Report: “Cautious Optimism” that Aaron Rodgers Returns to Green Bay Packers

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 09: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 09, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 09: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 09, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

There are a lot of question marks and uncertainty surrounding the Green Bay Packers 2022 offseason, most notably, that of Aaron Rodgers’ future.

Does Rodgers end up staying with the Green Bay Packers? Will he ask to be traded? Or is retirement a real option for him?

In a recent report from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, he spoke with a few sources, who told him that Rodgers had hung around the facility a few extra days following the playoff loss, to speak with Matt LaFleur as well as management and “mapping out what’s next.”

Rapoport would also add that the phrase used by his sources was “cautious optimism” that the soon-to-be four-time MVP would return.

"“Cautious optimism was the phrase, per sources, though no one wants to interfere with Rodgers’ process. And Packers decision makers all respect the steps he’ll take to arrive at his eventual decision.”"

Rodgers has discussed on several occasions this offseason how his relationship, particularly with GM Brian Gutekunst, has really grown and he has been more involved with the decision-making–something that he has desired all along.

Rodgers had this to say about his relationship with Gutekunst during an appearance last month on the Adam Schein Podcast.

"“The grass is greener where you water it… I think that where you spend your time and energy and what you choose to water will always be the greenest part of your life,” said Rodgers. “I decided when I came back that I was going to be all in with the team and all in to see things move forward to a better place. And that’s what the conversations were about, you know, during the offseason, was about being a part of those conversations that impact my ability to do my job.“And I, you know, from one of the first days, Brian [Gutekunst] and I sat it down and got on the same page and it’s been a really nice Fall and Winter. I appreciate his approach, how it’s been, and it’s been very meaningful to me. So I’m thankful for that relationship, where it’s at at this point, and that’s made my life that much more enjoyable. So I gotta give Brian a lot of credit for meeting me in the middle.”"

With that said, Rodgers made it clear following the Green Bay Packers’ playoff loss that he did not want to be a part of a rebuild–and who could blame him at this stage of his career.

Sure, the Packers are under a salary cap crunch, but they have a very strong core still intact that includes Rashan Gary, Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, and Kenny Clark on the defensive side of the ball. While on offense, a majority of the offensive line unit will be back and Green Bay has perhaps the best backfield in the NFL.

And when it comes to their pending free agents or potential roster cuts, while difficult decisions will have to be made, it’s also not as if every one of those players is going to be playing elsewhere next season. As we discussed in a recent article, if the Green Bay Packers want someone back, they can make it happen, but there are tradeoffs and corresponding moves that will have to be made.

So, no, I don’t expect Green Bay to be in a rebuild mode. Will there be changes? Of course. But as long as Rodgers is the quarterback, this team will have Super Bowl aspirations.

Lastly, when discussing Rodgers’ future, I think it’s important to talk about how difficult the AFC side is going to be in the coming years. If Rodgers did head to Denver, he would have to play Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and a Las Vegas Raiders team that did just make the playoffs six times each year. Not to mention that once in the playoffs, at some point Rodgers would likely have to run into Joe Burrow and Josh Allen.

In the NFC, things are much more wide open. In the division, Detroit is still trying to figure things out while Minnesota and Chicago are each bringing in new coaches and GMs. Overall, the quarterback play that Rodgers and Green Bay would have to contend with is nowhere near at the level that it’s at in the AFC–especially if Tom Brady does in fact decide to retire.

All of this is, of course, speculation on my part, but with Rapoport reporting that he has heard there is “cautious optimism” within the Green Bay Packers organization about Rodgers returning, it does make a lot of sense for all of the reasons mentioned above. With that said, there is still a lot to be decided and I imagine Rodgers is still weighing his options.

In his latest interview on the Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers hinted that a decision could come as soon as late February when the window for teams to utilize the franchise tag opens up.

As we all know, Green Bay has a decision to make in that regard with wide receiver Davante Adams, and Rapoport would also mention in his article that the Packers are “expected” to franchise tag Adams with the intention of working out a long-term deal.

Based on a recent report, Adams is looking to earn $30 million per year on a new deal. The Packers, meanwhile, are reportedly in the $24 million range. Again, still a lot to be figured out here as well.