INDIANAPOLIS — One week since Aaron Rodgers emerged from the darkness, the Green Bay Packers remain in the dark on their longtime quarterback’s plans for the 2023 season.
General manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters on Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine that he has not been informed of Rodgers’ plans and that the QB has not spoken with the team at length since the end of the 2022 season.
“We haven’t really had those conversations yet,” Gutekunst said. “Not a lot to report until we have those conversations. … We’ve exchanged some texts and things like that, but we haven’t had a chance to speak yet.
“Our feelings haven’t changed about Aaron, but we need to have some of those conversations about our team, where it’s going, where he’s at before we go forward.”
Rodgers said after the disappointing conclusion to Green Bay’s 2022 season that he needed to “get away and contemplate those things,” regarding his future with the Packers and in the NFL ahead of his 19th season in the pros. Rodgers went away, notably to a “darkness retreat” earlier this month, as he assessed the state of his career while the Packers and the league awaited his conclusion.
If Rodgers does not come back to the Pack, Gutekunst expressed confidence on Tuesday, as he has in the past, in Jordan Love potentially taking the reins in Green Bay.
“We’re excited about him,” Gutekunst said. “I’ve expressed to a lot of people that he needs to play. That’s the next step in his progression. Jordan’s done a great job, worked really hard so he’s doing everything we’re asking.”
Love made one notable appearance in the 2022 season, filling in for the injured Rodgers in a prime-time game in Philadelphia. Love’s solid outing (6-of-9, 113 yards, TD) against the future NFC champions was enough to inspire confidence in the 24-year-old ahead of his fourth NFL campaign.
Green Bay still has to decide by May 1 whether to exercise the former first-round pick’s fifth-year option, which Gutekunst said they’re still “working through” as other dominoes still need to fall in Wisconsin. What’s not up for debate is Love’s desire to start next season.
“He’s probably expressed that he wants to start every season,” Gutekunst told NFL.com. “He knows where he’s at, and I think he’s eager to play. So he wants that opportunity. Sometimes those things are out of your control, like they have been for him over the last few years. But he’s ready and excited.”
If Rodgers were to return to the team in 2023 or demand a trade to another organization, his contract would need restructuring, which Gutekunst acknowledged Tuesday.
Rodgers is due $59.515 million in 2023, including $58.3 million structured as an option bonus that lowers his cap number to about $31.6 million if he’s on the Packers next season, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported earlier this month. If Rodgers is traded, the Packers would need to rework the deal for cap purposes prior to any trade.
The four-time All-Pro QB’s 2023 destination is one of the first big dominoes yet to fall in the 2023 offseason. In a free-agent QB market peppered with Lamar Jackson and Derek Carr at the top, Rodgers’ decision whether to return to football, request a trade or even play in 2023, even as he enters his age-40 season, will dictate how the class shakes out and who will land where.
But the NFL won’t wait for Rodgers forever.
There is a deadline for the Packers and other teams to move on from this conversation, and that’s the start of the new league year on March 15.
“Free agency’s coming up here. That’s an important part of what we’re doing, so it’d be nice to have some answers before then,” Gutekunst explained, “but until we have any conversations, we’re still in a good spot.”