“I don’t want to be part of a reconstruction if I want to continue playing”
Aaron Rodgers was “a little numb” after the Green Bay Packers’ 13-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, and that had little to do with the 2-degree weather at Lambeau Field.
The Packers were kicked out of the playoffs again after the offense had just three points on their last nine drives, and the special teams cratered – again.
The latest playoff outing in Green Bay ushers in another round of questions regarding the two-time MVP’s presumed future with the Packers. Immediately after the loss, Rodgers said it would take some time to dive into the sequel.
“I didn’t think we would talk about it after this game,” Rodgers said. “I’m going to take some time and have conversations with people here and then take some time and make a decision – obviously before free agency or anything happens on that front. That’s cool right now. A little shocking for sure. I was hoping to have a good weekend for the NFC championship, enjoy the prep and then start considering some things, so I haven’t even left the moment really yet soak up.
When it turns out the Packers haven’t made it to the Super Bowl yet, Rodgers has a lot to weigh in on. It was in this process that Green Bay fell flat in the playoffs. The QB was asked if the way the season ended influences his thinking about the future.
“Of course it is,” he replied. “But you know there are a lot of decisions to be made, a lot of players whose future is uncertain. It will certainly be interesting to see which direction some of these decisions go. But I will have conversations with (GM) Brian (Gutekunst) next week and get a little more clarity. And think about my own future and how long I want to keep doing this.”
Packers coach Matt LaFleur said from where he sits, the club hopes Rodgers returns for an 18th season.
“Certainly we want him back here,” LaFleur said. “I think we’d be crazy not to want him here. He’s going to be the two-time MVP. This guy does so much for our football team. Not only what you see on Sunday or every game day, but what he does in this locker room. How he leads. I just know what he puts into this thing. And certainly, I’m extremely disappointed that we couldn’t get over the hump, not just for him, but for everyone in this room locker.”
Rodgers, however, took a longer-term view, noting that the Packers have a lot of tough decisions to make, not just when it comes to himself, but a host of other pending free agents.
“I think this thing is definitely going to be different going forward,” Rodgers said. “Green Bay has a lot of decisions, a lot of guys with opportunities. So it will be interesting to see what things look like. But I’m grateful for this time, for this team. Super disappointed. Disappointed. Frustrated with how I got played tonight. Frustrated with how it ended. But I can still be grateful for this season and these guys.”
The Packers are expected to exceed the salary cap by more than $40 million heading into next season, with pending free agents like star receiver Davante Adams, who could be tagged as a franchise if a long-term deal doesn’t happen. is not concluded.
With all the questions looming, Rodgers was asked if he thought it was still possible to win a Super Bowl in Green Bay or if he viewed this season as the last hurrah.
“I don’t know. That’s a good question,” he said. “Definitely one I’ve been thinking about. But there’s a lot of decisions to be made. Key players, a lot of guys who played tonight… so many guys whose contracts are on the brink or salary cap stuff “So a lot of decisions to make. I don’t want to be part of a rebuild if I want to keep playing. So a lot of decisions in the next two months.
If the Packers, with Jordan Love waiting in the wings, are ready for a big overhaul, Rodgers could seek greener pastures.
For now, the quarterback didn’t want to wonder if a trade request or a retirement was in his future.
“It’s hard to say at this point,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair for anyone or myself to go down those paths at this point. It’s disappointing. Sad. And fresh. So a lot of conversations in the next week, and start thinking after that.
For 17 seasons, Rodgers has had only one franchise. He’s won MVPs, a Super Bowl, and every individual accolade a QB could possibly possess. But again, a second trip to play for a Lombardi Trophy eluded Green Bay and Rodgers.
Rodgers was asked if Saturday was his last game with the Packers, how he views his legacy.
“I don’t know. It’s raw right now,” he said. “But very proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish here. Grateful, deeply grateful for so many years here in the organization and all the amazing teammates and coaches I’ve had over the years. It’s part of the legacy, friendships, and memories on and off the pitch. But I’m still super competitive, I still know I can play at a high level. So it’s going to be a tough decision. Lots to weigh in the weeks to come. But, man, so much gratitude for this city and this organization.”
One thing is certain: in the coming weeks, Rodgers’ future in Green Bay and in the NFL will be hotly debated.