This is quite the Aaron Rodgers-focused exposé coming from behind The Athletic's paywall. I was half-wondering if a lot of the quotes in here were at all recent, or even real in some instances, but turns out...yup! Aaron Rodgers really opened up about just how salty he got about how things ended in Green Bay. Already he feels like the New York Jets — of all teams — have healthier, more open lines of communication than he ever experienced with the Packers.
Rodgers' relationship did improve with GM Brian Gutekunst over time. But uhh...well you can see the initial tweet atop this blog. A little frosty. And even at his opening Jets presser, Rodgers spoke about how this offseason he struggled to touch base with the Packers brass.
Between the Jordan Love draft pick and the circumstances that led to Davante Adams' departure, I can see why Rodgers was a little aloof, distant and passive-aggressive during the past couple offseasons, even as he tried not to burn the bridge with Gutekunst and so forth. He's embracing the change of scenery in New York so far and is attending early workouts, which wasn't his M.O. with his old team of late.
The strained relations based on the selection of Love in the draft is understandable. What was previously unknown as far as I'm aware is the following bombshell about how Rodgers wanted Gutekunst OUT quite a long time ago — or he wanted to be moved via trade:
"According to a source associated with the team who was granted anonymity to candidly discuss the sensitive dynamics between the front office and the star quarterback, early in the 2021 offseason, Dunn, Rodgers’ agent, called Packers president Mark Murphy with a request: Fire Gutekunst or trade Rodgers. Murphy did neither. Months later, news broke that Rodgers wanted out of Green Bay, but the Packers held firm."
Everyone knows the dynamic was tense back then. This is the clearest, most severe-sounding language I've ever heard attributed to it. Would've been such an interesting situation if Rodgers managed to force his way out via trade prior to 2021, fresh off the first of back-to-back MVP campaigns. Love wouldn't have been ready to start, probably would've been a bust, and Rodgers would've flourished elsewhere in all likelihood.
I don't think I understood before, either, how badly the Packers low-balled Davante on his way out of town. Listen to Rodgers light up the GB braintrust about it:
"They offered him less money than Christian Kirk ($18 million per year) and (Adams) is going, ‘Are you serious right now? I’m the best receiver in the league, and you’re gonna offer me less than Christian Kirk? With all due respect, he’s not on Davante’s level.
“I’m sure that the team will say that’s just the business of negotiation — it’s like, yeah, but you’re also sending a message to that guy, and a lot of times it can stick with guys and make them a little sour on things. … That goes back to the first offer that they made, and I don’t think (the Packers) had the foresight — obviously didn’t have the foresight."
A little more background from Rap Sheet at the time of Adams getting traded to the Raiders:
How do you fuck that up so hard? Davante Adams is the epitome of an elite wide receiver, a classy professional and someone you can depend on no matter what the hell is going on. To turn off a guy like that, that hard? Yikes.
I realize that guaranteed money is a difficult workaround in Green Bay since the franchise doesn't have a single billionaire owner and is instead owned by shareholders. Not to mention, Rodgers took on an albatross of a contract that hampered the Packers' efforts to secure Adams on his next long-term deal. STILL…when you have Aaron Freaking Rodgers and Davante Freaking Adams, you figure out a way to keep them together! You don't alienate them to the point where they demand to leave in successive years.
Granted, Rodgers' departure is different, namely for the Jordan Love of the game. He's way older than Adams too. But yeah…things like this with the Jets are happening already between Rodgers and the coaching staff:
Have my doubts that Rodgers was huddling up with Mike Pettine and Joe Barry during the end of his Packers tenure and comparing notes. Can't know for sure without actual Big J Journalism but gonna go with gut-based inference on that one.
Being in the greater NJ/NYC area, I'm hyped that Rodgers is donning the Gang Green jersey. Some of the woo-woo antics he's displayed and testimonials about his self-love and growth didn't appear to help his situation with the Packers much — at least when it came to their front office and, in some cases, their younger, inexperienced players.
By all accounts, so far (words in the headline for a reason as it's barely June), we really look to be getting an engaged, non-standoffish, candid and revitalized version of Aaron Rodgers. For the myriad interests he professes to have beyond the gridiron, Rodgers is an all-time passing talent, a fierce competitor, and is proud to wear a chip on his shoulder. Can't wait to see how he fares with the Jets in 2023, and hopefully beyond. Look how chipper he is. How is this not gonna work!?