HomeTENNISThe complete history of Aaron Rodgers’ rocky relationship with the Packers
The complete history of Aaron Rodgers’ rocky relationship with the Packers
May 27, 2021
Aaron Rodgers’ tenure with the Inexperienced Bay Packers is hurtling in the direction of an unceremonious finish. The reigning NFL MVP has been annoyed in recent times by a perceived lack of help from the entrance workplace, and now he’s fed as much as the purpose he needs out.
The story of a veteran in search of a change is a well-recognized one, but it surely’s remarkable to see a future Corridor of Famer coming off among the best seasons of their profession, one recreation faraway from the Tremendous Bowl, and deciding it’s time to make a break. It’s indicative of a relationship that has been souring for a decade and solely effervescent to the floor now, and never even success can mend this rift.
Aaron Rodgers has at all times had an advanced relationship with the NFL. That started on the 2005 NFL Draft. A Northern California native, Rodgers noticed the potential to be chosen by the 49ers with the primary total decide, even projected to be taken 1st at factors in the course of the draft. A transfer that might land him near the world he grew up in.
The draft, seen as a battle of two quarterbacks, was the final word failure of Mike Nolan’s disastrous tenure in San Francisco. We would by no means know what the soccer analysis of each gamers was, however the Niners ended up choosing Alex Smith over Rodgers, largely as a result of Nolan believed Rodgers had a powerful character, and thought the 2 would butt heads. Nolan needed a extra passive QB who understood his place, and the mild-mannered Smith match the invoice.
Usually this might have meant Rodgers dropped a few spots, touchdown on a nasty workforce the place he might play with a chip on his shoulder and attempt to show the 49ers fallacious. As a substitute 2005 was the worst potential draft to be handed on should you had been a high quarterback. Few groups actually wanted a quarterback. The vast majority of the league both had a star, had been prepared to provide yet one more 12 months to their incumbent starter, or had not too long ago drafted a QB. As well as the category wasn’t significantly hailed within the pre-draft course of, with every prospect being intently scrutinized and doubted for one purpose or one other. The consequence was Rodgers plummeting down the board, changing into a meme on draft evening as he sullenly waited for his title to be known as, solely to be handed on time, and time, and time once more.
Lastly at No. 24 the Packers determined the worth was too good to go on. Inexperienced Bay didn’t essentially want a quarterback. Brett Favre was in his mid-thirties, however the NFL’s iron man was enjoying like he nonetheless had 5 or 6 years left within the tank, coming off a season the place he handed for 4,088 yards.
So Rodgers, who dreamed of enjoying in San Francisco, and ignored by the vast majority of the league, now discovered himself on a workforce the place he’d get to sit down and be taught, however with no discernible plans for his future aside from “wait till Brett retires.”
Early years in Inexperienced Bay
Rodgers sat behind Favre in 2005 and watched because the legendary No. 4 started to say no. The 4-12 Packers had been a multitude, with Favre throwing a career-high 29 interceptions and making the entrance workplace look prescient for choosing a quarterback.
Determined to show himself, Rodgers didn’t make many associates on his workforce throughout his first season. The rookie by no means noticed considerable recreation time, as an alternative operating the scout workforce throughout observe to assist mimic opponents and put together the protection. Rodgers needed to be requested to tone down his depth, usually going too exhausting in observe and aggravating his teammates. Whether or not you chalk this as much as “aggressive fireplace,” a chip on his shoulder, or simply being a little bit of a try-hard, the consequence was that Rodgers realized the place rapidly, not simply learn how to play on the sector, however work along with his teammates off it.
Head coach Mike Sherman was fired following the season, changed with Mike McCarthy, seen as a powerful “Aaron Rodgers man.” McCarthy took Rodgers beneath his wing, personally engaged on the younger quarterback and making ready him to take over the reigns. McCarthy, who served as quarterback coach for the Chiefs and Packers earlier than changing into offensive coordinator and head coach, was the proper instructor for Rodgers, however the facet impact of this one-on-one time was that Favre was seeing his spot slip away. The child from California represented an existential risk to the dominion Favre inbuilt Wisconsin.
It made issues very awkward. Right here was Favre, one of the beloved gamers within the storied historical past of the Packers, realizing full nicely the backlash that the Packers would face ought to he be lower. In the meantime the writing was on the wall that the Packers had to start the pivot to Rodgers. It left the younger quarterback in limbo. Some followers calling for him to take over, others wanting Favre to get one other likelihood. In the meantime in San Francisco, Alex Smith was on the point of lead the 49ers in his second 12 months. Rodgers, who at all times believed he was the higher quarterback, was caught on the bench.
