For the second year in a row, the Green Bay Packers are entering an offseason wondering if Aaron Rodgers will want to continue as the team’s quarterback. At least this time, the relationship between the club and its superstar quarterback doesn’t seem so contentious.
Coach Matt LaFleur said Monday that he spoke to Rodgers at length in the wake of the club’s 13-10 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round on Saturday, but he’s no closer to knowing who will be taking snaps for the Pack in 2022.
“I sat down and talked to Aaron today for quite some time. I think we’re all a little numb to the situation right now and, so, I would say that what we talked about, I’m definitely gonna keep between him and myself, but we’re hopeful that he’ll be back next year, obviously,” LaFleur said. “This guy has done so much for such a long period of time for this organization, for this city, for this team, and, so, I want to be respectful of his process. Whatever he needs to go through to make the best decision for himself, and, certainly, we would love for him to be a Packer and be a Packer until the day he decides to retire.”
This time, however, there’s no controversy.
A year ago, Rodgers called his future with the Packers “uncertain” in the immediate aftermath of a 31-26 NFC title game loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in which LaFleur was roundly criticized for kicking a field goal with the Packers on the Bucs’ 8-yard line late in the game. Rodgers’ relationship with the club took on a life of its own from there, and played out as an offseason-long drama.
Rodgers is under contract for 2022, but like Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, Rodgers first has to decide if he wants to continue playing. Another season would be the 18th for the 38-year-old Rodgers. His play certainly suggests he’s got plenty left to offer. Rodgers was named to his fourth All-Pro team, and second in a row, in leading the Packers to a 13-4 record and the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
“I just want to do everything in our power to try to get him back here and making sure that he’s comfortable with the direction of our football team and confident that we can continue to have success here and again, try to find a way to get us kinda over that hump, so we can reach further and further and further,” LaFleur added. “Obviously at the end of this thing, only one team’s happy and until we’re holding that Lombardi Trophy, I don’t think we’re ever going to feel happy with where we’re at.”
Rodgers, for his part, said he’d make a decision on his future before the NFL’s free agency period begins on March 16. Until he does, the Packers’ outlook for 2022 will lack clarity.
LaFleur also said he’s a long way from deciding whether to make any staff changes in the wake of the loss to the 49ers.
Special teams were a big problem for the Packers this season, and the loss to the 49ers on Saturday was no exception. Green Bay had a field goal attempt blocked, a punt blocked, and later had only 10 men on the field when the 49ers kicked the game-winning field goal. LaFleur took blame for the miscues in postgame remarks, but calls to replace special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton will likely be loud among Packers fans in the offseason.
“So, we have not gotten involved with any part of that process with any of our coaches. Just trying to, we got to look at everything, man, we got to look at everything and if we feel like we can improve in certain areas, then we’ll make tough decisions,” LaFleur said. “But we’re not even remotely close to getting into that at this point and time.”