Rodgers, along with Cobb and left tackle David Bakhtiari, took to social media to stump for the Packers to re-sign Matthews.
“BRING HIM BACK,” Rodgers typed over a photo of Matthews.
Against the background of tension that boiled over into a potential boycott of the coming season by Rodgers, and that could still see Rodgers try to get out in 2022, his decision to publicly pressure the Packers’ from office merits close attention. Will G.M. Brian Gutekunst give Rodgers and others what they want? Matthews has been available for more than a year, and there’s been no indication that the Packers have interest in a reunion.
Cut last year by the Rams, Matthews rebuffed interest from the Broncos and made $2 million in guaranteed money to not play. This year, he has no financial reason to pass on an opportunity to play. There has been no indication that any team has attempted to sign him.
The timing of this move by Rodgers makes things potentially more awkward. The front office possibly is (or isn’t) warming to the idea of giving Rodgers a much-deserved seat at the table when it comes to personnel and other matters that typically don’t fall within the job description of player. The decision of the man who recently aired out his grievances regarding Gutekunst’s approach during a press conference has launched an external campaign to bring Matthews back, even if Gutekunst doesn’t think it’s the right move for the franchise.
What Rodgers doesn’t understand (or maybe he does and doesn’t care) is that teams must constantly make hard decisions about who stays and who goes, balancing veterans getting near the end of the road with young players who will develop into the future nucleus of the team. Bringing back Matthews would mean bumping someone else off the roster, and delaying someone else’s development as Matthews gets those snaps.
It’s natural for players to want to play with other players they know, like, and respect. There’s a familiarity, a comfort level. One that makes it easier to develop the proper camaraderie for the current season. The G.M. has to think more broadly. Does the older player’s remaining talent justify the move? From a cap-value standpoint, is it better to give someone younger a chance to develop?
It’s always better to part ways with a player one year too early instead of one year too late. The Packers moved on from Matthews after the 2018 season. There’s a reason they haven’t tried to re-sign him before Rodgers launched his public campaign to “BRING HIM BACK.”
This doesn’t mean the Packers haven’t bungled their relationship with Rodgers. They have. But if Rodgers has any interest in mending fences — and he quite possibly doesn’t — he should stop trying to publicly pressure the front office to sign former players. Instead, he should take it up directly with the front office.