Non-answers on Aaron Rodgers' contract ensure speculation to continue

Mark Murphy's non-answers about restructuring Aaron Rodgers' contract has once again fueled speculation about the quarterback's future with the team beyond his current contract. Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy had a chance to diffuse what has again become a brewing situation with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

But unlike in the immediate aftermath of the season after Rodgers openly questioned his future in Green Bay and Murphy quickly tried to put that narrative to rest, Tuesday’s non-answers reopened the speculation about the reigning NFL MVP’s future with the Packers.

Murphy, who acts as the team owner, refused to say why the team has not restructured or extended Rodgers' contract.

The Packers restructured the contracts of six different players this offseason to create much-needed salary-cap space both to get under the cap and also re-sign free agents such as Aaron Jones and Kevin King.

But they didn’t touch Rodgers’ deal.

“I can’t really get into specific players,” Murphy said. “We’ve been able to create room with others.”

When asked why he wouldn’t want to do something to ensure Rodgers is the Packers’ quarterback beyond just this season, Murphy said: “Yeah, I’m not going to get [into] the specifics again. Good try, though.”

Rodgers is under contract through the 2023 season, but his future has been in question ever since general manager Brian Gutekunst drafted QB Jordan Love in the first round last year.

Rodgers called his future a “beautiful mystery” during the week leading up to the NFC Championship Game and then after the title game loss to the Buccaneers included himself in the group of players with uncertain futures in Green Bay.

Shortly thereafter, Murphy told Green Bay radio station WNFL: “There’s no way in heck Aaron is not going to be on the Packers ... we’re not idiots.”

Although both Gutekunst and coach Matt LaFleur also have said publicly that they see Rodgers in Green Bay both in 2021 and beyond, that they’ve left his contract untouched means they could move on after this season and pick up between $22 million and $25 million in salary-cap space. Those familiar with Rodgers' thinking believe he wants assurances that he's not a lame-duck quarterback in 2021.

The Packers could have done that by adjusting his contract. Instead, they passed on the chance to convert his March roster bonus of $6.8 million into a signing bonus, which would have pushed cap charges into future years and therefore created more dead money if they moved on.

Murphy, who became the Packers’ president shortly before the 2008 split with Brett Favre, also would not say whether he’s concerned if there’s an issue developing between the organization and Rodgers.

“Again, I'm not going to get into any individual player or any issues along those lines,” Murphy said.

Perhaps the questions caught Murphy off guard considering he was on a Zoom call to discuss Tuesday’s NFL owners meetings in which the league voted to expand the regular season to 17 games, but Murphy was given three different chances to address the Rodgers situation and he did not.

Whatever the reason, it ensured that this storyline will have legs throughout the offseason.