Matt LaFleur: Packers Want Aaron Rodgers Back 'in the Worst Way' amid Trade Rumors

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 14, 2021

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) walks off the field after the NFC championship NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. The Buccaneers defeated the Packers 31-26 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur isn't hiding his desire for Aaron Rodgers to be his quarterback in 2021.

According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, LaFleur said Friday: "We still obviously feel the same way. We want him back in the worst way. I know he knows that. And we'll continue to work at it each and every day."

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported last month that Rodgers told some within the Packers organization that he no longer wants to play in Green Bay because of multiple issues, including the selection of quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft without consulting Rodgers.

It comes as little surprise that LaFleur is desperate to have Rodgers back in the fold given the success they have experienced together.

The quarterback-coach combo has gone 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship Game in each of their two seasons together. While they have fallen just short of the Super Bowl twice, they seemed to be building momentum toward playing in the big game.

Additionally, Rodgers enjoyed arguably the best statistical season of his career in 2020 at the age of 37.

He was named NFL MVP for the third time in his career after completing a career-best 70.7 percent of his passes for 4,299 yards, a league-best 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions. It also represented a huge step up from 2019 when Rodgers completed 62.0 percent of his attempts for 4,002 yards, 26 touchdowns and four picks.

While Rodgers was still an efficient and effective quarterback, he had gone three straight seasons without throwing more than 26 touchdowns in a year entering 2020.

It seemed as though his decline had started, which is why the Packers traded up in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft to take Love. In many ways, it was reminiscent of when the Packers took Rodgers in the first round of the 2005 draft despite still having Brett Favre on the roster.

Rodgers sat behind Favre for three years before finally taking the reins and becoming one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history in his own right. Love did not take a single snap last season.

The Packers clearly think highly of Love if they were willing to take him in the first round last year rather than appeasing Rodgers by drafting a receiver, but there will likely be some growing pains if he is thrust into the starting role in 2021.

That would be a tough situation for LaFleur and Packers fans since they came so close to reaching the Super Bowl in each of the past two seasons.

Packers president Mark Murphy wrote earlier this month that he is aware of Rodgers' concerns, and that he, LaFleur and general manager Brian Gutekunst had met with him on multiple occasions in an effort to come to a resolution.

Murphy added that the Packers are committed to Rodgers in 2021 and beyond, but if Rodgers is either able to force a trade or simply decides to sit out, the team's fate will rest in the hands of a quarterback who has never taken an NFL regular-season snap.