Brian Gutekunst

Latest On Packers, Aaron Rodgers

While the full-on stalemate between the Packers and Aaron Rodgers did not surface until last week, it has simmered throughout the offseason. Rodgers appears to have prepared teammates for his departure before that.

Following the Packers’ Jordan Love pick, Rodgers wondered if his plan of finishing his career in Green Bay was realistic. During the 2020 season, the decorated quarterback informed Packers free agents-to-be he was unlikely to play for the team in 2021, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link).

The Broncos, Raiders and 49ers surfaced last week as acceptable Rodgers destinations, and he is believed to have briefed those teammates of this list of teams, per Garafolo. This did not end up leading to a Packer exodus, however. Longtime Rodgers blindside blocker David Bakhtiari signed a record extension to stay in Green Bay in November, and Aaron Jones agreed to a new deal just ahead of free agency. Of course, money obviously played the central role in these big-ticket deals. But both cornerstone Packers signed despite potentially knowing they could be playing for a team in transition in 2021.

[RELATED: Broncos To Aggressively Pursue Aaron Rodgers?]

Rodgers’ former teammates, however, are split on the notion he will leave. James Jones and John Kuhn do not believe this situation has passed the point of no return. The 37-year-old QB wants the Packers to better position themselves for a Super Bowl, per Jones, who added that Rodgers does not need GM Brian Gutekunst to be fired to return (Twitter link). Kuhn, who has spoken with Rodgers since this impasse became public, said the quarterback’s appreciation for the Packer franchise and his having seen Brett Favre‘s messy exit has caused him to be “conflicted” regarding his own apparent exit strategy, via J.R. Radcliffe of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Favre, on the other hand, sees his ex-backup as entrenched in his position. The future Hall of Famer should not be expected move to mend the rift between he and team management, per Favre, who said during an appearance on ESPN Wisconsin’s Wilde & Tausch (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com) he expects Rodgers to be elsewhere next season. Rodgers sitting out the season would be preferable to his returning to the Packers under unfavorable circumstances, Favre adds. Rodgers has also spoken with Favre since this matter became public, having replied, “I’ll touch base with you after all this is over,” to a Favre text.

The Broncos have emerged as the team most closely connected to the three-time MVP thus far, and prospective trade packages are surfacing. Two first-round picks and a second should be required for the Broncos to land Rodgers, league sources informed Denver7’s Troy Renck, who adds the team would likely need to give up at least one key player in the deal. While Denver now has surpluses at wide receiver and cornerback, with Courtland Sutton set to return from injury and the team loading up at corner this offseason, Renck notes the team will likely fight to keep first-round pick Patrick Surtain II out of a prospective trade offer. Of Denver’s four top corners, Surtain certainly profiles as the highest-value player.

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Packers Say Broncos, 49ers Tampered With Aaron Rodgers

The Packers believe that the 49ers and Broncos have contacted Aaron Rodgers to gauge his interest in playing for them, according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky. That would classify as tampering, though the Packers have not filed a complaint with the league office.

In order to file a successful claim, the Packers would need clear evidence of the illicit contact. Short of that, there isn’t much the Packers could do to bark back at the Broncos, Niners, or any other club that may have chatted with the MVP quarterback. Years ago, the Chiefs were docked draft picks for talking to Jeremy Maclin while he was still a member of the Eagles. But, for the most part, tampering is fairly common in the NFL and rarely punished.

Meanwhile, Rodgers hasn’t been shy about his issues with GM Brian Gutekunst. The QB wants Gutekunst fired and he’s even poked fun at him with friends, according to Bob McGinn of The Athletic. In group text threads, Rodgers has referred to the Packers exec as Jerry Krause – the late Bulls GM who may have prioritized his ego over the continued success of the team.

