GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst reiterated Thursday that the team remains committed to quarterback Aaron Rodgers amid a report the reigning MVP doesn’t want to return to Green Bay.
“As we’ve stated since the season ended, we are committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond,” Gutekunst said in a statement released by the team. “Aaron has been a vital part of our success and we look forward to competing for another championship with him leading our team.”
ESPN reported in the hours leading up to the draft that Rodgers doesn’t want to return to the Packers. The ESPN report said the Packers have offered to extend Rodgers’ contract and that team CEO Mark Murphy, Gutekunst and coach Matt LaFleur each flew out separately to meet Rodgers during the offseason.
Rodgers, 37, has spent his entire career with Green Bay since the Packers selected him with the 24th overall pick in the 2005 draft. But his long-term future has been a topic of speculation ever since the Packers traded up four spots in the first round to select Rodgers’ potential successor, Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, with the 26th overall pick in last year’s draft.
Rodgers has three years remaining on his contract after signing a four-year, $134 million extension in August 2018.
Gutekunst said Monday during a pre-draft Zoom session with reporters that “Aaron’s our guy.”
“We’re really excited about Aaron Rodgers and his future with the Green Bay Packers,” Gutekunst said at the time. “We think he’s going to be our quarterback for the foreseeable future. I think that obviously every year there’s different things you go through to kind of get to the season, and I think we’re going through those right now whether it be contractually or whether it be working with our players on other things, and that’s where we are.
“Again, he’s such a unique, different player than anyone that I’ve ever been around. He affects our organization in so many different ways that you just can’t value him because he’s so important to what we do. We’re excited moving forward and we’ll kind of see where things go.”
Rodgers acknowledged after last year’s draft that he was surprised by the Love selection and that it complicated his hopes of finishing his career at Green Bay.
Even as Rodgers threw an NFL-leading 48 touchdown passes and earned his third MVP award last season, he referred to his future as a “beautiful mystery.” During a Zoom session with reporters following the Packers’ NFC championship game loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rodgers said that “a lot of guys’ futures are uncertain, myself included.”
Rodgers attempted to clarify those postgame remarks less than a week later when he said on “The Pat McAfee Show” that “I don’t think there’s any reason why I wouldn’t be back” with Green Bay in 2021.
“There’s conversations to be had. I’m going to have them with the right people,” Rodgers said at the time. “But it’s the same conversations we have every single year. There’s no big, ‘I’m going to come to the table with I need this, this and this.’ We have honest conversations about where we’re at every single year, whether that’s with Brian, Matt, Mark. I’ve had these conversations for years. That’s part of being a leader on the squad and having a pulse on the team and the direction we’re going.”
This continues an eventful stretch for Rodgers, who got engaged to actress Shailene Woodley and had a guest-hosting stint on “Jeopardy!”
Rodgers said during promotional appearances for the “Jeopardy!” stint that he’d like to be the permanent host and that he believed he could work it around his football schedule.
During Rodgers’ “Jeopardy!” guest-hosting appearance, a contestant used the final question of the show to write, “Who wanted to kick that field goal?,” a reference to the Packers’ controversial decision to attempt a field goal rather than going for it on fourth-and-goal with just over two minutes left in a game they were trailing 31-23. The Packers made the field goal but never got the ball again against the Bucs.
Rodgers said that was “a great question.” Rodgers later told the contestant, “I can see (your answer) out on the podium, and I was like, ‘Please put something about the field goal on there. You will always be all-time in my book, my friend.”