It’s never been about the money for Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers, 38, declined a two-year contract extension offer from the Green Bay Packers this offseason that would have made him the highest-paid quarterback in football, according to ESPN.
The extension would have tied Rodgers to the Packers for five more seasons through 2025.
Packers CEO Mark Murphy, GM Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur all reportedly flew out to California in the spring to try and find common ground with their QB. NFL Network reported in March that Green Bay was working on renegotiations to placate the reigning MVP.
This contract offer was the natural result of their efforts to resolve this standoff prior to training camp, which opens next Tuesday for most NFL teams, the Packers included. It remains an open question whether Rodgers will show up on time, if at all.
Rodgers’ discontent was never motivated by money, however. Rodgers doesn’t want to be in Green Bay. His decision to decline that offer reinforces that more money won’t change how he feels.
Rodgers’ problems go all the way up the organization to Murphy. Rodgers is fed up with the organization’s inner workings and a lack of trust.
The straw that broke the camel’s back reportedly was the Packers’ 2020 first-round selection of Utah State quarterback Jordan Love without informing Rodgers of possible plans to replace him.
Last May, after the Love pick, Rodgers acknowledged that “my sincere desire to start and finish with the same organization … may not be a reality.” At the time, it seemed he was looking for the team to recommit to him. Rodgers then won his third MVP award in 2020 while keeping Love nailed to the bench.
But then the underappreciated Rodgers watched as Tom Brady dictated a change of scenery to Tampa, beat Rodgers’ Packers in the NFC Championship Game, and called the shots on the way to another Super Bowl.
The L.A. Rams reportedly checked in on Rodgers in March during free agency but ultimately couldn’t wait and pivoted to a trade for Detroit’s Matthew Stafford.
So this past April, the MVP seemingly tried to force his way out of town in a trade to San Francisco.
The night before the NFL draft, the 49ers called the Packers with a trade offer for the reigning MVP and star quarterback, Vikings play-by-play man Paul Allen reported.
Allen said the Niners’ trade offer for Rodgers included the No. 3 overall pick, Jimmy Garoppolo and four other draft picks, including two in 2022. ESPN contended no official offer ever happened, but according to ProFootballTalk, Rodgers wanted Green Bay to accept the deal.
The news exploded when ESPN pushed it forward on the first night of the draft, declaring that Rodgers had told certain members of the organization that he doesn’t want to return to the Packers.
Rodgers is under contract through 2023, but in May, he told ESPN that this is about more than just the young quarterback, Love.
“It’s never been about the draft pick, picking Jordan [Love],” Rodgers said. “It’s just kind of about a philosophy, you know? And maybe forgetting that it is about the people that make the thing go. ... It’s about character. It’s about culture. It’s about doing things the right way. A lot of this was put in motion last year. The wrench was just kind of thrown into it when I won the MVP and played the way I played last year. So this is just kind of I think the spill out of all that.”
Rodgers skipped all of the Packers’ offseason practices and OTAs. He guest-hosted “Jeopardy.” He got engaged to actress Shailene Woodley.
Then during a celebrity golf match in early July, when asked if he’d be Green Bay’s starting QB in Week 1, Rodgers coyly answered: “We’ll see.”
Reports have suggested that Rodgers could refuse to play during the 2021 season at all.
The Denver Broncos all along have seemed like a likely landing spot in the event Green Bay does trade Rodgers, but earlier this month, Broncos ambassador Peyton Manning told MLB Network that “my gut is [Rodgers is] not coming to Denver.
“My gut is Denver’s gonna have Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater be their quarterback,” Manning said. “At this point, you gotta kinda know what your plan is. You can’t [have] a new quarterback three weeks before the season.”
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