Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ teammates say the MVP’s uncertain status won’t distract them in their offseason preparations.
Rodgers hasn’t been present for organized team activities this week following an ESPN report last month that he doesn’t want to return to Green Bay. Rodgers was noncommittal about his future in an ESPN interview Monday night.
"I don’t think it’s going to be that much of a distraction," defensive tackle Kenny Clark said Tuesday. "We’ve got to control what we can control as a team, and we’ve just to come out, practice, handle business and play ball. You know, we’ve got to leave that situation to the organization and Aaron."
Rodgers wasn’t the only notable Packer missing from Tuesday’s OTA session. Most of his receivers also weren’t there, including All-Pro Davante Adams.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur said he didn’t know whether it might have been a coordinated effort by the receivers to stay away.
"I’ve had individual conversations with each guy, but never once has that come up," LaFleur said.
The NFL Players’ Association has advised players against attending voluntary workouts while citing the risks inherent amid the pandemic.
Although Rodgers wasn’t around, he still dominated discussions as Packers players spoke to reporters Tuesday. Many of the questions focused on the issues Rodgers addressed in the interview that ESPN aired Monday night.
"Love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay," Rodgers said in the interview. "An incredible 16 years. It’s just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting that it is about the people that make the thing go. It’s about character, it’s about culture, it’s about doing things the right way.
"A lot of this was put in motion last year and the wrench was just kind of thrown into it when I won MVP and played the way I played last year. This is just kind of, I think, a spill-out of all that. But it is about the people, and that’s the most important thing."
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Rodgers went on to reference Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, Brett Favre, Reggie White and Mike Holmgren while talking about how "Green Bay has always been about the people."
LaFleur declined to comment on the issues Rodgers addressed while reiterating his hopes to have the three-time MVP back this fall. General manager Brian Gutekunst has said he has no plans to trade Rodgers, who has three years remaining on his contract.
"Aaron definitely knows how we feel about him, how he’s such an important part to our football team, such an important part to our organization," LaFleur said. "We’re just going to continue to try to work through this and hopefully can get him back in the building at some point."
Safety Adrian Amos was cautiously optimistic that Rodgers will remain with the Packers.
"I haven’t heard him say anything other than that, so I expect him to be (back)," Amos said. "But like I said, I’m not going to go home and cry if something else happens. I’m just playing it day by day. But of course, you want one of the greatest, if not the greatest, quarterback ever on your team. You want him out here. But everybody has to go about their business. I’m not going to knock anybody for getting what they feel like they deserve."
Running back Aaron Jones signed a four-year, $48 million contract to remain with the Packers less than two months before the news broke regarding Rodgers’ disenchantment. Jones said he hadn’t spoken with Rodgers beforehand about the quarterback’s issues with the organization, but added that it likely wouldn’t have impacted his decision to sign a long-term deal.
"This is home," Jones said. "This is where I love to be. I love the coaches, my teammates, the community, the system — everything. I feel like this is where I still would have been.
"Once I signed, we communicated. He told me congratulations. He was happy for me."