Packers Rumors

Browns Won’t Pursue Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers wants out and plenty of teams figure to chase the Packers star. However, the Browns won’t be among them, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer (Twitter link).

Some have speculated that the Browns could upgrade from Baker Mayfield to the reigning MVP. That won’t be happening, because the Browns are “ecstatic” about Mayfield’s progress in 2020, which culminated in their first playoff win since the ’99 reboot. Meanwhile, the Packers see Jordan Love as their future solution under center, which means Mayfield wouldn’t make much sense for them.

The Packers star looked as sharp as ever last year, but the Browns prefer the long-term upside of their 26-year-old passer to the 37-year-old. Meanwhile, Rodgers is looking for a multi-year pact to reflect his most recent performance. The Browns were happy to exercise Mayfield’s option worth $18.858MM for 2022. Beyond that, the Browns will be willing to furnish Mayfield with $30MM-$35MM per annum if he stays on course. And, no matter where Rodgers lands, he’ll want something in the neighborhood of Dak Prescott‘s $40MM/year deal.

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Packers OL Yosh Nijman Signs ERFA Tender

Yosuah Nijman is heading back to Green Bay. The offensive tackle has signed his exclusive rights free agent tender, reports ESPN’s Rob Demovsky (via Twitter).

The ERFA tender is a non-guaranteed, one-year deal worth $780K, which is the league minimum for a player with one season of experience.

The Virginia Tech product went undrafted during the 2019 draft, but he quickly caught on with the Packers. He spent time on the practice squad and active roster during his rookie season, but he didn’t see the field for a regular-season game. The lineman managed to get into all 16 games in 2020, although most of his playing time came on special teams; Nijman was limited to only 14 offensive snaps last season.

The 25-year-old has a chance to take on a larger role in 2021. As Demovsky notes, Nijman could be called upon to start in place of David Bakhtiari, who’s been named to an All-Pro team in each of the past five seasons. The veteran’s 2020 season was cut short by a torn ACL, but Bakhtiari is apparently ahead of schedule and could even be ready for the start of next season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

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Broncos To Aggressively Pursue Aaron Rodgers?

Speculation that the Broncos could push to acquire Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers began to swirl in advance of last week’s draft, though Ian Rapoport of NFL.com indicated that such chatter was overblown. However, subsequent reports suggested that a Rodgers-to-Denver deal could still happen, and those rumors are not going away.

The feeling around the league is that Rodgers will not return to the Packers, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini (video link). Russini adds that Packers brass is “deflated” about the direction this is heading. The team has continued to try and put a good face on the situation and insists that Rodgers will be back in Green Bay in 2021, but that feels like a dubious proposition at this point. And if the Packers ultimately cave and deal the three-time MVP, Russini hears that the Broncos will be the most interested and will present Green Bay with the strongest offer.

Although the Broncos recently acquired Teddy Bridgewater in a trade with the Panthers and are rostering 2019 second-rounder Drew Lock, it’s hard to imagine either player piloting a championship club. The rest of the roster, though, looks strong, and adding Rodgers would immediately make Denver a threat to win the AFC, just like Peyton Manning did nine years ago. So it’s easy to envision GM George Paton doing everything in his power to make that happen.

One way or another, Russini confirms that if a trade is consummated, it will not take place until after June 1, due to the salary cap ramifications. Of course, in addition to those cap concerns and negotiating the best possible deal with the Broncos or any other club, the Packers must also consider their own on-field product. After all, they came devastatingly close to winning the NFC last year, and they will return much of that successful roster in 2021. So will the team be comfortable passing the baton to Jordan Love, the 2020 first-rounder who is at the epicenter of the Rodgers-Packers rift?

Maybe not. Albert Breer of SI.com gets the sense that Green Bay does not necessarily believe Love — who was always considered a developmental prospect — is ready to take the reins. It’s unlikely that there will be any starting-caliber QB options on the free agent or trade markets, so assuming Love is truly not prepared, the Packers will really be in a bind if they can’t mend fences with Rodgers.

In addition to the Love issue, there are other factors contributing to this Spring of Rodgers’ Discontent, one of which is rather surprising. Rapoport says that the “death knell” of the relationship was when the team cut WR Jake Kumerow last September, right after Rodgers publicly referred to him as one of the team’s most reliable receivers (video link). Though Kumerow became something of a cult hero during his time in Green Bay, it would be odd for his release to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, but such is the enigma of Rodgers. For what it’s worth, Kumerow ultimately appeared in six games in 2020, all with the Bills. He recorded one catch for 22 yards.

