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Aaron Rodgers Says 'It's Championship or Disappointment' for Packers' 2021 Season

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 27, 2021

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn't shying away from the sky-high expectations that surround what could be his final season with the organization.

"They jumped through some hoops to get under the cap this year," Rodgers told reporters Thursday. "Obviously, the cap is expected to go back up next year, but you never know. So we're just going to enjoy this season. It's Title Town. It's championship or disappointment."

The 37-year-old reigning NFL MVP spent most of the offseason involved in the rumor mill. The speculation ranged from a potential trade or retirement to becoming the next full-time host of Jeopardy! after he was one of the guest stars following the death of Alex Trebek.

In the end, he reached an agreement with the Packers on a reworked contract that gave the front office an estimated $10 million more salary-cap space for 2021 but voided the 2023 part of the deal and created a path to either leave or receive a new contract in 2022 because of an untenable $46.1 million cap hit for next year, per ESPN's Rob Demovsky.

The situation has created a "Last Dance" feel around Green Bay's season, which was further heightened by a trade for wide receiver Randall Cobb, who previously played for the team from 2011 through 2018, and the veterans urging the front office to also bring back linebacker Clay Matthews, a six-time Pro Bowler who last played in 2019.

Rodgers explained Thursday the lack of certainty about 2022 and beyond makes this season even more important for the Packers' core.

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"I think we all know what's at stake," he told reporters. "I talked about that a little bit the other day about perspective and how important that perspective is to focus on this season and enjoy the most out of this season, because there are a lot of unknowns."

Green Bay enters the campaign as one of the top contenders in the NFC behind the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so a title-or-bust narrative isn't unrealistic.

While there aren't many concerns about the Rodgers'-led offense, the defense must step up in order to make a championship run. The unit ranked 13th in points allowed per game (23.1) during the 2020 regular season and allowed 31 points in a playoff loss to the Bucs.

Even modest improvement on that side of the ball could be enough to put the Packers on a path toward their second Super Bowl title of the Rodgers era. The first came at the end of the 2010 season.

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