GREEN BAY, Wis. – Even after discussing Aaron Rodgers’ displeasure with the Green Bay Packers with the quarterback directly, Matt LaFleur can’t bring his mind to what might be next.
The Packers head coach is not ready to prepare for a possible future without the three-time MVP quarterback. No, LaFleur is firmly fixed on trying to salvage what has become a rift between the franchise quarterback and his team.
“I know the reports out there,” LaFleur said Saturday night after the NFL draft’s conclusion in his first public comments since Rodgers’ desire to leave the organization was reported. “I mean, this guy is our quarterback, man. He’s the leader of our team, and I want nothing more than to see him back in a Packer uniform.”
But what if Rodgers doesn’t want to be back in a Packers uniform?
“Yeah, I know,” LaFleur said. “And I can’t even take my brain to that spot right now. So I just want to do everything in my power to ensure that doesn’t happen.”
He isn’t the only one within the Packers organization with that mindset.
Since the Rodgers news broke Thursday, the Packers have put on a united, public push to keep their quarterback. General manager Brian Gutekunst has said he’s optimistic Rodgers will play for the Packers again, and no, he isn’t going to trade the MVP. In his monthly column posted to the Packers team website Saturday, CEO Mark Murphy acknowledged the rift with Rodgers has existed for “several months” but that the team is working on resolving the “issue” with its quarterback.
“Brian Gutekunst, Matt LaFleur and I have flown out on a number of occasions to meet with Aaron,” Murphy wrote Saturday. “We are very much aware of Aaron’s concerns and have been working with him (and his agent Dave Dunn) to resolve them.”
Murphy made clear the team has no plans of moving on from Rodgers as its quarterback.
“We remain committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond,” Murphy wrote. “He is not only a tremendously talented player but has developed into a true leader for us. The relationship that Aaron has forged with Matt and the other offensive coaches has propelled us to the brink of the Super Bowl in two straight years. We look forward to competing for another Super Bowl championship with Aaron as our leader.”
Murphy offered a more definitive timeline on the Packers’ commitment to their MVP quarterback than general manager Gutekunst provided earlier this week when he said Rodgers would remain behind center for the “foreseeable future.” With Jordan Love on the Packers’ roster, Murphy made clear he sees Rodgers remaining the team’s quarterback even beyond this coming season.
Rodgers’ unhappiness with the organization leaked Thursday in the hours before the NFL draft’s first round. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Gutekunst made it clear after Thursday night’s first round he would not trade Rodgers. He also said he’s “optimistic” the conflict with Rodgers can be resolved.
“I do think he’ll play for us again,” Gutekunst said. “We’re going to work toward that, and we’ve been working towards that on a number of different fronts. The value that he has for our football team is really immeasurable, you know what I mean? He brings so much to the table, not only as a player but a leader, so important to his teammates, to his coaches. So, yeah, that’s the goal.”
After drafting Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes in the first round Thursday, Gutekunst used his pair of Day 2 picks to select players who could help Rodgers. The Packers drafted Ohio State center Josh Myers with the 62nd overall pick in the second round, and traded up to draft Clemson receiver Amari Rodgers with the 85th overall pick in the third round.
Amari Rodgers said he was aware of the Packers’ ongoing situation with his potential new quarterback and made clear he hopes it’s Aaron Rodgers who throws him passes this season.
“Of course, I want to catch passes from the reigning MVP, future Hall of Famer,” Amari Rodgers said. “So I know for sure. I would love to have the opportunity to play for somebody like him.”