With the fanbase nonetheless predominantly on Favre’s facet, McCarthy was caught. Nonetheless seen as the brand new child on the block, the optics would have appeared dangerous if McCarthy took over, instantly lower Favre, and started to put in his personal system, even when he believed it was the correct transfer. So McCarthy allowed Favre the liberty to roughly name his personal photographs when it got here to his future.
That future was not vibrant.
Favre wasn’t a lot better in 2006, throwing 18 touchdowns and 18 picks in an 8-8 season. No. 4 struggled to finish 56 % of his passes, and appeared like he was performed, whether or not he admitted or not. That season made a tough scenario even worse. Sticking with Favre resigned the workforce to failure, and sitting Rodgers one other 12 months would speed up him approaching the top of his rookie contract, with out actually getting a way whether or not he might be “the man.” However this was Brett Favre, essentially the most beloved determine in trendy Packers historical past. There was a way that it didn’t matter how dangerous issues obtained, he was owed the possibility to play it out. He’d earned it.
There’s no single particular person accountable on this equation, however all sides might have dealt with it higher. Favre needed to retire a Packer, however accomplish that when he was prepared — and he wasn’t able to retire. So started the seemingly countless “will he or gained’t he?” when it got here to the query of retirement.
The massive loser on this situation was Rodgers. He discovered himself misplaced within the shuffle. Some followers needed him to take over the reigns, however the majority had been on Favre’s facet for nostalgic functions. Resentment began to construct between Favre and the Packers, with the veteran feeling like he was not valued, and the Rodgers’ future grew to become a play factor. Inexperienced Bay couldn’t afford to maintain Favre on the roster along with his cap hit in the event that they weren’t planning to begin him. Now, whether or not or not you suppose Favre actually grappled with retirement over 2006 and 2007, the consequence is identical. Rodgers needed to wait.
The torch is lastly handed
Favre bounced again in 2007 in a serious means. Making up for his struggles of the earlier two years he lead the Packers again to the playoffs in an incredible trendy comeback. It wasn’t the Tremendous Bowl win he hoped to exit on, but it surely was sufficient to proceed the mystique of Favre as an NFL legend.
Nonetheless spectacular the season was, the time to hold it up had come and everybody knew it. In March of 2008 Brett Favre introduced his retirement from the NFL, saying he’d solely wish to return if he thought he might win a Tremendous Bowl — and realizing it was a slim likelihood, he was able to stroll away.
So, after years of ready, now it was time for Rodgers to take over the Inexperienced Bay Packers. The job he’d been molded for in the course of the first three years of his profession. McCarthy and Rodgers moved full steam forward into putting in the offense they’d been constructing, which was a stark departure from Favre’s deep throwing, gun slinging model, and extra according to trendy NFL ideas of chain transferring.
Then Brett was again.
Simply because the Packers had been making ready to move to coaching camp, Favre mentioned he was un-retiring. The drama of Favre’s on-again, off-again flirtations with retirement had grated too lengthy on Packers followers, and this time the bulk had been in favor of No. 4 going away. Inexperienced Bay had given the veteran quarterback two seasons longer than most organizations would have, an appreciative gesture for all the things he’d performed for the workforce. Nonetheless, now that he was saying he was coming again frustration mounted. There weren’t solely purposeful wage cap points with Favre returning, however a distraction the workforce didn’t want throughout its rebuild.
Attempting to make his return appear as if it wasn’t disruptive, Favre requested for his unconditional launch. The way you understand this act is up for dialogue. There are equal causes to imagine Favre’s sincerity, as there are the truth that by ready till July he maximized the strain placed on the Packers. As a substitute of with the ability to commerce him in the course of the draft, or giving the workforce a complete offseason to arrange, they had been as an alternative given one week from when Favre first contacted the workforce about returning, to creating his intentions public.
The Packers had been satisfied that the Vikings had not solely satisfied Favre to return, however had been integral within the timing of his announcement to place strain for a full launch. Inexperienced Bay filed tampering prices in opposition to Minnesota, although these had been in the end discovered to not have advantage.
