Aaron Rodgers walked into the tunnel at Lambeau Field Sunday night after the Packers lost their regular-season finale and were eliminated from the playoffs.
Rodgers left the field in a sentimental fashion, wrapping his arm around longtime teammate Randall Cobb.
“It could be time to step away,” Rodgers said after last week’s game.
Last offseason, Rodgers was noncommittal about returning to Green Bay or retiirng. But, after a summer filled trading jabs with the front office, the four-time NFL MVP agreed to a three-year, $150 million contract extension with the Packers.
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Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst mentioned that massive contract when he was asked about the potential impact Rodgers’ decision will have on the team’s offseason.
“We made a really big commitment to him last offseason,” Gutekunst told reporters Friday. “As we did that, it wasn’t certainly for just this year. He’s gonna take his time. The communication will be pretty constant as we move forward.”
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Gutekunst did acknowledge that the 39-year-old quarterback needs time to process things.
“We’ve had great conversations like we always do,” he said of Rodgers’ timeline. “I really respect the process he goes through after the season. He’s done this for a long time. What he goes through during the offseason to get prepared for a season is significant, and I understand the decision he has to make on whether he wants to go through that. So I’ve always tried to give him that time.”
This offseason presents a different set of circumstances for Rodgers and the Packers. Third-year quarterback Jordan Love gained more experience, starting in place of an injured Rodgers in Week 12.
Love threw for 113 yards and a touchdown in that game against the Philadelphia Eagles, who were undefeated at the time. Gutekunst expressed his confidence in the former first-round pick’s progress.
“I definitely think he’s ready to play,” Gutekunst said of Love. “I think he feels that way. I think he’s chomping at the bit. But, at the same time, we’re going to do what’s best for the Green Bay Packers and what gives us the best chance to win moving forward.”
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But Gutekunst tempered suggestions that Love would put the Packers in a better position to win in 2023 than Rodgers.
“You’re talking about a four-time MVP, right?” said Gutekunst. “We’re very excited about Jordan and where he’s at — there’s no doubt about that. But Jordan’s never played a 16-, 17-game season, gone through all the stuff. It’s no different from when we moved from Brett to Aaron, right? That’s a hard thing to say. At the same time, where Aaron’s at, the level he’s at, there’s not many teams he wouldn’t give the best chance to win.”
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has previously expressed his interest in Rodgers being under center next season.
As the Packers await Rodgers’ decision, the organization will soon have to decide whether to pick up Love’s fifth-year option.
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Asked if he thinks Rodgers and Love can coexist next season, Gutekunst replied, “Sure. But those guys work well together in the room.”
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