Aaron Rodgers Wants to Win, Not Get Packers GM Gutekunst Fired, James Jones Says

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 6, 2021

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 13: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers runs off the field during the first half against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 13, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Nic Antaya/Getty Images

NFL Network's James Jones came to former teammate Aaron Rodgers' defense, saying the Green Bay Packers quarterback isn't angling to have general manager Brian Gutekunst ousted.

"I speak with Aaron all the time," Jones said Thursday on NFL Network. "It has nothing to do with getting the GM fired. It has nothing to do with a new contract and getting money. ... I think it's fixable."

He added the situation is "all about making sure we have the key guys we need to win championships."

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported shortly before last week's draft that Rodgers had become disgruntled and told some within the organization he wanted out.

Gutekunst quickly emerged as a major player in the story.

ProFootballTalk @ProFootballTalk

As @JayGlazer said, the contract is part of the reason for Rodgers’ discontent. I’m told he “doesn’t like anyone in the front office for a variety of reasons.”

Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson reported last Saturday that Rodgers "remains adamant that he won’t return to the team under the current stewardship" of Gutekunst. Robinson also spoke to a source who implied the reigning MVP might be amenable to returning if the general manager is gone.

Bob McGinn of The Athletic detailed more of the dynamic and wrote how Rodgers "appears to have a lengthy list of grievances" regarding Gutekunst:

"According to sources, Rodgers has mocked Gutekunst in group chats with his teammates in Green Bay by referring to the GM as Jerry Krause. The late Krause, the general manager of the Chicago Bulls during their run of six NBA championships, was loathed by Michael Jordan for some personnel moves with which Jordan disagreed.
"The Packers are well aware of Rodgers’ hard feelings toward Gutekunst but, at this point, are taking the high road insisting their sole focus is having Rodgers as their quarterback in 2021 and beyond."

Michael Jordan clearly didn't like Jerry Krause, and maybe he didn't respect him all that much, either. But the two coexisted long enough for the Chicago Bulls to build a dynasty, and they were both the best at their respective jobs. 

While a longtime member of the organization, Gutekunst hasn't yet build that kind of credibility in his current role after having succeeded Ted Thompson in January 2018. The Packers missed the playoffs in 2018 before back-to-back 13-win seasons ended in trips to the NFC title game.

Because of that, many fans are likely to side with Rodgers in any perceived conflict. The 37-year-old is a future Hall of Fame quarterback who has carried the franchise despite what many believed to be a poor structure around him.

But even the Bulls weren't afraid to basically side with Krause in the end as he outlasted both Jordan and Phil Jackson in the Windy City. In addition, the Packers didn't hesitate to jettison another future Hall of Famer when the time came to pass the torch to Rodgers from Brett Favre in 2008.

Whether or not Rodgers intended for it to happen, this is quickly becoming a battle between the biggest star on the team and the most important member of the front office. With Jordan Love, Gutekunst's first-round pick last year, waiting in the wings, Green Bay might inevitably have to choose sides.