Aaron Rodgers

Rapoport’s Latest: Mularkey, Arians, Rodgers

It’s a busy day in the NFL, as some teams fight for the playoffs while others prepare for the offseason and their next head coach. Let’s take a look at some of the latest reports from NFL.com scribe Ian Rapoport on the eve of Black Monday:

  • Despite the fact that the Titans could clinch a playoff spot today, Rapoport says that head coach Mike Mularkey is in trouble, and if Tennessee loses to Jacksonville this afternoon, Mularkey could be fired. Indeed, he could be canned even if the Titans make the playoffs but lose in the wildcard round. Apparently, ownership is frustrated with the development of Marcus Mariota, and if the Titans dismiss Mularkey, they could go hard after Patriots OC Josh McDaniels.
  • Rapoport tweets that the Cardinals have not given up hope of enticing head coach Bruce Arians to return, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Arians is likely to step away from coaching after Arizona’s season finale today.
  • The Packers recently extended Davante Adams, and Rapoport tweets that the team will make an extension for Aaron Rodgers its top priority this offseason.
  • There are expected to be two head coaching openings in the NFC North, with the Bears and Lions preparing to look for their next sideline general this offseason. Rapoport names Patriots DC Matt Patricia as a top choice for Detroit, while the Bears could look hard at a QB guru for young signal-caller Mitch Trubisky. Rapoport tweets that the SaintsPete Carmichael, the longest-tenured OC in the league, could get a look for the Chicago job.
  • Both Cowboys coordinators (DC Rod Marinelli and OC Scott Linehan) are on the hot seat and will be thoroughly evaluated, per Rapoport (video link).

Teams Claim Packers Violated IR Rules With QB Aaron Rodgers

Last week, Aaron Rodgers was activated off the injured reserve and proceeded to play against the Panthers. Two days later, the Packers placed their franchise quarterback back on the injured reserve. Now, opposing teams are saying the organization “violated the rules regarding players who are eligible to be placed on injured reserve.”

Aaron Rodgers (vertical)ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that “multiple teams” have complained to the NFL about the apparent violation. NFL rules say a player needs to suffer a new injury that would sideline them for six weeks in order to be placed back on the injured reserve. If a team violates that rule, they’re required to release the player once they’re healthy.

Rodgers played the majority of the game last weekend, completing 26 of his 45 pass attempts for 290 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. The Packers did pull him from the game because he was “sore,” and the team placed him back on the injured reserve on Tuesday. Had the team still had a chance at the playoffs, the Packers could have continued to roll with Rodgers, but the team ultimately decided to shut him down for the season… which many teams claim breaks the IR rule.

As mentioned, if Rodgers didn’t suffer a new injury, the Packers would be required to release him once he’s healthy. As Schefter writes, no one expects the NFL to force Green Bay to cut their franchise quarterback, but these rival organizations want an explanation on why the Packers “were being granted immunity.”

Rodgers ultimately finished his 2017 campaign having completed 64.7-percent of his passes for 1,675 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. His seven games played was his lowest total since he became a full-time starter back in 2008.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Place Aaron Rodgers On IR

As expected, the Packers are placing quarterback Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve. With two games to go and zero chance of making the playoffs, there is no reason for Green Bay to jeopardize his long-term health. Aaron Rodgers (vertical)

Rodgers was out for a big chunk of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. With an accelerated rehab program, the quarterback beat out the estimates of many medical professionals and managed to take the field this past weekend against the Panthers. Unfortunately, the 31-24 defeat ended any chance the Packers had at extending their season.

Rodgers is among the game’s best quarterbacks and one of its fiercest competitors. He may be displeased with the team’s decision, but it was the logical call for the Packers to make. Rodgers now has a head start on making a full recovery in advance of next season. The team also removed any possibility that he could aggravate the injury in this season’s final games.

Rodgers’ season ends after just seven games played. Even in that small sample size, Rodgers played like a top quarterback with a 64.7% completion percentage and 16 TDs against six interceptions. With two weeks to go in the regular season, Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the league’s ninth-best QB, ahead of Alex Smith, Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins, and several other notable names. Remarkably, his solid 84.4 overall score is his worst showing since taking over as the Packers’ full-time signal caller in 2008.

