If the decision were up to Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, Aaron Rodgers would be back in Green Bay next weekend.
LaFleur was asked by reporters on Monday how confident he is that Rodgers will return. He made it clear, appearing to speak on behalf of the organization, that a Rodgers return is what’s wanted.
“I sat down and talked to Aaron today for quite some time,” LaFleur said. “I think we’re all a little numb to the situation right now. I would say that what we talked about I’m definitely going to keep between him and myself, but we’re hopeful that he’ll be back next year, obviously.
“This guy has done so much for such a long period of time for this organization, for this city, for this team. I want to be respectful of his process. Whatever he needs to go through to make the best decision for himself, and certainly we would love for him to be a Packer until the day he decides to retire.”
The Packers, who were stunned in the divisional round by the 49ers on Saturday, are about $45 million over next year’s salary cap. Rodgers’ favorite weapon, Davante Adams, is a free agent. Difficult decisions loom for the franchise to be as talented as the team that had the best record in the NFL this regular season.
Rodgers, 38, was non-committal when asked directly about the possibility after the devastating 13-10 home loss to the 49ers, saying, “I don’t want to be a part of a rebuild if I’m going to keep playing.”
“That’s a fair question — definitely one I’ve thought about,” Rodgers said. “But there are a lot of decisions to be made and key players … So many guys’ contracts are up or on the brink or salary-cap stuff, so lot of decisions to be made.”
For LaFleur to say he wants Rodgers to return is pretty big news, considering the quarterback would be an unrestricted free agent after next season. If the Packers parted ways with him now, they could potentially recoup several top draft picks for their rebuild. In a year, they could lose him for nothing. Perhaps a happy medium could include a contract extension that eases his cap burden next season, but locks him up for longer.
LaFleur was also asked why Rodgers did not play up to his MVP-caliber level on Saturday.
“From what I saw, he was under an immense amount of pressure, and it’s hard to play that position when you’ve got pressure in your lap the whole game,” LaFleur said. “I thought there were a lot of things he did great. I really did.
“Unfortunately we hold him to such a high, high standard, just like he holds himself to that high standard. But ultimately, like we’ve said many times, the quarterback will get too much blame when things don’t go right, and too much credit [when they do]. But ultimately, this is a team game, and the game we played the other night is the epitome of it takes all three phases.”
LaFleur said they did a lot of great things on defense, had the costly blunders on special teams and did not play up to their standards on offense.