Aaron Rodgers contemplates a future with the Packers or perhaps elsewhere

Last June, Aaron Rodgers said he “definitely” plans to finish his career with the Green Bay Packers. Less than eight months later, he didn’t seem so sure.

First things first, Rodgers must decide if he wants to play the NFL’s 19th season. He said Tuesday he hasn’t come to that decision yet, just over a week after the Packers finished their season with an 8-9 record.

But if his plans don’t intersect with what the Packers want, he can’t be certain he’ll never play for another team. In an appearance on the hour-long “The Pat McAfee Show,” Rodgers said he still believes he can play at a high level, whether it’s for the Packers or another team.

“I think I can win MVP again in the right situation,” Rodgers said. “The right situation, is this Green Bay or is it somewhere else? I’m not sure. But I don’t think you should close any opportunity. Like I said during the season, both sides should really want to work together going forward, and I think there are more conversations that have to be performed.”

Publicly, Packers coach Matt Lafleur and general manager Brian Gutkunst expressed interest in Rodgers returning. Last week, Gutekunst reiterated that the three-year, $150 million contract they offered Rodgers last March was a commitment that “certainly wasn’t for this year.”

Rodgers took a few days off last week to meet with Gutkunst, LaFleur and other members of the Packers before he left Green Bay and headed back to California for the end-of-season break. While Rodgers said he “had all the conversations I wanted to have,” he didn’t indicate if the packers told him if they planned to reload or rebuild.

“I think no player wants to be part of any kind of rebuilding; I’ve said that for years,” said Rodgers. “Reloads are so much fun because you feel like you’re close, you’re only two people away. This game is about relationships, it’s about the players you play with and rely on even if they don’t look huge in the stat book.”

Many of Rodgers’ closest friends — David Bakhtiari, Randall Cobb, Mason Crosby, Alain Lazard, Mercedes Lewis and Robert Tunyan — have uncertain futures with the team, whether that’s because they’ll be free agents or because they have contracts that may need to be renegotiated.

“There are a lot of interesting names out there and we’ll see if there’s an appetite to re-sign some of the players who work with glue in the dressing room. [and that] “It’s going to be an interesting conversation,” said Rodgers. Take all of that away, I still need to mentally get to a point where I feel 100 percent locked in and ready to play Season 19. And if you do, we’ll rock and roll and find out. If I don’t, we’ll go into the bush for a while.”

“I still need to mentally get to a point where I feel 100% locked in and ready to play Season 19. And if I do, we’re going to rock ‘n’ roll and figure it out. If I don’t, we’re going to be going bushwalking for a while.”

Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers, 39, is coming off one of his worst seasons. He had nearly as many interceptions (12) as he did in the previous three seasons combined (13). After back-to-back MVP seasons, Rodgers threw for fewest yards (3,695) in any season in which he played at least 15 games. He did not have a single 300-yard passing game. Since taking over as a starter, he has never spent a season with fewer than three 300+ yard games. He also suffered a broken thumb and injuries to his ribs and knee during the season.

The Packers missed the playoffs for the first time since 2018. They lost 20-16 to the Detroit Lions in the regular season finale when a win would have made Green Bay into the postseason. Had the Packers been eliminated before the end, they might have considered shutting down Rodgers to give third year backup Jordan Love a stretch look.

“If they want to go younger and they think Jordan is ready to go, that might be the way they want to go,” Rodgers said. “And if that’s the case and I still want to play, there’s only one option, right? And that’s playing somewhere else. If that’s not the case, they’re like, ‘No, no, no, we still want you to play,'” And this and that, then it has to be right with the roster it looks like we can win them all because there’s no point in going back if you don’t think you can win it all.”

Rodgers has not given any timetable for deciding whether or not he will play in 2023. He said he plans to reappear on McAfee next Tuesday, but will have no update on his status for next season at that time.

“They’re not pressing for any kind of definitive answer, and I’m not mentally or emotionally at that point to give an answer,” Rodgers said. “If I were asked about it, I would answer honestly. But that wouldn’t be something where I would respond to a bunch of inquiries about, ‘What are you thinking about this week?'” or “What are you thinking about next week?” It pulls you away from it mentally, emotionally, and then physically. When your body starts to come back after a few weeks of TLC, I think you are in a better mental position to think about your future.”

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