This marks the first time that the Packers have missed the playoffs since the 2008 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

QB Rumors: Rodgers, Stanton, Bengals

Mike McCarthy appeared to move closer to the prospect the Packers could shut down Aaron Rodgers for the season’s remainder on Monday. The Green Bay HC said Rodgers was sore and the staff is “working through that” after the all-world quarterback’s re-emergence game against the Panthers, and the coach said he would watch the Falcons-Buccaneers game closely Monday night, per Ryan Wood and Michael Cohen of PackersNews.com. The Falcons are currently leading, and that result holding would end the Packers’ eight-season playoff streak tonight. McCarthy being noncommittal about Rodgers’ status after the Week 15 Green Bay loss, coupled with his Monday-night plans, would indicate a possible consideration of giving Rodgers a longer offseason to fully recover and prepare for 2018.

Here’s the latest from the quarterback position as Week 15 winds down.

  • As for Rodgers’ offseason, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports suggests it would be a good time to lock down Rodgers to a “monster” extension. The quarterback has seen inferior passers usurp him on the salary list in the past few years and would be in position to command a deal close to $30MM annually if he so chose. The salary cap is expected to rise between $174MM and $179MM from this year’s $167MM ceiling. Rodgers’ five-year, $110MM extension came in a year (2013) when the cap rested at $123MM. There are two years remaining on Rodgers’ contract following this season. The 34-year-old passer has no guaranteed money left on his deal, which has cap numbers of just $20.9MM and $21.1MM lined up for 2018 and ’19, respectively.
  • La Canfora also writes the Bengals playing A.J. McCarron instead of Andy Dalton during the final two games would be prudent. McCarron could end up a UFA depending on the outcome of his grievance, which is set for February. As of now, the fourth-year passer is set to be a restricted free agent. However, Marvin Lewis said (via Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer) he plans to keep Dalton in his starting role despite another sub-.500 season being guaranteed. La Canfora writes Dalton, who is attached to a team-friendly contract that runs through 2020 but contains little guaranteed money going forward, could “easily” be traded. McCarron, of course, was nearly traded to the Browns for a second- and third-round pick. The career backup’s attempted just 133 regular-season passes.
  • The Cardinals will be shaking up their quarterback status quo by turning back to Drew Stanton after going with Blaine Gabbert for five games. Bruce Arians (via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, on Twitter) confirmed his initial Carson Palmer contingency plan will take back the reins. This comes after Arians raved about Gabbert’s abilities and with the Cardinals reportedly discussing an extension with the former first-round pick. Stanton started two games for the Cards earlier this season before going down with an injury. Stanton is signed through 2018.
  • Tom Savage‘s scary injury in Week 14 did not immediately result in his removal from that Texans-49ers game, making it a seminal sequence in the NFL’s ongoing concussion crisis. And Bill O’Brien said Monday (per Mark Berman of Fox 26, on Twitter) the fourth-year quarterback may not play again this season. T.J. Yates started in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Jaguars. Savage stands to be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Latest On Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers returned to the field after a notable two-month absence as he recovered from a broken collarbone he suffered against the Vikings in October. However, even with arguably the best quarterback in football, the Packers dropped their seventh game of the season on Sunday afternoon. With the playoffs now seemingly out of reach, it’s reasonable to ask whether the team will continue to risk Rodgers’ health in the final two weeks of the regular season, ponders Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

Aaron Rodgers (Vertical)

Head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t seem all too convicted after today’s loss that he would allow Rodgers to play in Weeks 16 and 17. If the Falcons win on Monday night, the Packers would be eliminated from postseason play and would leave little reason for the coaching staff to risk another injury to their 34-year-old franchise QB.

“Well, let’s focus on today; we lost the game today,” McCarthy said. “We’ll get back and we’ll assess it. We play a game in six days. That’s what we’re focused on.”

Rodgers’ return was not a given after the initial diagnosis was that the veteran signal caller would likely not be able to get back to game action. But after some positive reports on his recovery, the Packers became more hopeful that their star could eventually return and lead them to another playoff berth.

Backup Brett Hundley performed well in stints, but was too inconsistent to leave Green Bay with much room for error in the final three weeks of the season. Although, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope that Rodgers could pull off another miracle as he’s done many times in the past.