Rapoport also confirms that Rodgers was hoping for an extension that would cement his status as the Packers’ starter until he chooses to retire, and that he wants a say in personnel decisions. Veteran NFL reporter John Clayton says that the team’s overall approach to the wide receiver position (and not just Kumerow’s apparently calamitous release) has also played a major role in the impasse. Although GM Brian Gutekunst has only been the team’s top decision-maker since 2018, Green Bay’s first choice in each of the last 10 drafts was used on a defensive player, and Rodgers’ frustration has reached the breaking point.

Former NFL agent Joel Corry offers a two-pronged approach by which the Packers might placate Rodgers. The first step, Corry says, would be trading Love, and the second would be giving Rodgers the extension he wants. Rodgers has three years remaining on his current contract, and while it’s exceedingly rare for a team to authorize an extension for a player who is still under club control for three seasons, the Cardinals did provide a blueprint for such a maneuver when they extended DeAndre Hopkins last year.

As Corry notes, Rodgers will want to top Patrick Mahomes‘ record $45MM AAV, and that would mean adding $90MM of new money over a five-year term (the three years on his current deal plus a two-year extension). Ultimately, though, Corry doesn’t believe the Packers will go that route, because he does not believe the team wants to deviate from its original plan of having Love succeed Rodgers when the time is right. Unfortunately for Green Bay, Rodgers might be forcing the team to throw Love into the fire before he’s ready.

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Packers Sign 7 UDFAs

The Packers have added on to their rookie class. The team agreed to terms with seven undrafted free agents today (per the team’s website):

Dietzen will surely be a fan favorite in camp, as the offensive lineman grew up in nearby Black Creek, Wisconsin. Dietzen actually retired from football after the 2018 campaign, but he returned this past season and started all seven games for Wisconsin, including time at left guard, right guard, and left tackle.

Some scouts expected Uphoff to a be a fourth- or fifth-round pick (per The Athletic’s Bob McGinn), but he ended up falling off the board entirely. The Illinois State product had a standout season, but he suffered a hamstring injury that ultimately put a damper on his pro day. However, the prospect isn’t letting the draft process ruin his hopes of reaching the NFL.

“It happened,” Uphoff said of his workout (via McGinn). “If I would have had better numbers, I’m sure I would have been drafted. You’ve got to deal with it.”

As The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman tweets, these signings take the Packers to 88 players, leaving room for two more additions. The reporter believes the organization could use both of those spots on quarterbacks, whether it be rookies or veterans.

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.

2021 NFL Draft Results By Round

The 2021 NFL Draft is here! We’ll be keeping tabs here, from pick No. 1 through No. 259:

Round 1

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB (Clemson)
2) New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB (BYU)
3) San Francisco 49ers (from Texans via Dolphins): Trey Lance, QB (North Dakota State)
4) Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE (Florida)
5) Cincinnati Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase, WR (LSU)
6) Miami Dolphins (from Eagles): Jaylen Waddle, WR (Alabama)
7) Detroit Lions: Penei Sewell, OT (Oregon)
8) Carolina Panthers: Jaycee Horn, CB (South Carolina)
9) Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB (Alabama)
10) Philadelphia Eagles (from Cowboys): DeVonta Smith, WR (Alabama)
11) Chicago Bears (from Giants): Justin Fields, QB (Ohio State)
12) Dallas Cowboys (from 49ers via Dolphins via Eagles): Micah Parsons, LB (Penn State)
13) Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT (Northwestern)
14) New York Jets (from Vikings): Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL (USC)
15) New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB (Alabama)
16) Arizona Cardinals: Zaven Collins, LB (Tulsa)
17) Las Vegas Raiders: Alex Leatherwood, OL (Alabama)
18) Miami Dolphins: Jaelan Phillips, DL (Miami)
19) Washington Football Team: Jamin Davis, LB (Kentucky)
20) New York Giants (from Bears): Kadarius Toney, WR (Florida)
21) Indianapolis Colts: Kwity Paye, DL (Michigan)
22) Tennessee Titans: Caleb Farley, CB (Virginia Tech)
23) Minnesota Vikings (from Seahawks via Jets): Christian Darrisaw, OT (Virginia Tech)
24) Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB (Alabama)
25) Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Travis Etienne, RB (Clemson)
26) Cleveland Browns: Greg Newsome II, CB (Northwestern)
27) Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, WR (Minnes0ta)
28) New Orleans Saints: Payton Turner, DE (Houston)
29) Green Bay Packers: Eric Stokes, CB (Georgia)
30) Buffalo Bills: Gregory Rousseau, DL (Miami)
31) Baltimore Ravens (from Chiefs): Jayson Oweh, DE (Penn State)
32) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joe Tryon, LB (Washington)

