As if the problems with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers front office weren’t annoying enough, his contract situation isn’t the only one that’s headed south right before the start of training camp. Davante Adams couldn’t come to terms with the Packers on an extension, and apparently, Za’Darius Smith isn’t happy about his deal either. While this push-and-pull is a normal part of the business on any NFL team, the way Green Bay’s players have gone about it is unique — and it shows the influence that Rodgers has on his teammates.
The cryptic social media posts over the last few days have really gained steam. It started when Rodgers and Adams both posted the same Instagram story: a picture of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen from The Last Dance. The posts seemed to indicate that the two may be considering running it back one last time in Green Bay.
Some might view this as encouraging (“This means they’re coming back next season, right?!”), but keep in mind the similarities between that NBA dynasty team and the Packers in 2021, and what that might mean for the future.
Earlier this offseason, reports surfaced that Rodgers had texted with teammates referring to Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst as Jerry Krause, the longtime general manager of the Chicago Bulls. He was shredded in The Last Dance as someone who players, especially Jordan, couldn’t stand.
Rodgers’ post could be a play on that and an insinuation that he will return for one more shot at a title despite his clear disdain for Gutekunst. His teammates are chiming in as well, which is where things become more tricky. Do other players share Rodgers’ opinion on Gutekunst? Certainly, his inability to re-sign Adams isn’t great, but what are No. 17’s views on the GM?
Rodgers’ influence seems to have a hypnotizing effect on some of his teammates. It’s reminiscent of the popular kid in school who everyone else follows along with and invests in their every word. No matter the circumstances, the popular kid will always have their supporting cast around them.
No. 12’s decision looms. The Packers could end up cutting ties with him and committing to a trade either this summer or next. Either way, he likely won’t finish his career in Green Bay. But even if Rodgers is sent elsewhere, has the damage been done? If he’s convinced many of his teammates that Gutekunst is this Jerry Krause-type character, the fracture could be significant enough for the cracks to spread to other parts of the roster even if Rodgers is gone.
This isn’t to say Rodgers is wrong. We don’t know Gutekunst personally, but the Packers’ front office has done a masterful job of botching this situation from the start. No reigning MVP should feel like he’s being pushed out the door, and whether or not you view Rodgers’ case as valid, that’s clearly how it feels — Green Bay’s front office has done more than enough to make him feel that way.
Rodgers’ relationship with the front office is likely past the point of repair, but if this conflict starts a domino effect throughout the roster, Green Bay could be in big trouble. I’m not trolling for clicks with a doomsday scenario — this is the reality of the situation.
Za’Darius Smith became the latest layer to pile on, with reports suggesting he’s also unhappy with his current contract situation in Green Bay. Again, this happens all the time with players in the NFL, but the timing of these frustrations being voiced couldn’t be worse for the Packers.
As one league source explained it to PFT, Smith is believed to be unhappy about the team exercising the automatic conversion option in his contract, converting a large chunk of 2021 salary to a guaranteed payment and, in turn, pushing his 2022 cap number north of $28 million. He knows that, come next year, the magnitude of the cap charge for keeping him around means he’ll likely be cut or traded.… And it’s believed that, like quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Smith wants security or he wants out.
Everyone in Green Bay seems to be playing follow the leader. When the star quarterback and reigning MVP doesn’t feel like he can trust his own front office, it’s only natural that other players would take that into consideration. The Packers’ biggest worry has to be that other players have bought into Rodgers’ argument and feel the same lack of trust in the franchise. If that’s the case, things could look a hell of a lot different in Green Bay next year.