Aaron Rodgers has spent all 15 seasons of his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers. Team management believes he'll still be around for "quite a while." Coach Matt LaFleur expects him to be "the leader of this football team" for "a long time." But none of the public embraces of Rodgers in recent months have swayed the quarterback's own opinion of his future in Green Bay. Speaking with Kyle Brandt for The Ringer on Tuesday, Rodgers made it clear he foresees finishing his career with someone other than the Packers.
"I think that's probably what happens, you know, based on the circumstances around everything," Rodgers told Brandt when asked whether Green Bay will ultimately decide to move on from him or keep 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love on the bench. "Just look at the facts. They traded up, they drafted him, obviously they like him, they wanna play him."
Fresh off a trip to the NFC Championship, the 36-year-old Rodgers is technically under contract with Green Bay through 2023. But considering he expects to play into his 40s, he's aware the Packers will at some point be forced to pick between he and Love, who was taken 26th overall out of Utah State in April.
"And I get it, I really do," he said. "I don't harbor any ill will about it. Like, was I bummed out? Of course. Who wouldn't be? I wanted to play my entire career in Green Bay. I loved the city. I grew up there ... But look, I get it. I see it completely clearly, and I'm not bitter about it. It just kind of is what it is."
Rodgers has shared similar thoughts before, saying he was surprised by the Packers' decision to take a QB so early but understands the business side of the NFL. His latest remarks, though, are the closest he's come to all but offering an early farewell to Green Bay.
To hammer home his expectations, Rodgers contended that the Packers have more incentive to play Love than they did to play him back in 2005, when Green Bay used a first-rounder on Rodgers while Brett Favre was still the big-name starter. The Pack were 10-6 and lost their first playoff game the year prior, he pointed out, whereas the 2019 Packers went 13-3, won a home postseason game and were within a win of reaching the Super Bowl. The Pack also let Rodgers slide into their laps back in 2005, he added, whereas this offseason, "they traded up and drafted Jordan."
On the night of the draft, Rodgers explained, he reckoned with this reality for the first time.
"When they (traded) up ... I was thinking about which receiver might be there at that time," he said. "So when they traded up ... I perked up a little bit ... I wasn't elated by the pick, especially being one game away from the Super Bowl and feeling like we're a couple players away. At the same time, I understand it's a business ... I poured myself some tequila and FaceTimed and talked to a bunch of people that night.
"And the next day I called Jordan," he said. "Because I just wanted to make sure he knew that I knew what he was thinking. The last thing you want to deal with is any negativity around realizing a childhood dream."