Rodgers runs down issues with Packers, seeks more influence
Aaron Rodgers spoke candidly about his issues with the Green Bay Packers for the first time Wednesday, pointing to the treatment of outgoing veterans, his exclusion from major decisions, and his contract status.
"This started with a conversation in February as the season ended," the quarterback said. "I just expressed my desire to be more involved in conversations directly affecting my job."
Rodgers reported for training camp after skipping all team activities throughout the offseason. The Packers avoided a camp holdout by agreeing to various concessions with him.
The three-time MVP named 12 former Packers - including Charles Woodson, Jordy Nelson, Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, and Randall Cobb - who were once part of the fabric of the team but later weren't "offered a contract at all, or were extremely lowballed, or were, in my opinion, not given the respect on the way out that guys of their status and stature and high character deserved."
The Packers are finalizing a trade to reacquire Cobb from the Houston Texans in a move believed to serve as a sign of good faith from the organization.
The 37-year-old became further disgruntled when the Packers kept him out of conversations pertaining to free agency, continuing a trend he fought hard to reverse.
"I wanted to offer my services as a recruiter," he said. "I think we can all understand Green Bay isn't a huge vacation destination, people are coming here to play with me, to play with our team, and knowing that they can win a championship here. The fact that I haven't been used in those discussions was one I wanted to change moving forward. I feel like based on my years, the way I can still play, that that should be a natural part of the conversation."
Rodgers said "nothing really changed" as the market opened in March. At the same time, the Packers failed to approach him about an extension, which would have given Rodgers security beyond 2021 - he has no guaranteed money on his contract after this year - and lowered his exorbitant cap hit, thereby helping the team.
"If you can't commit to me past 2021 and I'm not a part of the recruiting process in free agency - if I'm not a part of the future, then instead of letting me be a lame-duck quarterback, if you want to make a change and move forward then go ahead and do it," he said.
The reigning MVP said "there wasn't a conversation" about his contract until May, when the Packers tried "throwing some money" at him to appease him.
Rodgers also revealed that he didn't speak to head coach Matt LaFleur until a deal was already in place to hire him in 2019.
"I wasn't part of that conversation, let's make that completely clear," Rodgers said. "I do love Matt, and we've had a blast together, and I'm glad he's here. But it's decisions like that that have happened over and over and over again that make me realize that the organization looks at me and my job like it's just to play. In my opinion, based on what I've accomplished in this league, the way I care about my teammates, the way I show up in the locker room, the way I lead, the way I conduct myself in the community, it should tie myself to a little bit more input.
"The rules are the same for most people but every now and then there's some outliers - guys who have been in organizations for 17 years and won a few MVPs where they can be in conversations at a different, higher level. I'm not asking for anything that other great quarterbacks across the last few decades have not gotten."
He then admitted he wished the franchise informed him Jake Kumerow was being cut in training camp in 2020. Green Bay made the move shortly after Rodgers raved about his performance on the practice field.
"If you're going to cut a guy who was our second-best wide receiver in training camp last year, maybe run it by me," he said.
Rodgers confirmed he contemplated retiring to avoid another season with the Packers, but knows there's a "big competitive hole in my body that I need to fill."
As he's done since the Packers drafted his apparent replacement Jordan Love, Rodgers left his future in Titletown open-ended.