Brian Gutekunst has a goal and his preferred outcome begins with a commitment from 2021 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers to play for the Packers next season.
But the process in Green Bay might not play out on the general manager’s ideal schedule. Because Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur want to understand Rodgers’ plans before making other moves, Gutekunst said Wednesday at a scheduled press conference there are “no deadlines” where Rodgers is involved.
This means that as of Wednesday, the Packers are in much the same position they were after the loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs: waiting for the Rodgers domino to fall.
“This has been more of a conversation about where we’re headed together. This is a process we’re going through, and a process he’s going through,” Gutekunst said.
“We’ve had really good conversations with Aaron.”
The layered offseason for the Packers is fraught with variables and salary-cap concerns. Rodgers could still retire or ask for a trade, a determination he said Tuesday he hasn’t yet made. He could also return to the team, or indicate he’ll come back only if the Packers address his contract.
All of the “hypotheticals” have Gutekunst working on a matrix of if-then scenarios that would dramatically alter the direction of the Packers — at least in the short term.
Gutekunst said the Packers are also hopeful unrestricted free agent Davante Adams is with the organization going forward. When asked about using the franchise tag to retain Adams at more than $18 million for 2022, Gutekunst said he’d prefer to reach a long-term deal that works for both sides.
Getting that done might be even more improbable than keeping Rodgers content given Adams position that he wants to be the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals had the highest wideout salary of $27.25 million in 2021.
The Packers are well over the projected salary cap of $208 million for 2022, even after restructuring the contract of nose tackle Kenny Clark on Wednesday.
Gutekunst professed he is “very confident” the Packers are in position to “compete for championships” with Rodgers and Adams. He said retaining the high-priced playmakers would not prevent the Packers from being competitive, or kick-start a fire sale.
That includes one valuable backup on the roster — Rodgers understudy Jordan Love, a first-rounder in 2020.
“I would be very doutbful to take any of those calls,” Gutekunst said of any trade offers for Love.
Rodgers sent Green Bay and the NFL-watching world into a tizzy with an Instagram post in which he heaped gratitude on Adams and wide receiver Randall Cobb and spoke partially in past tense. But Rodgers said Tuesday in an interview with Pat McAfee that he had no final answers on his future yet.
Gutekunst continues to nurture the relationship with Rodgers, agitated by the Love draft pick and exacerbated by what Rodgers said in 2021 was disrespect from the GM.
In the most recent example of giving his quarterback a voice, he said the franchise welcomed Rodgers’ input on hiring quarterbacks coach Tom Clements for another tour of duty in Green Bay.
Asked to measure the worst possible outcome of losing Rodgers and Adams, Gutekunst said the Packers would still compete.
“We’re going to field a competitive team regardless. We’re the Green Bay Packers,” Gutekunst said. “We may have to do things different ways if those hypotheticals come into play.”
–Field Level Media