GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers still wants to finish his career with the Green Bay Packers, but he knows that became more difficult when his team traded up to No. 26 to select his possible replacement, Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, in last month's NFL draft.
Rodgers admitted Friday he was surprised and not "thrilled by the pick, necessarily," but he added, "I understand."
"I think it was more the surprise of the pick, based on my own feelings of wanting to play into my 40s, and really the realization that it does change the controllables a little bit," Rodgers said during a nearly 40-minute conference call. "Because as much as I feel confident in my abilities and what I can accomplish and what we can accomplish, there are some new factors that are out of my control. And so my sincere desire to start and finish with the same organization, just as it has with many other players over the years, may not be a reality at this point.
"And as much as I understand the organization's future outlook and wanting to make sure they're thinking about the team now and down the line -- and I respect that -- at the same time, I still believe in myself and have a strong desire to play into my 40s. And I'm just not sure how that all works together at this point."
Rodgers, 36, is under contract for four more seasons via the $134 million contract extension he signed in August 2018, and on Friday he reiterated his desire to finish out that contract and then perhaps play beyond it.
The Packers could begin to reap salary-cap savings on Rodgers' deal if they moved on after the 2020 season, but it would be small; they would save only $4.76 million on the cap and have $31.556 million in dead money. Rodgers has a cap number of $36.3 million in 2021 and $39.9 million in 2022. After the 2021 season, the Packers would save $22.648 million in salary-cap space by making a move, but would have to count $17.204 million in dead money.
Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre for three years before Favre briefly retired following the 2007 season. By the time Favre expressed a desire to return for the 2008 season, the Packers told him they had moved on to Rodgers and traded Favre to the New York Jets. Favre then finished his career with two seasons for the rival Minnesota Vikings.
Favre said recently that he thought the Love pick meant Rodgers also would finish his career with another team.
"I think what it does is just reinforce kind of the adage that you can only control what you can control," Rodgers said. "It's always been a mantra for myself, but I think any great athlete there's things that are just out of our control. That obviously is something that's very important to me, but I think is definitely telling at this point that is truly something that's out of my control. What I can control is how I play and making that decision at some point a very hard one. You know, if I were to retire in the organization's timetable, then it's an easy decision. But if there comes a time where I feel like I can still play at a high level and my body feels great, you know, then there's other guys that have gone on and played elsewhere."
Dan Graziano makes a bold prediction that Packers 1st-round draft pick Jordan Love will win more Super Bowls than Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.
The Packers went 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship Game last season, despite Rodgers playing below his previous MVP standard. He posted his lowest career Total QBR (50.4) in the regular season and had 10 games with a Total QB under 50 (second most among starting quarterbacks, behind only the Bears' Mitchell Trubisky with 11). In a sign that his mobility and willingness to run have waned, he held the ball for an average of 2.88 seconds (the sixth highest in the NFL last season, according to Next Gen Stats data).
His leadership, however, was key to getting players to buy into new coach Matt LaFleur's system.
"I totally understand where he's coming from," LaFleur said Friday during a conference call shortly after Rodgers spoke. "I think he's very motivated, and he doesn't need external motivation. He's one of the most competitive people I've ever been around. And you guys, you can see that competitiveness every time we step out on that field. So I don't think it's going to drive him any more than if we would've drafted somebody else. I just think that's who he is, that's how he's wired, that's why he's achieved the things that he's done throughout his career."
Rodgers' relationship with Favre was icy at first, although the two later grew close. Favre famously said: "My contract doesn't say I have to get Aaron Rodgers ready to play. Now hopefully he watches me and gets something from that."
Rodgers, however, initiated the first conversation with Love the day after the Packers picked him, and said Love isn't at fault for the situation.
"I've had great relationships over the years with [backups], and I'd expect that same type of relationship with Jordan," Rodgers said. "You know, again, he didn't get asked to be drafted by the Packers.
"He's not to blame at all. He's just coming in excited about his opportunity. We had a great conversation the day after the draft, and I'm excited to work with him. He seems like a really good kid with a good head on his shoulders. Similar story, not heavily recruited out of college. Kind of made his way at Utah State and we've had some great conversations."