Packers GM: Conversations with Aaron Rodgers at Training Camp Have Been 'Excellent'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 2, 2021

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 28: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers walks on the field prior to a game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on August 28, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said Wednesday he's had some "really good conversations" with head coach Matt LaFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers throughout training camp.

After rumored discontent within the Packers franchise was one of the hallmark stories throughout the NFL offseason, Gutekunst is now confident the team is in a good place heading into the 2021 season.

"As we went into this kind of decision-making period, I think everybody—all the people that are kind of involved in that—were very aware of what was going on and why we were doing what we were doing," Gutekunst told reporters. "So, I feel really good about that. And the conversations that I've had with Aaron have been excellent."

In late April, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Rodgers had "told some within the organization that he does not want to return to the team," but Gutekunst took a hard-line stance against the idea of dealing the reigning NFL MVP one day after that report became public.

"We're not going to trade Aaron Rodgers," the Packers GM said.

Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson noted Rodgers was initially "adamant that he won't return to the team under the current stewardship" of Gutekunst.

The sides remained in an extended staredown until the nine-time Pro Bowler and the Packers agreed on a reworked contract that gives him more control over his future just in time for training camp in late July.

Rodgers explained his frustration stemmed from wanting to become more "involved in conversations that affect my ability to do my job."

"I wanted to help the organization, maybe learn from some of the mistakes in the past ... and about the way that some of the outgoing veterans were treated," Rodgers told reporters. "And just the fact that we didn't retain a number of players that I felt like were core players to our foundation, to our locker room. High-character guys."

Green Bay acquired Randall Cobb, one of Rodgers' favorite targets during the wide receiver's prior stint with the team from 2011 through 2018, from the Houston Texans in lockstep with the agreement for the quarterback to return for the 2021 campaign.

So while the Packers were able to avoid trading one of the NFL's best players, it's created a "Last Dance" type feel around the upcoming season. Rodgers said he's still not sure what his future holds beyond this year.

"I'm just going to enjoy this year and then revisit that conversation at the end of the season," he said.

The Packers have one championship during the Rodgers era, the Super Bowl XLV title at the end of the 2010 season, and anything less than another Lombardi Trophy will probably be viewed as a disappointment, especially if this season is the last the quarterback plays for the storied franchise.

Green Bay opens the regular season Sept. 12 when it takes on the New Orleans Saints at the Jacksonville Jaguars' TIAA Bank Field while the city of New Orleans continues to recover from Hurricane Ida.