As any NFL fan on the planet knows by now, Aaron Rodgers reported to training camp on Tuesday. So, how will this season go for the Packers? Let's examine some of the details and make an educated guess.
When Rodgers first met the press on Wednesday, a reporter asked him what the offseason drama was all about. He took about 30 minutes to explain it all. His honesty was refreshing. He didn't act like he cared much what the Packers' front office thought about it as he laid things out from his perspective. In February, he asked to be allowed more input into who the team kept or let go and proceeded to name about a dozen players by name who he thought were core players and good for the locker room who he thought should have been offered reasonable contracts to stay but were either lowballed or not offered. He didn't really hear anything back from that, so a bit later, he told the Packers that he didn't want to be a lame duck quarterback, and if they were going to make a change, go ahead and do it! They tried to throw money at him in May when they realized he was serious about things, but he told them it was not about money.
Things stayed pretty much the same until the last few days. From what I understand and to get Rodgers into camp, the Packers will void the last year of his contract which is 2023 and not apply any franchise tags to force him to stay. He wants assurances that he will be able to leave, if he desires, after this year, but the Packers and his representatives are still working on that, and no assurances have been given as of this time. Enough progress was made so that Rodgers reported to camp and will almost certainly play this year even if he doesn't have full control of his situation after this year.
In my opinion, none of this would have happened if Rodgers had not been pulled off of the field on 4th down against Tampa Bay while his team settled for a field goal and if the Packers had gone on to win the Super Bowl. The bottom line of it is Rodgers was not happy that Jordan Love got picked as his eventual replacement, and that combined with things not going well against Tampa Bay when the Packers were favored to go to the Super Bowl left Rodgers in a state of mind that SOMETHING had to change. If they had just listened to him and kept one or two of the players he wanted, he must have believed that would have put them over the top.
Meanwhile, GM Brian Gutekunst said that Rodgers deserved a spot at the table to give his opinions and said he has listened to his opinions for a long time in the same way that he has listened to other Packers office personnel. He said when a decision needs to be made on a player, he would take all of the input and that HE would make the decisions. That means not Rodgers, not any other player, but Gutekunst will decide.
So what does all of this mean for the Packers season? Well, Rodgers is going to play, and he says he is committed to play his best for the team he loves. But, is he happy about it? He can't be happy about it. I think unless the Packers win the Super Bowl, he is likely gone after this year. I believe if you are going to win a Super Bowl, everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction. It's hard to win a Super Bowl. Really, really hard. Some have forecasted the Packers to have a record of about 10-7 after winning 13 games each of the last two years. They play all of the teams in the NFC West and AFC North this year. Those are two killer divisions. However, Rodgers is so unbelievably talented that I think they will win 12 or 13 games this year. It wouldn't surprise me if they get to another NFC Championship Game, but it would surprise me if they can get past that given all that has gone on and will be going on. I'm penciling them in for an NFC Championship Game loss... again.
May God always be your number 1 draft pick!