When the two sides were talking, the Packers offered to make Rodgers the highest-paid QB in the league, according to McGinn. Of course, those numbers don’t mean much in the NFL without guarantees to match, and= Rodgers wants the bulk of his money locked in.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Aaron Rodgers, Packers

The Aaron Rodgers situation does not appear to be losing steam. Attending the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, the Packers quarterback indirectly indicated issues exist between he and Packers management.

After speaking with Rodgers, NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico said the quarterback is “disappointed” news of the rift between he and the Packers’ front office became public (via CBS Sports’ John Breech). Rodgers did not address the situation publicly, though there is little doubt the reigning MVP’s camp has voiced his concerns behind the scenes during draft weekend.

[RELATED: Aaron Rodgers Wants Out Of Green Bay]

A weekend report indicated Rodgers is adamant he will not play for the Packers again under current GM Brian Gutekunst. The fourth-year GM denied that the reigning MVP communicated that to him.

Aaron hasn’t said anything like that to me and certainly hasn’t said anything publicly,” Gutekunst said, via ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky. “I think that’s a little unfair to put that on him. Certainly don’t like to hear those things, but no, nothing’s been communicated directly to me.”

Gutekunst, Matt LaFleur and Packers president Mark Murphy have met with Rodgers in Los Angeles. Those meetings are not believed to have gone well. Green Bay’s surprise first-round selection of Jordan Love, which brought Rodgers’ long-term future with the franchise into question for the first time, has continued to drive a wedge between the quarterback and the front office. One of the sticking points in this drama is Rodgers’ issue with Gutekunst not communicating to him ahead of time intentions to draft Love. Gutekunst also said he could have handled that situation better, via the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore (on Twitter).

Gutekunst said this week he will not trade Rodgers. A Rodgers retirement prospect has since surfaced, which reminds of 2011’s Carson Palmer-Bengals standoff. The Broncos, Raiders and 49ers are believed to be preferred Rodgers trade destinations, should this situation reach that point. San Francisco having traded two future first-round picks for the right to select Trey Lance would seemingly take the team out of the running, even though John Lynch confirmed he reached out to the Packers on the perennial Pro Bowler.

Rodgers-to-Denver rumors gained steam Thursday, and while the Broncos appeared to keep options open at quarterback by passing on Justin Fields and Mac Jones, no serious trade buzz has transpired. This prospective deal, however, remains a possibility, according to 9News’ Mike Klis, though this stalemate may be a ways away from legitimate trade rumors emerging.

For his part, LaFleur said what you might expect him to say when asked about the Rodgers situation. “[Rodgers is] our leader of our team,” LaFlauer said (video link via the team’s official website). “I want nothing more than to see him back in a Packer uniform. In my eyes, he’s the greatest to ever do it. I don’t care about Super Bowls or what not. But we want him back here.”

When asked how he would feel if Rodgers doesn’t have a change of heart about wanting to leave, LaFleur said, “I can’t ever take my brain to that spot right now. I just want to do everything in my power to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

Regardless of what happens on the Rodgers front, Gutekunst said the Packers will add another quarterback before training camp, per Demovsky. Tim Boyle, Rodgers’ backup of the past two years, is now with the Lions. That leaves Love as the only other QB on Green Bay’s roster. The Utah State alum has yet to take a regular-season snap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Aaron Rodgers Won’t Return To Packers Under Current GM?

Aaron Rodgers‘ issues with the Packers have dominated this draft weekend, and the executive who selected Jordan Love last year appears to be in the reigning MVP’s crosshairs.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback wants out of Green Bay and is willing to threaten retirement. A key part of Rodgers’ disenchantment with the Packers: fourth-year GM Brian Gutekunst. Rodgers is adamant he will not return to the Packers as long as Gutekunst is leading the front office, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com reports.

Packers president Mark Murphy is aware of Rodgers’ issues with Gutekunst, Robinson adds. Gutekunst, who succeeded the late Ted Thompson as Packers GM in 2018, rose up from Green Bay’s front office. While Gutekunst has been more active in free agency than his predecessor and was in place when Rodgers signed his current extension in 2018, the Jordan Love pick — made without any consultation with Rodgers — continues to drive a wedge between the 13-year Packers starter and the GM.

