He battled several injuries, most notably a broken thumb. One of those legendary hot streaks never came.
If there was ever a time for the Packers to move on from the iconic quarterback, it would be this offseason. Former first round pick Jordan Love will be entering his fourth NFL season. Time and time again, whether it’s Gutekunst or head coach Matt LaFleur, the team has said Love is ready.
But there was no hint from Gutekunst Friday that the Packers are ready to make the historic transition. If Rodgers decides to retire, the Packers will be ready to wish him well. If Rodgers wants to return, the Packers seem likely to welcome him.
“You’re talking about a four-time MVP, right?” Gutekunst said. “We’re very excited about Jordan and where he’s at, there’s no question about that, but Jordan has never played a 16-, 17-game season and gone through all that stuff. So it’s no different than when we moved from Brett (Favre) to Aaron. It’s a hard thing to say, but at the same time that Aaron is at the level he is at, there aren’t many teams that wouldn’t give him the best chance to win.
It’s clear the Packers believe Rodgers gives them the best chance to win. Otherwise, they would have gone to Love when Rodgers was battling a broken thumb. They would have gone to Love when Rodgers suffered rib injuries in a loss at Philadelphia that dropped their record to 4-8.
The Packers didn’t make the switch then. They are not ready to make the change now. So, like the last couple offseasons, the Packers will wait for Rodgers to decide his future.
Does Rodgers, in that never-ending quest for a second Super Bowl championship, want to return to a team that lost almost as many games this season as the past three seasons combined? Does Rodgers want to return to a team where some of his closest friends — age contemporaries like Randall Cobb, Marcedes Lewis and Mason Crosby — might not return?
Or, does that competitive fire start to burn next month and Rodgers decides he wants to play? And does he only want to play for the Packers because of his commitment and loyalty to the franchise?
“We had conversations as always. Spoken this week; they were really good conversations,” Gutekunst said. “I really respect the process he goes through after the season. He has been doing this for a long time. What he goes through in the offseason to prepare for a season is significant, and I understand the decision he has to make and if he wants to go through with it. So, I’ve always tried to give him that time. We talked about the season, what went well, what went wrong, what he liked, what he didn’t like.”
A lot of things went wrong this year. The Packers finished 8-9 after going 39-10 over the last three seasons. Whether it was Gutekunst’s fault for not adequately replacing Davante Adams, the coaches’ fault for not adequately adjusting to life without Adams, Rodgers’ own failings or his own injuries, the offense never looked like it had the previous two seasons.
With the season on the line, the Packers scored 16 points in a home game against a dome team with one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Rodgers didn’t have a single 300-yard game. Even when the team got hot, Rodgers didn’t, with five touchdowns against three interceptions in the last five games.
However, if Rodgers wants to return to the team he has coached since 2008, the team will give him another shot with the belief that he can regain his elite form and the Packers can quickly regain contender status.
“I think he was dealing with some moving parts, some injuries and things like that,” Gutekunst said. “It wasn’t a great year offensively for us as a whole, but you saw it, too, he can still play at a very high level. I really like the way he directed us. So again, I think as we go forward over the next month or so, we’ll start to put these things together and see how that plays out.”
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