Aaron Rodgers has had nine days to ponder his future, since Green Bay’s season came to an abrupt conclusion via a home loss to the Lions in Week 18. He needs more time before deciding on what he wants to do in 2023.
Appearing with Pat McAfee and former teammate A.J. Hawk, Rodgers said, as to making decisions about his future, he’s “not mentally or emotionally at that point” to make a decision about his future.
He suggested that, after a few weeks, he’ll be in a “better frame of mind” to consider his future. For now, he said he “has a feeling” where he’s leaning.
Rodgers exited Lambeau Field as if he won’t be back. He spoke in his final press conference in ways that suggested maybe he had played his last game with the Packers.
The options are fairly narrow: (1) play for the Packers; (2) play for someone else; or (3) retire.
He can retire without owing any money back to the Packers, but he’d be giving up roughly $60 million in 2023 compensation. He could try to finagle a trade to a new team, if that team is willing to take on $60 million in financial liability. (The Packers could choose to pay some of the money to facilitate a trade.)
And while it appears that he considered joining a new team in 2022 before deciding to stay put, he could decide to finally give it a try somewhere else, if he believes he can thrive in a new spot.
“Do I still think I can play?” Rodgers said. “Of course. Of course. Can I play at a high level? Yeah, the highest. I think I can win MVP again, in the right situation. Right situation, is that Green Bay or is that somewhere else, I’m not sure. But I don’t think you should shut down any opportunity. Like I said during the season, It’s got to be both sides like actually wanting to work together moving forward, and I think there’s more conversation to be had.”
He offered a pretty strong clue as to what would prompt him to not want to play for the Packers.
“I think no player wants to be part of any type of rebuild,” Packers said. “I said that years ago. Reloads are a lot of fun, because you feel like you’re close. You’re only a couple guys away.”
So does he think the Packers are only a couple guys away? Or will he be looking for a team that is only one guy away, as in him?
Rodgers also will be paying attention to whether the Packers will be bringing back some of his favorite teammates. He mentioned tight end Marcedes Lewis, receiver Randall Cobb, tackle David Bakhtiari, receiver Allen Lazard, and tight end Robert Tonyan.
“We’ll see their desire to re-sign these certain guys who are ‘glue’ guys in the locker room,” Rodgers said, later making it clear that, if the Packers decide to rebuild, Rodgers will have no interest in playing there.
Whatever he chooses to do, the decision likely will come early in the offseason, like it did last year. The Packers need to know who their quarterback will be. And if Rodgers would play for someone else, the sooner he makes that move, the better.
Wherever he goes (if he does something other than go home), he needs to be all in, throughout the offseason program. His teammates, whether in Green Bay or somewhere else, need to get comfortable with him. He needs to get comfortable with them.
In 2022, there’s a line to be drawn between Rodgers not being around and the rookie receivers taking a long time to get themselves sufficiently comfortable. If he’s in (and he says if he’s in, he’ll be all-in), he needs to be all in.