We are now 10 days away from the start of the 2023 league year, and there is still no clarity on the Aaron Rodgers situation. In February, a report surfaced indicating that the Packers’ entire power structure is “done with Rodgers” and ready to turn the QB reins over to Jordan Love, while a subsequent report suggested that Green Bay would be amenable to a Rodgers return if the 10-time Pro Bowler is “fully bought in.”
Rodgers’ “darkness retreat,” in which he spent a few days in isolation to consider his future, concluded sometime in the middle of February, but at the end of the month, GM Brian Gutekunst said that he had not yet spoken with Rodgers aside from a few text messages (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). And, as Demovsky noted, Gutekunst was noncommittal when asked who his 2023 QB1 will be, which is notable in light of his unequivocally stating in December that he wanted Rodgers back and then deferring to Rodgers’ four MVP honors when asked in January which of his top two passers gives the club the best chance to win.
As of now, the beginning of free agency on March 15 remains the soft deadline for Rodgers to make a decision as to whether he wants to retire, return to the Packers, or be traded, though Gutekunst is still not pushing the franchise icon to clarify his intentions.
Now for more from Titletown:
- In the same piece linked above, Gutekunst is quoted as saying that he has not had any specific trade talks concerning Rodgers. We did hear last month that the Jets had “inquired” on Rodgers’ availability, though technically speaking, such an inquiry may not qualify as “trade talks” if actual compensation was not discussed.
- Also in Demovsky’s piece, Gutekunst reiterated his belief that Love is ready to be a starting quarterback, and as Tyler Dunne of GoLongTD.com (subscription required) writes, many current Packers players believe the same, just as the team knew Rodgers was ready to take up the mantle from Brett Favre in 2008. All of the Rodgers-related reports that have surfaced in 2023 lend credence to the notion that, while Green Bay may be open to one more year with Rodgers at the helm, it may actually prefer to trade him and begin life with Love.
- Moving away from the Packers’ quarterbacks room, free agent-to-be WR Allen Lazard told SiriusXM NFL Radio last month that his agent has had some discussions with team brass about a new contract, but at this point, it sounds as if Lazard will have a chance to test his luck on the open market (audio link). With Davante Adams no longer in the picture, Lazard became more of a focal point of the Green Bay offense in 2022, setting career bests in targets (100), receptions (60), and yards (788). His 60% reception rate was a career low, though Rodgers has said, if he returns to the Packers in 2023, he would want the team to re-sign Lazard.
- Another of Rodgers’ favorite targets, WR Randall Cobb, recently underwent ankle surgery, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Cobb, 32, is out of contract, though if he chooses to play in 2023, he will be able to do so without pain.
- The Packers recently restructured the contracts of a few high-profile players for salary cap purposes. Per Rapoport, cornerback Jaire Alexander and edge defender Preston Smith both agreed to reworked deals that will open up a little more than $16MM of cap space (Twitter link). Demovsky passes along some details (Twitter links), pointing out that the team added a void year (2027) to the back end of both contracts.
- Likewise, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets that the Packers converted roughly $13.8MM of DT Kenny Clark‘s 2023 pay into a signing bonus, thereby opening up a little over $11MM in cap room. Demovsky again offers a complete breakdown of the restructure (via Twitter).