As a substitute Inexperienced Bay discovered a commerce associate, sending Favre to the New York Jets for a conditional fourth spherical decide. Hardly the return they could have gotten six months earlier coming off a scorching season, however not less than it obtained the quarterback off Inexperienced Bay’s books.
A 12 months later he would signal with the Vikings, main the workforce to the playoffs in opposition to the group who beloved him for nearly 20 years.
Rodgers in cost
There was an immense quantity of strain on Rodgers to show he might be the man. Not solely did he have the standard expectations of a beginning quarterback, however the information that every one season lengthy he’d be in comparison with Favre out in New York.
Whereas Favre returned to mediocrity with the Jets, Rodgers grew to become a star instantly. It was clear the workforce was not again to contending for a Tremendous Bowl but, limping to a 6-10 report, however Rodgers was sensational, throwing for greater than 4,000 yards and ending the 12 months with a 93.8 quarterback ranking — a determine nearly on par with Favre’s stellar 2007, and it made followers rapidly neglect their nostalgia for the outdated gunslinger.
Nonetheless, there have been points. The workforce actually solely had two succesful NFL receivers in an ageing Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. It was obvious the workforce wanted to get Rodgers extra weapons so as to take a step ahead. But, they didn’t. Nonetheless, Aaron Rodgers proved why he’s so good in 2009, taking primarily the identical offense and enjoying nearly flawless soccer, lifting the Packers to 11-5.
The Packers quickly realized that they didn’t actually need to place an elite workforce round Aaron Rodgers. He was so gifted, his really feel for the sport so on level, and his relationship with McCarthy such an ideal union that he might carry this workforce thought something. In 2010 he did simply that.
Successful the Tremendous Bowl
Simply two years faraway from taking up a starter, Rodgers proved the Packers had been on the precipice of a dynasty by main the workforce to a Tremendous Bowl win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Nonetheless to today, the season doesn’t make a substantial amount of sense. Driver had fully fallen off at age 35, Jennings was unquestionably among the best receivers within the league on the time — however there actually wasn’t a lot else to talk of on offense. Rodgers led a hodge-podge group (on the time) of 500-yard receivers and turned the Packers right into a Tremendous Bowl workforce.
This was an excellent 10-6 squad in the course of the common season, however they caught fireplace within the playoffs by profitable a sequence of gutsy one-score video games in opposition to the NFC’s finest (aside from Atlanta who they demolished by 27 factors). Then, within the Tremendous Bowl they did the identical. Right here was Ben Roethlisberger with Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antwaan Randle-El, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, the deepest and most terrifying receiving corps within the NFL, and Rodgers managed to beat the Steelers’ vaunted protection along with his island of misfit toys.
Following the Tremendous Bowl win the sky was the restrict for the Inexperienced Bay Packers. In the event that they had been ready to do that with the workforce they assembled round Rodgers, what would the Packers do once they put a greater workforce round their star quarterback?
That by no means occurred.
A decade of promise, washed down the drain
Overlook fandom, or allegiance — what occurred for the following 10 years was one of many greatest disappointments within the trendy NFL, leaving us with large questions on what might have been. Yr in, 12 months out, Aaron Rodgers was spectacular, however the Packers had been left wanting. It could be somewhat unfair to color this as a one man present contemplating the workforce discovered Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, each of whom emerged as two of Rodgers’ favourite receivers, however the main situation Inexperienced Bay had is a continuing philosophy that their quarterback might carry out with the naked minimal, and little extra.
This grew to become particularly problematic because the Packers grew to become unwilling to match free agent contracts for receivers. James Jones left following the 2014 season, then Nelson and Cobb in 2018. Typical knowledge would inform you that the Packers, who had been at one level so good at holding their cabinets stocked, would proceed to draft receivers and hold the offense firing — however they didn’t.
Inexperienced Bay was a staple of the playoffs, a yearly risk to win the Tremendous Bowl, however by no means managed to transform on their promise.
What might have been …
Maybe essentially the most outstanding factor in regards to the Packers in recent times are the offensive weapons they determined to go on within the first two rounds of the draft, solely to see them go to different groups shortly after.
2017: Packers go on JuJu Smith-Schuster within the 2nd spherical, take security Josh Jones. Smith-Schuster is taken by the Steelers with the next decide.
2018: Packers go on taking D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley, each of whom turn out to be 1,000 yard receivers. As a substitute they take cornerback Jaire Alexander.
