Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning said he's hopeful the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers, who's become the focus of trade rumors in recent weeks, can work out a resolution.
"When I think of Aaron, I think of him as a Green Bay Packer," Manning told TMZ Sports in an interview released Thursday. "Hopefully they can get it worked out."
He added: "He's done such a great job there in Green Bay."
ESPN's Adam Schefter jump-started the Rodgers rumor mill in late April when he reported the quarterback had "told some within the organization that he does not want to return to the team."
While the three-time MVP hasn't addressed the situation publicly, the Packers' brass has made it clear they want to move forward with Rodgers still under center:
- Team president Mark Murphy: "We remain committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond. 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 [LaFleur] 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."
- General manager Brian Gutekunst: "We're not going to trade Aaron Rodgers."
- Head coach Matt LaFleur: "I can't fathom [him] not being in Green Bay. That's where my mind's at. I don't only love the player, but I love the person. I love working with him on a daily basis; I think we all do—from the players in that locker room to the coaching staff. Again, I don't even want to let my mind go there."
Rodgers' discontent is weighted mostly toward Gutekunst, who drafted fellow quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 draft without informing Rodgers of the team's plans. "Reconciliation may not be possible" if there isn't a GM change in Green Bay, per Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson.
The 37-year-old Rodgers doesn't have a ton of short-term leverage to force a trade, though. He's under contract through 2023 as part of a four-year, $134 million deal.
Green Bay also added veterans Blake Bortles and Kurt Benkert to provide depth behind Love should Rodgers opt to embark on an extended holdout as part of refusing to report to the Packers for the 2021 season.
Manning, who retired after the 2015 season and was selected as a first-ballot Hall of Famer in February, went through a team change late in his own playing career, though it was a more natural transition as the Colts selected Andrew Luck with the first overall pick in the 2012 draft after Manning had missed the entire 2011 campaign with a neck injury.
It worked out for him in the end as he finished his career by helping lead the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl 50 title with a large assist from the team's dominant defense.
Similarly, Rodgers would transform any team he's traded to into an instant championship contender if he's ultimately dealt before the 2021 campaign kicks off in September.