“Well, it’s not the fairytale that we were hoping,” Rodgers said about his return. “As I lay in that surgery bed eight weeks ago thinking about this moment, obviously, I saw it going a little differently. But I’m proud of our guys for the way they played the last few weeks. Today, disappointed. I didn’t play very well. Obviously, I hold myself to a high standard. I expected to play well. It’s a good defense but I made too many mistakes. Even still, we had a chance there at the end to come back and tie it.”

Despite the lack of playoff implications, Rodgers seemed as if he would still play unless told otherwise. With that being said, the veteran appeared to still put his status in the hands of the Packers coaching staff.

“Well, I’m a competitor,” Rodgers said. “Until they tell me otherwise, I’m expecting to play.”

Green Bay will take on the Vikings and Lions in the team’s likely final two games of the year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Activate Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers absolutely will return to action on Sunday against the Panthers. The Packers moved their starting quarterback onto their 53-man roster on Saturday, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

To make room, the Packers slashed their quarterback contingent back to two by cutting Joe Callahan. A second-year passer, Callahan resided on Green Bay’s taxi squad before Rodgers’ injury made him the primary backup to Brett Hundley.

Rodgers spent the eight weeks on IR, the NFL-mandated minimum, and earlier this week announced he was medically cleared. The Packers probably aren’t in position to make this move without their overtime victories against the Buccaneers and Browns. The Panthers are likely to see a different version of the Packers, a team picked by some to advance to Super Bowl LII before the season.

Green Bay sits one game behind the No. 6 wild-card spot in a crowded NFC race. And winning out won’t be easy. Although, it would have been next to impossible without Rodgers’ return. The Packers follow their trip to Charlotte with a home game against the Vikings and a trip to Detroit.

The Packers cutting Callahan indicates a degree of confidence in Rodgers’ health. Callahan will have to pass through waivers to make it back to Green Bay’s practice squad, if that is the move the franchise is trying to make. The Division III product has yet to take an NFL snap.

Rodgers was leading the NFL with his 13 touchdown passes at the time he went down early in Week 6. The two-time MVP led the Packers from 4-6 to the NFC championship game last season. He’ll have a chance to potentially do that again, only this year the team will not be gunning for an NFC North title and instead will need wild-card help to reach the postseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers’ Aaron Rodgers Medically Cleared

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been medically cleared in time for Week 15, as Rodgers himself indicated on Instagram. Green Bay hasn’t yet activated Rodgers for Sunday’s game against the Panthers, but that formal transaction will likely be made in the near future.Aaron Rodgers (vertical)

Nearly every report from Green Bay had indicated Rodgers was progressing extremely well in his recovery from a broken collarbone, but his clearance was not a foregone conclusion. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported earlier today, the Packers’ medical staff uses an abundance of caution with respect to injuries, so although Rodgers was pushing to play this weekend, the club wanted to ensure his long-term health.

Now that he has returned, Rodgers not only offers a boost to the Packers’ postseason chances, but reshapes the NFC playoff picture as a whole. Given the strength of the NFC, there’s no guarantee Green Bay will earn a postseason berth even if it wins out to finish with a 10-6 record. But two consecutive victories with backups signal-caller Brett Hundley under center have given the Packers a fighting chance, and Rodgers certainly has the All Pro ability to push Green Bay into the playoffs.

The Packers will face three NFC opponents — the Panthers, Vikings, and Lions — over the next three weeks, and they’ll likely need to win each of those contests in order to secure a playoff slot.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Aaron Rodgers’ Potential Return

Although Aaron Rodgers is eligible to return to action this weekend, there’s no guarantee the longtime Packers quarterback will be on the field when Green Bay faces Carolina in Week 15, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports.Aaron Rodgers (vertical)

Rodgers, who returned to practice this week and underwent a CT scan on Monday, is pushing to return Sunday after recovering from a broken collarbone. The Packers are still in the playoff hunt thanks to two consecutive victories, and Rodgers has now been sidelined for the eight weeks mandated by the NFL’s injured reserve rules. But while everything is in motion for a Rodgers return, Green Bay could still opt not to clear the All Pro signal-caller for Week 15.