2019: Packers go on A.J. Brown and D.Okay. Metcalf to pick out two defensive gamers within the first spherical, and a middle within the second. The pair of receivers all turn out to be 1,000 yard gamers.
The purpose isn’t that the Packers drafted badly, in truth a number of of the gamers they took are superb NFL gamers, and even Professional Bowl caliber. This situation is a elementary lack of knowledge of what it takes to win a Tremendous Bowl within the trendy NFL. The workforce stored loading on protection, significantly within the secondary, whereas depriving Rodgers of gamers he might use to make the offense thrive.
Over this time interval the Packers protection did enhance from twenty second total in 2016, to ninth in 2020 — however didn’t recover from the hump throughout this era. Every season a obvious downside remained: Rodgers wanted extra on offense.
The 2020 NFL Draft, a breaking level
Rodgers’ frustration with the Packers had largely been quiet over this era. If he was upset the workforce wasn’t giving him weapons it was largely hidden from followers. Nonetheless, issues boiled over in the course of the 2020 draft.
The Packers had been nonetheless profitable, going 13-3 the earlier 12 months — however there have been main points on offense. Davante Adams was Rodgers’ solely actual top-tier weapon, and with Nelson and Cobb being gone the workforce’s scoring continued to stagnate. Lifts to the protection positively helped the Packers win common season soccer video games, however a crushing loss to the 49ers within the NFC Championship confirmed that the offense has turn out to be too one dimensional and predictable with Rodgers and Adams being the nucleus.
The choice to take a large receiver was so apparent, so obvious that it felt just like the most secure projection in mock drafts of the 12 months. The Packers waited, set to pick out thirtieth, then traded up. It felt just like the Packers had their man to lastly give Aaron Rodgers some assist.
Then they chose a quarterback.
Taking Jordan Love with the twenty sixth decide impressed all types of romanticism of historical past repeating, very like when the Packers took Rodgers over a decade earlier than, however the circumstances contained in the group had been very, very completely different. When the Packers chosen Rodgers they had been a whole soccer workforce with out many obvious wants, extending them the luxurious of trying ahead. Now they had been a profitable workforce, however fractured and in dire want of assist if Inexperienced Bay hoped to return to the Tremendous Bowl.
Whether or not perceived or actual, the decide felt like a slap within the face to Aaron Rodgers. A tacit transfer that indicated he was slowing down, regardless of there not being any indicators of this being the case. As a substitute of touchdown a much-needed receiver, Inexperienced Bay selected a participant who would experience the bench for years. It wasn’t simply that the Packers took a QB, however that they by no means mentioned or consulted with Rodgers forward of time to gauge his emotions about it, or assess the place he noticed his future.
Packers GM Brian Gutekunst, who took excessive job in 2018 when Ted Thompson was compelled to retire on account of medical causes, instantly got here beneath fireplace for the choice to pick out Love. It created pointless drama the place there didn’t should be any. All of the Packers wanted was a skill-position heavy draft, which might have benefitted the workforce even after Rodgers’ tenure, and Inexperienced Bay didn’t go the bottom bar.
2020, a 12 months of predictability
Historical past repeated itself the next 12 months, nearly right down to the letter. The Packers had been unbelievable within the common season, as soon as once more surging to a 13-3 report and changing into NFC favorites to make the Tremendous Bowl. Rodgers put collectively one in every of his finest seasons, profitable the MVP award in a 12 months that felt prefer it had to be the one the place Inexperienced Bay put it collectively.
The workforce breezed by means of the Rams within the divisional playoff spherical, and had been pegged to be favorites in opposition to a Buccaneers workforce constructed nearly off an Aaron Rodgers want listing. Right here was Tom Brady, the oldest quarterback within the NFL, thriving on account of being given a wide selection of offensive weapons. In the meantime Rodgers walked onto Lambeau Discipline in a well-recognized place: Davante Adams, and little else.
Adams was ostensibly shut down within the recreation, ending with 67 yards and a landing. As soon as once more Rodgers performed phenomenally, however simply didn’t have sufficient round him to get previous the Bucs. If solely the workforce had drafted offense closely earlier that 12 months, as an alternative of taking a developmental quarterback.
To compound this situation got here the nonsensical choice by LaFleur to have Mason Crosby kick a 26-yard discipline objective when the Packers had been down by eight within the fourth quarter, quite than put the ball in Rodgers’ palms and belief him to tie it up. It was dangerous sufficient that Rodgers was questioning his future instantly following the sport.