Rodgers initially believed Gutekunst sought to move on from him after 2020. The GM has said the team remains committed to Rodgers, though the Love pick has clouded the prospect of Rodgers finishing his career in Green Bay. The veteran said in 2020 he no longer viewed that as realistic and has proceeded this offseason with an uncertain tone about his future in Wisconsin. Unsuccessful meetings between Gutekunst, Murphy and Rodgers escalated to this impasse becoming public Thursday.

The 37-year-old superstar/aspiring Jeopardy! host presented the Packers with an extension proposal this offseason, according to Robinson, that would essentially lock him in for two more seasons. The Packers, however, did not initially want to do anything beyond a restructure. While the team may have become more receptive to a new deal, its year-to-year approach remains in place as of draft weekend.

Rodgers indicated in 2018 he wanted to play into his 40s, which differs from Brett Favre‘s year-to-year timeline in the 2000s. Favre’s successor now would prefer to play past 40 in a different uniform.

If a trade is to occur, it would likely take place beyond June 1. The Packers could spread out Rodgers’ $38.4MM dead-money hit over multiple years that way. The Broncos, Raiders and 49ers reside on Rodgers’ wish list, and although the Rodgers-to-Denver buzz that surfaced Thursday evening appears overblown, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes that scenario is possible — especially after the team passed on Justin Fields at No. 9 overall (video link).

This impasse shows no signs of slowing down, and if Rodgers’ stance remains by the time the Packers report to minicamp in June, the prospect of Love going into training camp as the team’s starter increases.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers GM: “We’re Not Going To Trade Aaron Rodgers”

Aaron Rodgers wants out. Unfortunately for him, the Packers’ GM says the star quarterback isn’t going anywhere. 

No, we’re not going to trade Aaron Rodgers,” Brian Gutekunst told reporters after the first round of the NFL Draft (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport).

Rodgers and the Packers have been negotiating a new deal for months, but Rodgers has been unhappy with the nature of the talks. The Packers are reportedly seeking a restructuring of his deal that would grant them cap relief. Meanwhile, Rodgers is seeking a lucrative long-term extension.

The Broncos, 49ers, and Raiders were reportedly high on the QBs’ wish list, but trade talks were a non-starter for Green Bay. Ultimately, the Niners stuck with the No. 3 pick they traded up for and used it on Trey Lance, but GM John Lynch admitted that he first tried to swing a deal for Rodgers.

“You‘re talking about the MVP of our league last year,” Lynch said (via the San Jose Mercury News). “I don’t know about you guys, but when the MVP of the league might be available — and I didn’t know that, I’m just reading the tea leaves like everybody else and saying, ‘Hold on, is something going on here?’ Yeah, we inquired. And it was a quick end to the conversation. It wasn’t happening.”

As we said, we’ve been convicted and excited for a long, long time, so we went right back to where we’ve been and that’s really excited about adding Trey Lance to the 49ers and we’re thrilled about that.”

Packers GM: Aaron Rodgers Is “Our Guy”

Aaron Rodgers‘ immediate future is not in jeopardy, Packers GM Brian Gutekunst says (Twitter link via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). Despite the lingering contract talks and all the speculation, Gutekunst insists that everything will work out between the quarterback and the front office. 

Aaron’s our guy; he’s going to be our quarterback for the foreseeable future,” Gutekunst said. “We’re excited about the kind of the things we’re going to try to accomplish here over the next couple years. So we certainly think with the contract that you’re kind of talking about is something we’ll work through. We’re going to have to do probably a few things with different contracts as we head toward the season and then through the season to make sure that our salary cap situation, not only this year, but in 2022 is square. So we’re not done yet. We’ve done a lot to get here. We’ve kind of been doing things as we go and we will continue to do that as we go.

