Aaron Rodgers has been the starting quarterback and the main face of the Green Bay Packers for 13 years. But over the past year, his intimate bond with the team and his city seemed threatened.
Tuesday, Rodgers, 37, did not show up for a mandatory minicamp, raising the bar on his dispute with the team over his future at Green Bay. He faces a fine of around $ 100,000 for his decision.
This is the last ongoing clash between Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, and the Packers, one of the league’s most legendary franchises and his home in the NFL since the team drafted him in 2005.
Here’s what happened to produce the stalemate and how it could end.
January 7, 2019: A change at the top
The Packers hire Matt LaFleur as their head coach. The consensus is that this will provide a fresh start for Rodgers at Green Bay, as he would have often clashed with former coach Mike McCarthy. Rodgers had been seen criticizing McCarthy’s sometimes timid calls to the sidelines.
April 23, 2020: An unhappy Rodgers
Heading into the 2020 draft, Rodgers – tasked with directing and executing Green Bay’s passing game – decides the Packers need receivers. On draft day, when the team traded up to the 26th pick in the first round, he later told a reporter he “perked upOnly to see his team select… a quarterback, Jordan Love of Utah State.
By all accounts, Rodgers is not happy.
“I was really surprised,” he said told NFL Media Last July. Noting that he had recently become a tequila lover, Rodgers adds, “I went to the pantry, poured myself about four fingers and knew this would be one of those nights people start calling. “
“I was not thrilled with the choice,” he said, leaving no doubt.
Rodgers is known to quietly challenge team decisions over the years, including the selection of wide receivers and the appeal of the coaching staff. He feels the team should have won more than one Super Bowl during his tenure.
(A caveat: Much of Rodgers’ discontent has been reported by anonymous sources. He has rarely spoken publicly of recorded discontent.)
January 24, 2021: Another great year, individually
After a 13-3 season, hopes are high that Green Bay will make the Super Bowl, or win it. But playing at home, the Packers lost the NFC Championship game, 31-26, to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With two minutes to go and the Packers at the Bucs 8-yard line and 8 points behind, LaFleur chooses to throw a basket. The decision is widely criticized because the Packers never get the ball back. After the game Rodgers repeats: “It was not my decision.”
The Buccaneers win the Super Bowl as Rodgers looks back on another stellar season in which he won his third MVP award and led the league in touchdowns and passer rating. As the third string, Love is never active on a match day.
April 16: A second career?
Rodgers is completing a two week stay as a guest host of “Jeopardy!”
“It would be a dream job for sure, and I have no hesitation in saying that I want the job” he said to The Ringer. He adds that due to the show’s filming schedule, he could get the job done even if he continues to play in the NFL.
But he still can’t escape the Packers, or guess. In one memorable moment, a competitor who didn’t know the answer to one last question from Jeopardy wrote, “Who wanted to hit that basket? “
Rodgers responds with a wry smile.
“That’s a great question,” he jokes.
April 29: the rumblings are louder
News of the first round of the NFL Draft is almost overshadowed by another update from Rodgers: ESPN Reports that he now wants to leave Green Bay.
“We are committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond,” replies CEO Brian Gutekunst.
Meanwhile, the Packers draft a cornerback in round one and don’t take a receiver until round three. But at least they’re not drafting another quarterback.
May 24: MIA to OTAs
Rodgers ignores the Packers’ Organized Team Activities (OTA). Although the workouts were technically voluntary, Rodgers was to receive a bounty of half a million dollars for his participation, he will give up.
So what’s the next step?
Quite a few teams would host an MVP-winning quarterback, even one in his thirties. The Broncos (Drew Lock) and Raiders (Derek Carr) are two of the teams that would see Rodgers as an upgrade. And while the Packers seem unlikely to trade Rodgers, moving him became a more affordable option after June 1. Prior to that date, the team would have faced $ 38.356 million in dead money on their salary cap for the 2021 season if Rodgers left. If he goes now, that money can be split between the 2021 and 2022 salary caps.
Rodgers could also retire. Or all the noise and fury might mean nothing, and he could be back in the center of Green Bay by September 12, when the Packers are in New Orleans to face the Saints in Week 1.
At least one date is set: July 6, he will team up with golfer Bryson DeChambeau to face Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in a match made for television.
Beyond that, who knows? The next date to watch will be July 27, when the Packers officially begin training camp.