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2021 NFL Draft Results: Team By Team

The 2021 NFL Draft has arrived! As the picks come in, we’ll keep track of each team’s haul right here:

[RELATED: 2021 NFL Draft Order By Round]

Arizona Cardinals

Round 1: No. 16 Zaven Collins, LB (Tulsa)
Round 2: No. 49 Rondale Moore, WR (Purdue)
Round 4: No. 136 (from Ravens) Marco Wilson, CB (Florida)
Round 6: No. 210 (from Ravens) Victor Dimukeje, LB (Duke)
Round 6: No. 223 (from Vikings) Tay Gowan, CB (Central Florida)
Round 7: No. 243 James Wiggins, S (Cincinnati)
Round 7: No. 247 (from Bears through Raiders) Michal Menet, C (Penn State)

Atlanta Falcons

Round 1: No. 4 Kyle Pitts, TE (Florida)
Round 2: No. 40 (from Broncos) S Richie Grant (Central Florida)
Round 3: No. 68 Jalen Mayfield, OT (Michigan)
Round 4: No. 108: Darren Hall, CB (SDSU)
Round 4: No. 114 (from Broncos) Drew Dalman, C (Stanford)
Round 5: No. 148 Ta’Quon Graham, DT (Texas)
Round 5: No. 182 Adetokunbo Ogundeji, DE (Notre Dame)
Round 5: No. 183 Avery Williams, CB (Boise State)
Round 6: No. 187 Frank Darby, WR (Arizona State)

Baltimore Ravens

Round 1: No. 27 Rashod Bateman, WR (Minnes0ta)
Round 1: No. 31 (from Chiefs) Jayson Oweh, DE (Penn State)
Round 3: No. 94 (from Chiefs) Ben Cleveland, G (Georgia)
Round 3: No. 104 Brandon Stephens, CB (SMU)
Round 4: No. 131 Tylan Wallace, WR (Oklahoma State)
Round 5: No. 160 (from Cardinals) Shaun Wade, CB (Ohio State)
Round 5: No. 171 Daelin Hayes, LB (Notre Dame)
Round 5: No. 184 Ben Mason, FB (Michigan)

Buffalo Bills

Round 1: No. 30 Gregory Rousseau, DL (Miami)
Round 2: No. 61 Carlos Basham Jr., DE (Wake Forest)
Round 3: No. 93 Spencer Brown, OT (Northern Iowa)
Round 5: No. 161 (from Raiders) Tommy Doyle, OT (Miami (Ohio))
Round 6: No. 203 Marquez Stevenson, WR (Houston)
Round 6: No. 212 (from Saints via Texans) Damar Hamlin, S (Pittsburgh)
Round 6: No. 213 Rachad Wildgoose, CB (Wisconsin)
Round 7: No. 236 (from Panthers) Jack Anderson, G (Texas Tech)

Carolina Panthers

Round 1: No. 8 Jaycee Horn, CB (South Carolina)
Round 2: No. 59 (from Browns) Terrace Marshall Jr., WR (LSU)
Round 3: No. 70 (from Eagles) Brady Christensen, OT (BYU)
Round 3: No. 83 (from Bears) Tommy Tremble, TE (Notre Dame)
Round 4: No. 113 Chuba Hubbard, RB (Oklahoma State) (signed)
Round 5: No. 158 Daviyon Nixon, DT (Iowa)
Round 5: No. 166 (from Titans) Keith Taylor, CB (Washington)
Round 6: No. 204 (from Bears) Shi Smith, WR (South Carolina)
Round 6: No. 222 Thomas Fletcher, LS (Alabama)
Round 7: No. 232 (from Titans) Phil Hoskins, DT (Kentucky)

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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.