The two sides are still “working through” Rodgers’ contract, which has no remaining guarantees. As it stands, the Packers could part ways with Rodgers next year and save ~$25 million against the 2022 cap. That doesn’t sit well with Rodgers, who knows that the Packers project to be top-heavy beyond 2021.

Rodgers, 37, captured his third MVP trophy last year while rookie Jordan Love watched from the sidelines. Thanks to Rodgers and his NFL-leading 48 touchdown passes, the Packers reached the NFC championship game and fell just short of beating the Buccaneers.

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Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

Latest On Packers’ QB Situation, Draft Plan

The person most familiar with the situation in which Aaron Rodgers now finds himself, Brett Favre said his former successor was surprised the Packers traded up for Jordan Love in Round 1. Favre also expects Rodgers to finish his career with another team.

Rodgers has four years remaining on his Packers contract, one agreed to in 2018, and has said on multiple occasions he would like to play into his 40s. The two-time MVP will turn 37 in December.

I’m not going to talk about all that we talked about, but he was … let’s just say surprised that they went in that direction,” Favre said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast (via ESPN.com). “… I think he’ll play somewhere else.

My gut tells me no,” Favre said of Rodgers finishing his career in Green Bay. “I don’t know this for certain, but I guarantee you, it’s got the wheels turning in Aaron’s mind. If that’s the case, then that means there’s a chip on his shoulder toward the organization that otherwise was not there. All he needs is a reason other than this reason to expedite that.”

GM Brian Gutekunst, who was with the Packers as a scout when predecessor Ted Thompson drafted a falling Rodgers at No. 24 overall in 2005, determined Love’s long-term potential was more valuable than picking a player who could help the 2020 Packers, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes.

Gutekunst did not expect Love to fall into the mid-20s and told NBC Sports’ Peter King the Packers had him rated too highly on their board to pass. The Packers had “significant intel” a team with an early-second-round pick was targeting Love, per King. While that may have been the case, no team appeared interested in taking Love late in Round 1.

As a result of this and some surprising choices as the draft progressed, the Packers have the same wide receiver depth chart — excluding UDFAs — they did coming into the virtual event. Rodgers and some other members of the Packers organization were “enamored” with LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson, per Demovsky. Jefferson ended up going to the Vikings at No. 22. And the Packers stunned most by exiting a stacked receiver draft without selecting one.

Gutekunst told King the Packers targeted two receivers in Round 2 and made attempts to trade up with several teams. After both were picked, they ended up selecting running back A.J. Dillon at No. 62. Tee Higgins (Bengals), Michael Pittman Jr. (Colts), Laviska Shenault (Jaguars), K.J. Hamler (Broncos), Chase Claypool (Steelers), Van Jefferson (Rams) and Denzel Mims (Jets) went off the board between Nos. 33 and 59.

The Packers received historically poor production from their pass-catcher group last season. For the first time since 1977, Green Bay had just one player (Davante Adams) record more than 500 receiving yards (excluding the 1982 strike-shortened season).

They don’t draft any weapons — not just in the first round but any weapons that can help immediately, to my knowledge. And that just sends a disrespectful message to Aaron Rodgers,” Favre said. “He has every right to be disappointed if he is.”

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Packers HC, GM On Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love

The Packers caused quite a stir on Thursday night when they traded up to the No. 26 overall pick to select polarizing Utah State QB Jordan Love. Right away, the NFL world was buzzing about what the move means for Aaron Rodgers‘ future and — perhaps just as importantly — how Rodgers would react.

Head coach Matt LaFleur was asked about those issues on Saturday, and as expected, he tried to downplay the drama as much as possible.

“Aaron is a pro, and he’s the leader of our football team, and I anticipate that for a really long time,” LaFleur said (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). “I have so much respect for him not only as a player but the person, and some of the stuff that nobody sees. So I can’t tell you how much I like working with him.”

