After nearly a month of evading the media, Aaron Rodgers was finally put on the hot seat Monday night. During an interview with ESPN's Kenny Mayne, not only was the Packers quarterback asked about all the drama in Green Bay, but the reigning NFL MVP was also asked directly if he demanded a trade this offseason.
Rodgers turned the NFL world upside down back on April 29 when it was reported that he wanted out of Green Bay. Although Rodgers hasn't done a single football-related interview since then, the Packers quarterback decided to go on ESPN on Monday to help celebrate the fact that Mayne was hosting his final episode of SportsCenter after spending 27 years at the all-sports network.
After the two exchanged some pleasantries, Mayne cut to the chase and asked Rodgers one simple question, "Are you demanding a trade?"
Here's how Rodgers responded to that question, and as you'll notice, he definitely didn't shoot down any of the trade speculation.
"With my situation, look, it's never been about the draft pick, picking Jordan [Love]," the reigning NFL MVP said. "I love Jordan, he's a great kid. A lot of fun to work together. I love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay. It's been an incredible 16 years."
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Although Rodgers seems to "love" a lot about playing for the Packers, one group he noticeably didn't compliment is the Packers front office, which probably shouldn't come as a huge surprise, because the quarterback's beef with the team seems to be with the front office.
Over the past month, it's become pretty clear that Rodgers doesn't care too much for Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst. In a report from April 29, Pro Football Talk noted that Rodgers "doesn't like anyone in the front office." More recently, Yahoo Sports reported on May 1 that Rodgers isn't going to return to the team as long as Gutekunst is in charge.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has also reported that Rodgers isn't a fan of Russ Ball, the Packers' Executive Vice President/ Director of Football Operations.
Although the team has been working on fixing things with their starting quarterback -- they've even made several trips to visit him this offseason -- it's become pretty clear that nothing is going to get resolved unless they trade Rodgers or dump Gutekunst. If the Packers are unwilling to trade their star QB, NFL Media reported in early May that Rodgers would consider retirement unless things are "repaired to his liking." As of right now, removing Gutekunst as general manager seems like the one thing that would repair the situation to "his liking."
During his interview with Mayne, Rodgers didn't go into specific details about why he's unhappy, but he did say that the rift was "put in motion" last year.
"It's just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting it is about the people that make the thing go. It's about character. It's about culture. It's about doing the things the right way," Rodgers said. "A lot this was put in motion last year. The wrench was just kind of throw into it when I won MVP and played the way I played last year. This is just kind of the spill out of all that. But, look, it's about the people and that's the most important thing. Green Bay has always been about the people."
Rodgers spent a good part of the interview emphasizing the fact that the Packers organization is one that was built by the people.
"Culture is built brick-by-brick, the foundation of it by the people," Rodgers said. "Not by the organization. Not by the building. Not by the corporation. It's built by the people."
Basically, it seems like Rodgers is upset because he believes that the current front office is tearing apart an organization that was built by all the people that came before them.
The Packers held their first day of offseason training activities (OTAs) on Monday and to no one's surprise, Rodgers was a no-show. Although Rodgers is free to skip OTAs, things will likely get much more interesting next month. The Packers mandatory minicamp runs from June 15-17 and if he's a no-show for that, then the team will have a real problem on its hands, because at that point, the Packers will have no way to know if he'll even show up for training camp.
If a trade is going to happen, it was always going to have to get done after June 1 due to salary cap issues. If Rodgers were to get traded before June 1, the Packers would take on a $38.356 million cap hit, but if the deal comes after June 1, then they can spread out the hit over two years with $21.152 million in 2021 and $17.204 million in 2022.
With minicamp and that key June 1 date right around the corner, it's possible we could have a resolution to this situation before the calendar hits July.
You can see a key part of Rodgers' ESPN interview below.
Aaron Rodgers' most significant part of his interview with Kenny Mayne:— George Balekji (@GeorgeBalekji) May 25, 2021
"The people make an organization. Culture is built brick by brick, the foundation of it by the people. Not by the organization. Not by the building. Not by the corporation. It's built by the people." pic.twitter.com/AeYZacmSHW