There is reportedly a renewed sense of optimism across the NFL that quarterback Aaron Rodgers could report to the Green Bay Packers by the start of training camp.
Appearing Thursday on SportsCenter, ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler said there is a "slightly growing sense" among some within the league that Rodgers will eventually rejoin the Packers.
Fowler noted that he spoke to as many as 12 people involved with different teams, and more than half of them feel Rodgers will return to the Packers because of his competitive nature and the fact that he has few other options if he wants to play in 2021.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported in April that Rodgers told some within the Packers organization that he no longer wanted to play in Green Bay.
He subsequently skipped mandatory minicamp and gave the following explanation for his issues with the Packers during an appearance on SportsCenter (h/t ESPN' Rob Demovsky):
"With my situation, look it's never been about the draft pick, picking Jordan [Love]. I love Jordan; he's a great kid. [We've had] a lot of fun to work together. Love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay. An incredible 16 years. It's just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting that it is about the people that make the thing go. It's about character, it's about culture, it's about doing things the right way."
The Packers selected Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft without telling Rodgers about it first, and the lack of communication may have been the start of the downward spiral with regard to the relationship between Rodgers and the Packers.
While Rodgers hasn't indicated publicly that he has any plans to join the Packers for training camp, the Packers have made it clear they aren't going to trade him, meaning playing for the Packers this season may be Rodgers' only option unless he wants to sit the year out.
Also, skipping training camp would result in hefty fines for Rodgers, which is something he may want to avoid.
The Packers have no obligation to trade Rodgers since he is under contract through 2023. Because of that, they have the leverage to wait it out until Rodgers either returns or retires.
Fowler said he spoke to someone who used to work for the Packers who believes Rodgers is "in a better mental place" and "seems happy" compared to earlier in the offseason.
Still, Fowler noted that Rodgers and the Packers are in the "nothing phase" in terms of no new developments coming to pass.
Rodgers, 37, is coming off one of the best seasons of his Hall of Fame career. He completed 70.7 percent of his passes for 4,299 yards, 48 touchdowns and five interceptions en route to winning his third career NFL MVP award.
He also led the Packers to 13-3 records and berths in the NFC Championship Game in each of the past two seasons, underscoring how close Green Bay is to reaching the Super Bowl.
With a second career Super Bowl championship within reach and no indication that the Packers are willing to trade him, perhaps there is hope for the two sides to come to an understanding and reunite before the 2021 season.