Where there's smoke, there's fire, they say. And Green Bay is billowing with it. As the Packers wrapped up their 2021 NFL Draft, their star quarterback -- Aaron Rodgers -- appears increasingly ready to call it quits with the team. The reigning MVP is reportedly contemplating retirement as a way of forcing a trade, and team president Mark Murphy has all but confirmed as much by acknowledging the Packers are "very aware" of the "issue" with their longtime signal-caller.
In addition, Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson reports that Rodgers' concern is primarily with general manager Brian Gutekunst, and that the QB is prepared to hold out of training camp this summer.
The reigning league MVP "remains adamant," Robinson writes, "that he won't return to the team under the current stewardship of ... Gutekunst, a source in Rodgers' camp said, and that he's willing to weigh hardline options at his disposal -- from refusing to show up for offseason activities to holding out of training camp and possibly retirement."
Following the conclusion of the draft, Gutekunst attempted to throw cold water on the Yahoo! Sports report, though he did so in a way that notably was not a 100 percent denial of the facts.
"Aaron hasn't said anything like that to me and certainly hasn't said anything publicly," he said, per ESPN.com. "I think that's a little unfair to put that on him. Certainly don't like to hear those things, but no, nothing's been communicated directly to me."
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Just because Rodgers has not communicated his concerns to Gutekunst or stated them publicly, does not mean those concerns do not exist. Gutekunst might just be trying to smooth things out with Rodgers by batting down the report, but there will presumably be more mending of fences necessary.
Gutekunst had previously echoed other Packers leaders, including Murphy and coach Matt LaFleur, in publicly committing to Rodgers as the team's QB in 2021 and beyond. But Robinson reports that Rodgers may already believe his broken relationship with the GM is beyond repair. The QB's concern with Gutekunst can be linked primarily to the Packers' move up in the first round of the 2020 draft, when Green Bay surprisingly added QB Jordan Love, despite just signing Rodgers to an extension two years prior.
Gutekunst did not inform Rodgers of the Love selection ahead of time, per Robinson, and since then, Rodgers has "believed that it was (the GM)'s plan to move on from him after the 2020 season -- but that Rodgers smashed that timeline with his MVP performance." After guiding Green Bay to a second straight NFC Championship Game, Robinson reports, Rodgers approached the Packers requesting a new contract with additional guaranteed money that would confirm him as the starting QB through at least 2022. Green Bay was not initially receptive to the idea, per Robinson, instead offering a "modest restructure" of Rodgers' deal.