Aaron Rodgers confirms return to Green Bay Packers, disputes contract reports
GREEN BAY — After almost a full year of questions about his future with the Green Bay Packers, there is some clarity for the future of Aaron Rodgers, as the back-to-back NFL MVP confirms he will return to the team.
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport reports that Rodgers has agreed to a 4-year, $200 million contract that would make him the highest-paid player in NFL history, surpassing the record contract signed by Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes. Of that total, $153 million would be guaranteed.
A contract extension or contract restructure was considered necessary to help the Packers’ strained salary cap situation and give them the ability to keep a Super Bowl-caliber team around Rodgers.
Pat McAfee, who routinely hosts Rodgers on his talk show, also confirmed Rodgers’ return to Green Bay.
Those reports came before Rodgers himself tweeted Tuesday afternoon to confirm his return, but disputing reports of a new contract.
Last month, Rodgers made a post on Instagram thanking a number of people, including Shailene Woodley and several teammates past and present, causing some speculation that Rodgers was considering moving on from the Packers — or football altogether.
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Rodgers indicated shortly after the Packers’ elimination from the playoffs that he would not take as long as he did last year to make a decision on whether he would return, acknowledging that the Packers’ front office would have to make a series of decisions based on whether or not he would be back. He also stayed in Green Bay for several days after the Packers’ elimination from the playoffs to speak with the organization’s leaders about the future.
“We’d love for him to be a Packer and be a Packer until the day he decides to retire,” LaFleur told reporters during his season-ending press conference.
It was a much different tone than the one Rodgers struck last year, when he seemed to question his future with the Packers following their loss to the eventual champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game. Still, Rodgers said at one point that he didn’t see why he wouldn’t be back — only for that to change on the day the 2021 NFL Draft began.
On that day last April, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Rodgers had grown frustrated with the Packers’ front office and wanted out. That touched off several months of speculation about where the relationship soured and whether the team would trade him, if he would hold out of training camp, or even if he would retire. After missing some mandatory offseason programs, Rodgers eventually returned to the Packers on the same day training camp opened last July.
Upon his return, Rodgers spoke candidly about his problems with the team’s management up to that point. Social media posts from Rodgers and star wide receive Davante Adams — who was in the last year of his contract — referencing the documentary “The Last Dance,” which chronicled the final season of the Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen Chicago Bulls dynasty, only added to the speculation that the 2021 season could have been the last in Green and Gold for both players.
It was during training camp that Rodgers also made a comment that would come back as a source of criticism months later, when he responded to a question about his COVID-19 vaccination status but saying, “Yeah, I’ve been immunized.” Rodgers later tested positive for COVID-19, after which it was revealed that he was not vaccinated, and had been placed in protocols for unvaccinated players.
Rodgers attempted to defend his wording from the July press conference and said he felt vaccination was not right for him. Rodgers continued to criticize the NFL’s vaccination protocols and different standards for unvaccinated players throughout the season, but said he did not wish to be part of the political discourse.
Rodgers did not play in any of the Packers’ three preseason games, and after a rough start to the season against the New Orleans Saints, Rodgers and the Packers offense rebounded to once again put up some of the best statistics in the league. Rodgers finished the year with 4,115 passing yards, 37 touchdown passes and a league-low 4 interceptions, earning the fourth MVP award of his future-Hall of Fame career.
The Packers were able to clinch the top overall seed in the NFC Playoffs thanks to that MVP season, but Rodgers and the Packers offense sputtered in their first playoff game, losing to the San Francisco 49ers 13-10 on a field goal as time expired in the divisional round. The Packers were left to watch the rest of the playoffs at home, while two teams they beat in the regular season — the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals — played in the Super Bowl.
Rodgers was a surprise first-round pick by the Packers in the 2005 NFL Draft, as the team was coming off a 10-6 record with Brett Favre at quarterback in the 2004 season. Rodgers played sparingly in his first three pro seasons behind Favre, appearing in a total of seven regular-season games, but the team moved on from Favre in a messy separation before the 2008 season. After going 6-10 in the first season with Rodgers as the starter, the Packers had a losing season in which Rodgers started a majority of the games just once — in 2018, the season in which Mike McCarthy was fired mid-season.
The Packers won the Super Bowl in Rodgers’ third year as the starting quarterback in the 2010 season, but were never able to make it back, despite coming close multiple times — most notably in 2014 season, when the Packers’ defense and special teams let a large lead slip away in Seattle against the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game.
After Matt LaFleur became the Packers’ head coach in 2019, Rodgers and the Packers offense saw a resurgence that brought hope of another Super Bowl appearance, but that never materialized, with two losses in the NFC Championship game before this year’s early exit.
During his career, Rodgers has thrown for 55,360 passing yards, 449 touchdowns, 93 interceptions, and a QB Rating of 104.5. He is the Packers’ all-time leader in touchdown passes after passing Brett Favre’s mark of 442 during the 2021 season, and ranks second behind Favre’s 61,655 passing yards.
Rodgers also ranks among the NFL’s greats in the league record books, ranking 10th all-time in career passing yards, 5th all-time in passing touchdowns, and 2nd all-time in QB Rating.
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