Almost as soon as Robbie Gould's kick hit the netting at the end of regulation on Saturday night to eliminate the Packers from the playoffs and send the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game, the focus in Green Bay and across the NFL shifted toward Aaron Rodgers and his future in Green Bay.
There's no hiding that Rodgers may have played his last game as a member of the Packers, the team that selected him in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Last year, he nearly struck a divorce with organization, but elected to return for a potential "Last Dance" sort of run that both sides hoped would result in a Super Bowl. However, this early exit now sparks questions about what will be next for the MVP favorite.
"I'm gonna take some time and have conversations with the folks around here, and then take some time away and make a decision -- obviously before free agency." Rodgers said postgame. "... It's fresh right now. It's a little shocking for sure. Was hoping to have a nice week after the NFC Championship to enjoy the lead up [to the Super Bowl] and start contemplating some things, so I haven't even let the moment sink in yet."
Contractually, Rodgers is still under the Packers' control through next season, but if he decides he wants to play elsewhere the team could look to trade him. By moving on from Rodgers -- who has a $46.4 million cap hit in 2022 -- Green Bay would clear roughly $20 million off its salary cap, albeit by moving on from an all-time player.
"Certainly, we want him back here" said head coach Matt LaFleur of Rodgers. "We'd be crazy to not want him back here. He's going to be the two-time MVP. This guy does so much for our football team. Not only what you guys see on Sundays or every game day, but what he does in that locker room and how he leads. I know what he puts into this thing and I'm certainly extremely disappointed that we couldn't get over the hump for not only him, but for everybody in that locker room."
Rodgers noted that he still feels like he can play at an elite level, which does factor into his thought process when mulling potential retirement from the NFL. When asked if he would play for another team, he said: "It's tough to say at this point. ... I don't think it's fair to anybody or myself to really go down those paths at this point."
While Rodgers may not want to make any rash decisions off the heels of a stunning playoff exit, soon enough the rubber will need to meet the road with the quarterback deciding what the next chapter of his NFL career will be.