With each passing day, new details of Aaron Rodgers’ relationship with the Green Bay Packers seem to emerge. Even the most pro-player football fans around, however, will probably take issue with a new report about the quarterback’s behavior.
According to Mike Garafolo, Rodgers’ feelings about the Packers are nothing new. In fact, he apparently told prospective free agents that he wouldn’t be with the team for the long haul dating back to the 2020 offseason.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers seem to have an irreparable relationship
In the modern NFL, few players are more important to the fate of a franchise than a star quarterback. That, at least in part, explains why Rodgers’ disintegrating relationship with the Packers has stolen the league’s spotlight.
While we’re still primarily dealing with reports from insiders and going on the word of “sources,” the general storyline that’s emerged is that Rodgers is unhappy with the Packers organization. At least part of the bad blood seems to stem from the 2020 NFL draft when Green Bay selected a quarterback without warning their starter. While every player will eventually have to retire, the arrival of his heir apparent seemed to rub Rodgers the wrong way.
Even beyond that draft pick, you could also argue that the Packers didn’t support Rodgers as well as they could have with offensive talent over the years. Green Bay’s first-round draft picks have primarily been defensive players, which, in theory, could have left the quarterback looking for some love.
At this point, though, things are locked in a stalemate. Rodgers, as far as we know, doesn’t want to rejoin the Packers. The team, refusing to be held hostage, doesn’t seem keen on trading him for pennies on the dollar. Regardless of what happens, though, things will only get messier.
Aaron Rodgers reportedly told free agents that he wouldn’t be in Green Bay much longer
In the grand scheme of things, NFL fans only learned of Rodgers’ desire to leave the Packers relatively recently. Prospective free agents, however, apparently heard that something was amiss as early as last season.
“What I’m told from multiple sources is that Aaron Rodgers was telling the Packers’ prospective free agents basically, ‘Before you make any decision, I’m probably not going to be here,” NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo explained. “And, to the point where he was telling them, I’m told, all the way back to the beginning of last season. Now that was in the wake, the months after, after the team had drafted Jordan Love.”
While Garafolo wasn’t sure if those statements impacted any free agents’ decisions or not—David Bakhtiari and Aaron Jones signed new deals with the Packers—it’s still a pretty major revelation.
That act may be the straw that broke the Packers’ back
While Rodgers has been on the receiving end of plenty of criticism in recent days, he hadn’t burned every single bridge with the fans. Garafolo’s new report, however, could change everything.
Although you could easily argue that Rodgers’ unwillingness to play for the Packers again was selfish and hurting the team, that action could at least be viewed through the lens of self-defense. If he felt like he wasn’t being treated properly, he’s entitled to try to change things. Taking the nuclear option probably wasn’t the best choice, but there was some (theoretical) logic there.
Telling potential free agents that he might not be around in the future, however, crosses a line. While we don’t know if Rodgers actively dissuaded anyone from joining the Packers, those actions seem to cross a line into actively trying to hurt the organization rather than simply trying to help himself. It’s one thing to burn some bridges at the end of a relationship, but it’s another to actively spread lighter fluid on the bridge in anticipation of crossing it. How cans fans or players alike overlook sabotaging your own team’s free agency efforts?
In sports, you’ll hear plenty of cliches about playing for the name on the front of the jersey rather than the name on the front of the jersey rather than the name on the back. Rodgers, however, has apparently been focused on the latter for longer than anyone thought.