Rodgers checks out
On the morning of the 2021 NFL Draft, the bomb dropped.
Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers is so disgruntled with the Inexperienced Bay Packers that he has informed some throughout the group that he doesn’t wish to return to the workforce, league and workforce sources informed ESPN on Thursday.
Extra on NFL Stay now….
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 29, 2021
We don’t fairly know the timeline of Rodgers deciding he wanted out of Inexperienced Bay, however discuss of a potential exit exploded within the days main as much as the 2021 NFL Draft. It was reported that the quarterback-needy 49ers, the workforce that handed on him again in 2005, had been prepared to throw the home at Inexperienced Bay to get Rodgers, probably emulating the win-now mantra Tampa Bay had used to safe a hoop.
The Packers mentioned no.
It’s unclear if Rodgers knew in regards to the 49ers supply previous to it going public, however he was clearly very upset. It was his notion that the workforce had been trying to transfer on, and even when they weren’t, the entrance workplace wasn’t taken with getting him extra weapons to succeed with. Rodgers needed to be in San Francisco, near the world he grew up, on a workforce with weapons the place he might thrive, and inside an earshot of Los Angeles, the place oddly sufficient his burgeoning recreation present profession was taking off, filling in as a number on Jeopardy! following Alex Trebek’s premature dying.
With the door closed on a deal to San Francisco rumors emerged of the place Rodgers would play. Within the hours main as much as the draft it reached a fevered pitch, with Rodgers allegedly solely prepared to go to the Broncos, 49ers, or Raiders — with Denver finest positioned to make a powerful play.
That didn’t materialize both. Mid-afternoon Gutekunst issued a injury management assertion indicating the workforce had no intention of dealing Rodgers.
“As we’ve acknowledged because the season ended, we’re dedicated to Aaron in 2021 and past. Aaron has been a significant a part of our success and we stay up for competing for one more championship with him main our workforce.”
The injury was far past salvageable. Followers had been irate, Rodgers was livid, and the Packers had been left with a catastrophe of their very own making. Years of tolerating a scarcity of help had boiled over, with the drafting of Love serving as a catalyst. Drafting a quarterback felt disrespectful, failing to commerce him to a workforce he needed to play for served as the ultimate straw.
Information emerged that the connection between Rodgers and Gutekunst couldn’t be salvaged. Rodgers had been evaluating Gutekunst to Jerry Krause in messages with different gamers, the loathed former GM of the Chicago Bulls, who’s infamously credited with tearing aside the mid-nineties Bulls dynasty.
How all this charges is a matter of perspective. You may suppose it’s past the pale for Rodgers to go after Gutekunst privately, but it surely’s emblematic of his frustration with the Packers boiling over. His analogy or evaluating his GM to Krause could be labored, but it surely reveals that he thinks the entrance workplace is killing the workforce’s probabilities of profitable. And, very like Rodgers was again in 2005, Jordan Love is now trapped within the center by no fault of his personal.
What occurs subsequent?
The Packers and Rodgers are at a standstill. Rumors proceed to swirl about whether or not groups can put a commerce package deal collectively that may entice Inexperienced Bay, however as time drags on the opportunity of an excellent return will dwindle — particularly if Rodgers refuses to report back to the Packers this summer season.
There isn’t any winner on this situation. The Packers are in a tough place. Rodgers is being labeled as a malcontent by a few of his staunchest supporters, and followers are caught in an all too acquainted place of supporting their workforce, or one in every of their favourite gamers.
Inside all this stays one irrefutable truth: The Packers didn’t construct a profitable workforce round Aaron Rodgers. They’d years to remodel a Tremendous Bowl workforce right into a dynasty, and failed. Yr in, 12 months out Inexperienced Bay was among the best groups within the NFL, however by no means managed to transform their common season success into championships. Rodgers was a continuing, at all times acting at a excessive stage — so had been the Packers, not likely doing a lot of consequence.
Aaron Rodgers stays not simply among the best quarterbacks within the NFL proper now, however one of many biggest of the final decade. A transcendent expertise who by no means obtained his likelihood to cement himself with the good leaders of NFL dynasties as a result of the entrance workplace didn’t put a workforce round him that might maintain success. Whether or not Rodgers leaves or stays, his story within the NFL will stay one of many league’s nice “what ifs?” and that’s a disgrace.