LaFleur, though, declined to say what he meant by “a really long time.” Rodgers, 36, is under contract through the 2023 season, and while he experienced something of a decrease in production in 2019, he was still effective and continues to look the part of a top-tier signal-caller. He has yet to speak publicly on the Love pick, but given that Green Bay made an aggressive move to select his potential successor and did little to upgrade his cadre of pass catching weapons, you can be sure that he is none too pleased.

Of course, Love is now in a very similar situation to the one that Rodgers was in when A-Rod was selected in the first round of the 2005 draft: a surprise pick who will be groomed behind a curmudgeonly legend with the unenviable task of ultimately replacing said legend. It obviously worked out for Rodgers, but we probably won’t know how it will work out for Love for a couple of years.

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst was also asked about a potential Rodgers-to-Love succession. “The reason that back when we moved from Brett [Favre] to Aaron was because of what Aaron had done his first three years here, and that’s got to happen with Jordan,” Gutekunst said. “He has to be able to do the work and he has to do that for us to make us believe that he can be a starting quarterback in the National Football League. We drafted him in the first round, we certainly think he has that kind of talent. But that’s not enough in the National Football League. You’ve got to work, you’ve got to earn it, you’ve got to become a good enough player.”

Rodgers is scheduled to carry a cap charge of over $39MM in 2022. Although Green Bay would have to absorb a significant dead money hit by releasing him prior to that season, it would also save about $22MM of cap space by doing so. So if Love progresses as the Packers hope, it would not be surprising to see them make the same difficult, but possibly necessary, transition at that time.

“Again, we have one of the best to ever lace them up, and we’re shooting for championships for as long as he’s here, and we expect him to be here for quite a while,” Gutekunst said. His definition of “quite a while,” and LaFleur’s definition of “a long time,” may be about the same: two years.

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Packers Notes: Draft, Williams, Funchess

While this year’s virtual draft will naturally lead to some challenges, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst still expects to be active in trade talks throughout the weekend.

“I don’t think there’s going to be too much of an issue, certainly not from our end,” Gutekunst said (via Curtis Crabtree of ProFootballTalk.com).

“I think we’ll be able to be as aggressive as we need to be. I like to move around. I think it’s a very good draft. I’d like to move around and get to the areas of the draft I think are strong.”

Gutekunst also mentioned that the team would consider moving up in the first round “if we need to.” The Packers highest pick is currently No. 30, which is one of the organization’s 10 selections.

The Packers have been connected to a number of first-round-caliber prospects, including defensive tackle Raekwon Davis. While they’ve been mentioned as a suitor for quarterbacks like Jordan Love, the team isn’t prioritizing the position in the upcoming draft.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Green Bay…

  • Tramon Williams remains a free agent, but it doesn’t sound like the Packers are in any rush to re-sign the veteran cornerback. Gutekunst told reporters that they’ll evaluate Williams’ fit on the roster after the draft. “If that fits once we get through the draft then we’ll certainly make it happen if we can,” Gutekunst said (via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky on Twitter). After spending nearly a decade with the Packers to start his career, Williams returned to Green Bay in 2018. He’s appeared in all 32 regular season games over the past two seasons, including a 2019 campaign where he had eight passes defended and a pair of interceptions.
  • Wide receiver Devin Funchess still hasn’t “completely” passed his physical, Gutekunst told reporters (via Demovsky). “There’s still a portion of it that he’ll have to kind of get through once hopefully this clears up or we’re able find another way to do it,” Gutekunst said. The Packers have already announced the deal, which is a one-year pact worth as much as $6.25MM. After hauling in 63 receptions for 840 yards and eight scores in 2017, the 25-year-old has only collected 54 receptions for 844 yards and nine touchdowns over the past two years (31 games).
  • Gutekunst isn’t particularly worried about any of the technical glitches during the league’s mock draft. “We got a lot of answers,” Gutekunst said (via the team’s website). “That was the big thing, getting through this and finding out the answers how we really want to do this.”