Packers GM: 'I Hope Everybody on Our Team' Is Excited About Amari Rodgers Pick

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2021

Clemson's Amari Rodgers (3) warms up before an NCAA college football game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)
Chris Seward/Associated Press

Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst sidestepped the narrative the team's selection of Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers in the third round of the 2021 NFL draft was a peace offering to quarterback Aaron Rodgers amid rumors he's seeking a trade.

"I hope everybody on our team and within our building is excited about adding Amari," Gutekunst told reporters Friday. "I think it was something we wanted to add—we've wanted to add for a few years—that guy that can play inside and do some returning. So yeah, I hope everybody's pleased with it."

Before Love, the Packers hadn't selected an offensive player in the first round of the draft since offensive tackle Derek Sherrod in 2011. They haven't taken a skill-position player on that side of the ball in Round 1 since wide receiver Javon Walker in 2002, three years before Aaron Rodgers was drafted.

Yet despite the consistent investment of high draft picks on the defensive side, the 2020 season marked the first time since 2010 they ranked inside the top 10 in total defense.

In short: the Packers haven't provided Rodgers with regular upgrades to the playmaking group around him, he's still been forced to shoulder most of the responsibility for the team's success, and they drafted his potential heir apparent last year out of the blue.

So perhaps it shouldn't have come as a shock when ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Thursday that Rodgers had "told some within the organization that he does not want to return to the team." The Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers checked in on his availability but were turned away.

"We're not going to trade Aaron Rodgers," Gutekunst said Thursday after the initial reports.

The reigning NFL MVP is under contract through 2023 as part of a four-year, $134 million deal.

Meanwhile, his wide receiver namesake out of Clemson will provide a multifaceted weapon for the offense in 2021. Amari Rodgers said he's hopeful the nine-time Pro Bowl selection ultimately stays in Green Bay.

"Of course I want to catch passes from the reigning MVP, future Hall of Famer," Rodgers said. "So I know for sure I would love to have the opportunity to play for somebody like him on the field and also Davante, too, so I'm looking forward to that. We've got the same last name, so of course that's pretty cool that we have the same last name. He's an amazing quarterback. I've been watching him my whole life. It's actually amazing and surreal that I get the opportunity to play with a quarterback like him."

He's likely ticketed for the No. 4 wideout role behind Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling as a rookie while also making an impact on special teams.

Exactly how dynamic the Packers' offense will be is completely dependent on whether Aaron Rodgers is leading it when Week 1 kicks off, though.