GREEN BAY, Wisconsin – Aaron Rodgers put his right arm around Randall Cobb’s neck while Cobb put his left arm around his quarterback’s waist, the two It’s been a long time since they’ve been home together, and this might be the last time.
Shortly afterward, Rodgers parted ways with another close friend, left tackle David Bakhtiari, in a long hug in the hallway adjoining the main area of the Packers locker room.
When Rodgers was asked about his jersey by Lions rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams on the field after the game, Rodgers said he wanted to keep it, later explaining that he didn’t like exchanging “some special jerseys” with opponents.
“It’s a night game, Lambeau, Week 18,” Rodgers said. “There are just certain jerseys that you like to hold on to, like going to a Chicago game or the big game on Sunday night. It’s just a little bit different. It’s not keeping it. It’s a cool thing to give to someone you actually care about.”
When Rodgers was asked what he would miss most if he decided to hang up his cleats sometime in the next few months, he paused for 10 seconds while taking a sip of water from the podium and singled out six. A reporter who had covered him about his career and became visibly emotional.
“I’m going to miss these guys,” he said. “I’m going to miss the fans.”
Then he walked away.
— NBC Sunday Night Football (@SNFonNBC) January 9, 2023
The Packers drafted the 39-year-old Rodgers. 24th overall pick in 2005. He has been their starting quarterback since 2008 and is a four-time conference MVP and Super Bowl champion. Just like after last season, Rodgers’ future is uncertain. If he plays, he has two seasons remaining on the $58.3 million guaranteed extension he signed last offseason.
The scene at Lambeau Field after Rodgers and the Packers lost a winning game would have you thinking this is one of the best quarterbacks ever, but no one really knows if it is. Rodgers completed 17 of 27 passes for 205 yards with a touchdown and an interception, another underwhelming performance compared to what we’ve seen from the 1. 12 in recent years, in a season filled with injuries, a reduced supporting cast and a return of his own.
What Rodgers said after Sunday’s 20-16 season-ending loss to the Lions at the end of the season sounded similar to what he said after last season’s playoff loss to the 49ers in the same stadium. He’ll take enough time to make a decision and not be driven by the raw emotion of another season ending early, but he won’t hold the organization hostage.
“It’s a feeling,” Rodgers said. “Do I feel like I have something left to prove to myself? Do I want to go back and get ready for another grind? Or is it time? Is it time to go? Is it time for another voice to lead the team? I think I need to step away and think about those things. Those are real to me. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished in this league, but I’m also a realist and I understand where we are as a team. We’re a young team. There might be some changes with some of the older players and it might be time to go. But I can take a moment and say, ‘No, man. I need to get back out there for another run. But once I Get out of it and I’ll have to see how it feels.”
Rodgers has said before that he doesn’t want to go out like a “bum”. Asked Sunday how the season would end and whether his performance would prompt his return, he replied “not really,” before saying he’s very proud of what he’s accomplished in the NFL and that “it doesn’t always end in a rainbow.” Ended for all.” If he did leave this way, Rodgers doesn’t think he would look like a bum anyway. When asked if he felt like he still had “it,” Rodgers unequivocally answered yes.
The first thing he mentioned after his answer was: the loss of wide receiver Davante Adams and the inability to fill the remaining vacancies. Even so, Rodgers probably won’t get a chance to work with promising young receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Dubs in Year 2, even if he wants to play his 19th year for the Packers.
Aaron Rodgers: “I’m not going to hold them hostage.”
Rogers said he wanted to clear his emotions before making a decision about his future. pic.twitter.com/p2b4gtl0Mo
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) January 9, 2023
Rodgers, who previously suggested the Packers might not want him back, said again Sunday night that he doesn’t think the decision to return after a season with a fractured right thumb won’t be entirely his. .
“I’ve thought a lot of times, and I’ve said it throughout my tenure here, that when you don’t have success, the quarterback is going to take the brunt of it, and a lot of other times, when you’re having success, they’re going to get too much of it.” Kudos,” head coach Matt LaFleur said. “It takes everyone on the field, ultimately, all 11 for the season, and then our staff. I think we all have to do better together and that’s it. “
General manager Brian Gutekunst traded draft pick Jordan Love in the first round of 2020, and Love has sat behind Rodgers for the past three seasons. Gutkunst said in a news conference during the Packers’ Week 14 bye that he doesn’t need to see any action from Love before deciding on his fifth-year option this coming offseason, but It’s unclear whether the general manager thinks Love is a good fit to be Green Bay’s next starting quarterback whenever Rodgers leaves.
Rodgers was asked on Sunday whether Love was ready to be his successor.
“Until you’re in that position, you don’t know you’re ready,” Rodgers said. “I remember sleeping in San Diego one day and waking up to 50 texts from Brett (Favre) retiring. Then the emotion hits you. ‘Oh man, now I’m that guy. “But you still have to go out there and find your leadership and weather the first year with different defenses throwing things at you and all the pressure that comes with that. But I think he’s done a good job of improving, Work on the little things, do a good job in practice. I think he has a chance to have a long future in the league.”
Rodgers also hasn’t completely ruled out playing for another team if the Packers want to trade him, though he’s once again holding off on making any decisions about his future until after his emotions have dried up. From Green Bay’s perspective, it’s another thing to make finances work for transactions.
– Detroit Lions (@Lions) January 9, 2023
Rodgers’ decision to return was made public on March 8 last year. The deal he signed was for three years, but Rodgers said at the start of training camp that it was basically a one-year deal, plus two years, and he would re-evaluate his future again after the 2022 season.
“That’s my brother,” Cobb said of Rodgers. “That’s the guy who stood at my wedding. That’s the godfather of one of my kids. It’s bigger than football for us. We spend a lot of time together, obviously. We’re on this team in Green Bay together. It’s been a lot of years. We’ll see where life takes us.”
All the Packers and anyone else following Rodgers’ decision will just have to wait for now. Sunday night seemed to be his farewell, but it also felt that way before in recent seasons. Likely, but as Rodgers has said in the past, he could also play longer than just one more season.
In other words, after Rodgers’ emotional exit from the podium on Sunday night, the only thing that’s certain is how little we know about Rodgers’ future.
“At some point, the carousel stops and it’s time to get off, and I think you kind of know when that is,” Rogers said. “That’s the thing to think about. Is it time? Well, what do organizations do? That’s part of it. But the fire of competition is always there. I don’t think that’s ever going to go away. I think sometimes it shifts to other Might never be able to fill that huge void on things but like I said I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished in this league and don’t regret leaving. But I’ll have to see what it feels like once I get out of it .”
(Photo by Aaron Rogers: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)