The offseason turmoil and fractured relationship between Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have been well reported, from his offseason excursions to Hawaii with actor Miles Teller to his stint as the host of Jeopardy! The newfound meta Rodgers with his man bun and newly acquired zen demeanor is something to behold.
It’s also been well documented that Rodgers was less than thrilled when the Packers released wide receiver Jake Kumerow before the 2020 season almost immediately after Rodgers was singing his praises.
Rodgers recently praised tight end Bronson Kaufusi, and it would be the most comical situation imaginable if the Packers turned around and immediately released him. They need to not do that.
Jake Kumerow was a training camp favorite of Rodgers
As the team was having to make final roster cuts on Sept. 5, 2020, Kumerow was released. The Packers could keep five wide receivers on the roster and opted to keep undrafted free agent Malik Taylor instead of Kumerow. This came one day after Rodgers publicly praised Kumerow.
When asked about which wide receivers stepped up during training camp last year, Rodgers spoke about the top four guys who played significant minutes for the Packers last year, then went on to praise Kumerow.
“Jake Kumerow has been such a solid performer for us for the last couple of years. I love his reliability. I think he’s a fantastic steady player, who’s very heady on the field. He makes plays, he plays with a lot of confidence, and he’s a guy who you love having on the squad,” Rodgers told SiriusXM NFL Radio.
After neglecting to draft a wide receiver to help Rodgers and trading up to draft a potential successor, the Packers cut Kumerow the day after their future Hall of Fame quarterback specifically mentioned that he wants him on the team. Kumerow eventually signed with the Buffalo Bills.
No wonder Rodgers was fuming.
Aaron Rodgers has praised tight end Bronson Kaufusi
The newest chapter involves a former defensive end converted to tight end who has apparently made quite the impression on Rodgers.
“Part of what I love is getting to know these other guys — our tight end, Bronson Kaufusi, I love him. One of the happiest guys ever,” Rodgers told Peter King of NBC Sports.
Here we go again, praising players who are on the roster bubble.
Rob Demovsky, who covers the Packers for ESPN, had a golden one-liner to Rodgers at training camp.
“I can’t wait to see what Kaufusi does in Buffalo this year,” Demovsky said.
Rodgers let out a wry smile and muttered “Jesus, Rob.”
It’s hard to blame him.
Brian Gutekunst needs to keep Kaufusi
Yes, the franchise pillar of Rodgers is back in the building, but apparently, retirement was a very real possibility.
“I mean, I felt going into the weekend before camp that I was 50/50,” Rodgers said on the Dan Le Batard & Friends Podcast, according to CBS Sports. “I don’t care if people don’t believe that. That’s true. There were some things that got me to 50/50 for sure, and you know I spent a couple of days in silence and meditation and contemplation and really felt like that I should come back. There’s a lot of opportunities for growth and exciting things in Green Bay and that felt like the right thing to do.”
Brian Gutekunst, who is notoriously tone-deaf about how his actions will affect the relationship between himself, the organization, and Aaron Rodgers, would largely benefit from keeping Kaufusi on the roster.
At this point, it doesn’t matter if he’s good or not. Don’t rock the boat. Find a spot for him. If he’s the fourth tight end on the depth chart after final roster cuts, so be it. This is one of those easy math situations in which Gutekunst should take out a piece of paper and a pen, and make a good, old-fashioned pros/cons list about keeping Kaufusi.
Pros: it doesn’t anger a Hall of Fame quarterback who has openly criticized how Gutekunst has run the team and his lack of involving Rodgers in personnel decisions.
Cons: doesn’t matter. See above.
If the organization wants any chance at keeping Rodgers in the Green and Gold past 2021, Gutekunst needs to tread lightly and not repeat history from last September.