Embedded in his lengthy people-person’s-paper-people monologue that painted a ridiculously unrealistic picture of life in the NFL, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers came dangerously close to clearly and plainly speaking his mind.
“A lot of this was put in motion last year,” he told a skillfully persistent Kenny Mayne on Monday night’s SportsCenter. “The wrench was just kind of thrown into it when I won the MVP and played the way I played last year. So this is just kind of I think the spill out of all that.”
It doesn’t take much brain power to decipher Rodgers’ meaning here, which qualifies me to do it. (Barely.) Rodgers thinks that, after the Packers surprisingly traded up in the first round of the 2020 draft to select quarterback Jordan Love, the Packers planned to flip the switch from Rodgers to Love after the next season. “The wrench” became Rodgers playing better than ever, becoming the league’s MVP, and forcing the Packers to abandon the plan to make the change.
The Packers now have to keep him, and they know it. He’s the reigning MVP. They can’t trade Rodgers, even if they’ll never get more for him than they’ll get right now. (No NFL MVP has ever played the next season with a new team; two of them — Norm Van Brocklin and Jim Brown — retired.)
Accurate or not, that’s how Rodgers views it. He thinks the front office drafted Love with the plan of moving on in 2021. Rodgers thinks his MVP season forced a re-evaluation of those plans. Rodgers thinks they’ll keep him for one more year, unless he can throw a second wrench in their plans.
Rodgers likely has other wrenches. Will he show up at training camp as skinny as he currently is? (He said he’s lost 15 pounds.) Will he be as prepared as he can be for the season? Or will he mail in the 2021 campaign, biding his time and in turn resulting in his next team giving up much less to get him once the Packers conclude that he indeed has slipped?
There’s much that still needs to be determined. For now, though, it’s safe to say that Rodgers has done nothing to quiet the rumors about his mindset. The only question is whether he’ll accept that the Packers aren’t trading him for 2021, or whether the organization eventually will conclude that it’s in the best interests of the team to get what they can for Rodgers and move on.
Given the reality that he’ll constantly be at odds with the front office all season long, maybe they should.