Aaron Rodgers is optimistic about the Green Bay Packers' outlook for the 2021 season coming off a drama-filled offseason.
Speaking to reporters about the start of the regular season, Rodgers opened up about his expectations for the team:
"I think we don't feel pressure. ... I'm speaking personally, and I can't speak for everybody. But the feel that I get with the energy in the locker room is not pressure. It's focus. I think it's the right perspective and the right type of focus.
"We know we have a talented team. We know what the expectations are. We're just focusing on accountability and holding each other accountable because regardless of what happens with any of our situations, this group will not be together the way it is now in years down the line."
Rodgers' comments come on the heels of an offseason in which it wasn't totally clear if he would even be on the field for the Packers this year.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported prior to the first round of the NFL draft on April 29 that Rodgers told some people with the Packers that he didn't want to return to the team because of frustration with people in the organization.
The main source of Rodgers' scorn seemed to be general manager Brian Gutekunst.
Per Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, Rodgers was prepared to sit out offseason activities and "possibly retirement" if the Packers didn't fire Gutekunst.
During his first press conference of the season on July 28, the three-time NFL MVP said he did consider retiring.
"Yeah, it was definitely something I thought about," Rodgers said. "I talked about how important being a full-timer was for a long time. This is a first time to spend the offseason away without a COVID year or a lockout year, and I enjoyed it. I really did."
Rodgers also acknowledged frustration at feeling like his opinion wasn't being taken into consideration by the front office.
"I think we can all understand Green Bay isn't a huge vacation destination," he told reporters. "People are coming here to play with me, to play with our team and knowing that they can win a championship here and the fact that I haven't been used in those discussions is what I wanted to change moving forward."
Things ultimately worked out between Rodgers and the Packers for this season. The two sides agreed to rework his contract, including knocking one year off the deal to make him eligible for free agency after next season instead of 2023.
Despite the long-term uncertainty of this partnership, Rodgers and the Packers are expecting big things in 2021. The team had the best record in the NFC last season (13-3) and reached the conference championship game for the second successive year.
Rodgers won his third NFL MVP award in 2020 after leading the league with a 70.7 completion percentage and 48 touchdown passes.
The Packers will open this season against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.