GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers’ future with the Green Bay Packers has gone from a “beautiful mystery” the last two years to the future Hall of Fame quarterback telling reporters Tuesday he will “definitely” be finishing his career with the only team he’s ever suited up for.
It’s not a stunning statement if you follow the team regularly, but it seemed near impossible at this point last year. Twelve months removed from a contentious offseason that included reports of Rodgers being adamant he would never play for the Packers again, it’s a remarkable turnaround. But with that piece of the puzzle settled, now everyone wants to know when that end will come.
The 38-year-old will be entering his 18th season with the team this fall, including his 15th year as the starter. He just signed a contract extension that ties him to the club through the 2026 season. Rodgers admitted that the deal, based on the cap hits that grow significantly, is more like a 1-year contract that will lead to more discussions between him and the team at the end of the year. But retirement is certainly something on his mind. He talked about it at The Match golf event last week in Las Vegas and again at his locker Tuesday.
“In March, when I made the decision, that’s 100% in. But it doesn’t mean you don’t think about the other side,” Rodgers said. “Of course, you think about the next chapter and what’s next to life all the time. That doesn’t mean you’re not fully invested. When I said, ‘I’m back,’ I’m 100% invested.”
Towards the end of former Packers quarterback Brett Favre’s career in Green Bay (before going to New York and Minnesota) he would often talk about his love for playing on Sundays and his detest for almost everything else that comes with playing the position. Now, with Rodgers being the same age Favre was in his final year in a Packers uniform, he is starting to sound very much like him.
“Playing is easy. That’s the easy part. It’s the other part that’s the grind,” Rodgers said. “You wear a lot of hats as a quarterback and it’s more than just playing on Sundays. I think at some point the grind gets to all of us and every year it seems like a slightly bigger commitment to commit to being the guy again for another season. It just comes down to where I’m at. Obviously, I want the team to be successful. Obviously, I don’t want to be a bum standing back there playing like crap and not able to move around. So if the talent goes, it’s a no brainer. But it’s a little harder when you still can really play and and the mental part is difficult.”
Rodgers can definitely still play. He’s coming off back-to-back NFL MVP seasons and looked poised for more success during the first practice of minicamp, even pulling out no-look passes that left cornerback Rasul Douglas swearing to reporters afterwards.
CB Rasul Douglas on seeing Aaron Rodgers on the field for the first time this offseason:
“He already gave us a no-look pass on the first day. I was like, ‘shit, welcome back to you, too.’” #Packers
Still, could this be the final year of Rodgers’ career? It’s certainly a possibility with him wanting to spend more and more time on the West Coast and doing the things that make him happy year round. After staying away for all but one day of the offseason program, including the first two weeks of voluntary OTAs, he joked that he only showed up for mandatory minicamp to avoid getting fined. What’s clear is that it is getting harder and harder for Rodgers to leave his California home each year.
But his decision to retire or not will never be made before a season, at least not publicly. There won’t be any retirement tours or season-long farewells. He might want that storybook ending of winning a championship and walking off but each season brings different feelings when it ends.
“I don’t want to commit to something. You say ‘I’m only playing one more year’ and you have a bitter taste in your mouth and still got the drive and the passion to play one or two more years. I just don’t want to get pigeonholed into it,” Rodgers said. “I’m focused on the season. I’m never going to drag it out in the offseason. The conversations I’ve had with (GM) Brian (Gutekunst) have been very honest and direct and that’s not going to change. We’ll sit down after the season, hopefully after a championship, and figure out what the next step is.”