Despite Rodgers’s individual accolades, the Packers had lost to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home in the N.F.C. championship game to end the 2020 season, continuing Rodgers’s drought of Super Bowl appearances since winning in the 2010 season. Before that game, Rodgers told reporters that his future with the team was a “beautiful mystery.”
Rodgers skipped all of Green Bay’s voluntary workouts, and as training camp approached, he and receiver Davante Adams posted identical pictures of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on Instagram, hinting that the coming season could be their “last dance” together in Green and Gold. The Packers voided the final year of Rodgers’s contract, allowing him more control and freedom to be traded. Adams is expected to receive Green Bay’s franchise tag this week.
In July 2021, on the first day of training camp, Rodgers held a 31-minute news conference. For the first time, he explained his frustrations. “I just expressed my desire to be more involved in conversations directly affecting my job,” he said, adding that he felt the organization had not used him to help recruit free agents.
“If you can’t commit to me past 2021, and I’m not a part of the recruiting process in free agency, if I’m not a part of the future,” Rodgers said, “instead of letting me be a lame-duck quarterback, if you want to take a chance and move forward, then go ahead and do it.”
Rodgers tested positive for the coronavirus in November, months after he told reporters that he was “immunized,” against the disease. The N.F.L. fined him $14,650 for violating protocols for unvaccinated players, which included not wearing a mask during his weekly news conferences and attending a Halloween party.
But as the 2021 season progressed, with Rodgers leading Green Bay to a 13-4 record and the top seed in the playoffs, his relationship with Gutekunst and other members of the Packers’ front office improved to the point that Rodgers said he would take time to assess his next steps after the team’s season ended with a dispiriting loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round.
Rodgers’s return nails down a major part of the Packers’ off-season puzzle and forces other teams searching for an upgrade at quarterback to look elsewhere. Facing salary cap concerns, and a host of unrestricted free agents, Gutekunst can now turn his attention to the free-agent market, which opens March 16. Rodgers’s impending deal is expected to clear some cap space to allow management to address other players’ contracts, perhaps the most important — and potentially not the last — of his contributions to personnel matters.