Rodgers’ collarbone isn’t fully healed, and while many players are able to function at 80%, the Packers are “notoriously conservative” when it comes to playing injured players, per Rapoport. That cautious nature is enhanced ten-fold when the discussion turns to Rodgers, a franchise icon who is arguably the best player in the NFL. As such, Green Bay’s medical staff is facing a “risk/reward” decision on whether to activate Rodgers for the next three regular season weeks.

For the record, reports of Rodgers’ progress have been nothing but positive. Head coach Mike McCarthy said Rogers had been “slinging it around and throwing with great velocity” while linebacker Clay Matthews indicated Green Bay made a mistake by placing Rodgers on injured reserve in the first place. Rapoport, too, hears that Rodgers has been “seriously impressing” during practice sessions.

Given the strength of the NFC, the Packers could be hard-pressed to earn a postseason berth even if they win out to finish with a 10-6 record. If Rodgers is able to return, he’ll lead Green Bay against the Panthers, Vikings, and Lions over the next three weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Rodgers, Bucs, Eli

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will undergo a CT scan this week to determine if he will be medically cleared to return to game action, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link). Rodgers has been practicing since December 2, and Rapoport says the star quarterback has looked incredible on the field. However, Rodgers’ return will depend on how his surgically-repaired collarbone is healing. Green Bay has been hoping for No. 12 to suit up for next week’s game against Carolina, and there is a very good chance that will happen.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Per Rapoport, the relationship between Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter and quarterback Jameis Winston is not in a good place, and part of that tension stems from Koetter’s predictable play-calling. Indeed, as ESPN’s Jenna Laine tweets, defensive assistants from opposing clubs have said that Tampa Bay’s offense is as predictable as it gets. Koetter, though, could be fired at the end of the season, so the team may not have to deal with that strained relationship much longer.
  • The Giants intend to start Eli Manning not just this week, but going forward as well, per Rapoport (video link). The team’s prior plan to get rookie Davis Webb an extended look is on hold indefinitely, though New York still wants to give him a shot a some point. We also learned earlier today that Dave Gettleman has emerged as the frontrunner for the team’s GM job.
  • The Vikings were among the most vocal of the teams speaking out this week against the perceived inconsistencies in punishments doled out by the league, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. Minnesota safety Andrew Sendejo was suspended for a game earlier this year due to a hit he delivered on Ravens’ wideout Mike Wallace — and that suspension was upheld on appeal — but when Bengals safety George Iloka had his suspension for a similar hit reduced on appeal this week, Vikings officials were quickly on the phone with the league office.
  • Lions head coach Jim Caldwell‘s contract expires at the end of 2018, so his contract status will not impact his future with the team.

NFC North Notes: Packers, Rodgers, Bears

Here’s a look at the NFC North:

  • Packers coach Mike McCarthy says quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks good throwing a football just seven weeks after shoulder surgery (Twitter link via Ryan Wood of the Press-Gazette). “He’s back there slinging it around and throwing with great velocity,” McCarthy said. “The recovery has been impressive.” A Rodgers return could be right around the corner as the team hopes to get him back on the field for Week 15.
  • Packers tight end Lance Kendricks has been charged with marijuana possession stemming from his traffic stop earlier this fall, Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Initially, the 29-year-old believed that he would not face any charges related to the pot that cops found when he was pulled over for speeding. Because there is a drug offense involved, Kendricks could face league discipline for the incident. However, it stands to reason that the NFL will wait for the legal situation to resolve itself before coming down on the tight end. If there’s any suspension to be served, it won’t happen until the 2018 season, at the earliest. So far this year, Kenrdricks has just 11 catches for 151 yards and one touchdown. Last year, he had a career high 50 catches for 499 yards and two TDs with the Rams.
  • The Giants and Browns held key members of the organization accountable for their losing this week. John Mullin of NBC Sports Chicago wonders when the Bears will do the same. Coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace find themselves on the hot seat, but it’s possible that the Bears will give them each one more year to turn things around. The team’s final four games against the Bengals, Lions, Browns, and Vikings obviously won’t have any playoff implications for the Bears, but the results could factor into the futures of both Fox and Pace.
  • The Fritz Pollard Alliance released its list of candidates for coaching and GM jobs this week. Packers exec Alonzo Highsmith is a recommended GM candidate while Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and Vikings DC George Edwards were both offered up as potential head coaches.