Even Aaron Rodgers doesn’t know what the future holds for him with the Green Bay Packers.
That’s how he left things after Sunday’s 31-26 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game.
“[The Packers have] a lot of guys’ futures that are uncertain — myself included,” Rodgers said as part of an answer about how different the team could look next season and what the 2020 campaign meant to him. “That’s what’s sad about it, most, getting this far. Obviously, it’s going to be an end at some point, whether we make it past this one or not, but just the uncertainty’s tough and finality of it all.”
The 37-year-old presumptive NFL MVP is under contract through 2023 via the $134 million contract extension he signed in 2018. But his long-term future with the Packers was thrown into question when general manager Brian Gutekunst traded up to select Rodgers’ possible eventual replacement, Jordan Love, with the 26th pick in last year’s draft.
What followed was perhaps Rodgers’ best campaign — 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions in the regular season — and a fifth appearance in the NFC title game. Sunday was Rodgers’ first chance to play in the conference championship game at home, but he became the first quarterback in NFL history to lose four straight appearances in a conference championship game. His only win came in his first one as a starter, after the 2010 season, on the way to his lone Super Bowl title.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur, however, spoke strongly about Rodgers’ returning for next season.
“I sure as hell hope so,” LaFleur said. “I mean, the guy’s the MVP of this league. He’s the heart and soul of our football team. So, hell yeah, he better be back here. He’s our leader, and you know, just so appreciative of him buying into what we’re trying to get done around here and leading that group. His voice carries a lot of weight in that locker room and just, you know, I feel for him. Him being in this situation and for us not to get it done, man, it hurts.”
Rodgers has a salary-cap charge of $36.3 million in 2021 and $39.9 million in 2022. If he and the team were to go their separate ways after the 2021 season, the Packers would save $22.648 million in salary-cap space but would have to count $17.204 million in dead money. If they moved on after this season, they would save only $4.76 million on the cap and have $31.556 million in dead money.
Despite being at the top of his game and knowing full well the status of his contract, Rodgers spoke with some uncertainty about the future.
“It’s a good question,” Rodgers said when asked what’s next for him. “I don’t know; I really don’t. There’s a lot of unknowns going into this offseason now. I’m going to have to take some time away, for sure, and clear my head and just kind of see what’s going on with everything. But it’s pretty tough right now, especially thinking about the guys that may or may not be here next year. There’s always change. That’s the only constant in this business.
“It’s a grind just to get to this point. And that makes the finality of it all kind of hit you like a ton of bricks. That’s why it’s a gutting feeling in your stomach.”
Last week, Rodgers called his future a “beautiful mystery.”
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