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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Aaron Rodgers considers ‘tough decision’ on future after latest playoff loss | Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers heads into another offseason of uncertainty after one more frustrating finish to a brilliant year. Rodgers drove the Packers to a touchdown on the game’s opening possession, then couldn’t get them back in the end zone the rest of Saturday night. Their season ended with a stunning 13-10 NFC divisional playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

“A little numb, for sure,” Rodgers said after game. “I didn’t think it was going to end like this.”

But was this just the end of Rodgers’ season? Or is it the end of his remarkable tenure in Green Bay? The upset loss capped a turbulent year in which Rodgers skipped the Packers’ mandatory minicamp; missed a game due to a positive Covid-19 test after making misleading comments about his vaccination status; but still earned All-Pro honors and put himself in position for a possible fourth MVP award.

Rodgers didn’t want to speculate on his future. He said last month that he hadn’t ruled out any possibility, including returning to Green Bay, requesting a trade or retiring.

“I’m still super competitive, still know I can play at a high level, so it’s going to be a tough decision,” Rodgers said after the game. “I have a lot of things to weigh in the coming weeks. But man, just so much gratitude for this city and this organization and such a long, long career here that I’m proud of and really thankful for all the men and women that work here, the men I’ve gotten to cross paths with, coaches and players over the years.”

Rodgers did say on Saturday night that his relationship with general manager Brian Gutekunst had improved this season.

“There’s a lot of players whose futures are up in the air, so definitely will be interesting to see which way some of those decisions will go,” Rodgers said. “But I’ll have the conversations with Brian in the next week or so and get a little bit more clarity and think about my own future and how much longer I want to keep doing this.”

The Packers are $44.8m over their projected salary cap for next season, which means they will almost certainly have to shed key players. That would hurt their chances of contending for the Super Bowl. At the age of 38, Rodgers knows his chances of a second championship to add to the one he won with the Packers in February 2011 are limited. He has been linked to a move to teams such as the Denver Broncos and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who both have strong defenses but lack a threat at quarterback. Rodgers on Saturday said he would make a decision on his future by the time the free agency window opens on 16 March.

“I don’t want to be part of a rebuild if I’m going to keep playing, so a lot of decisions in the next couple months,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers entered Saturday having thrown 20 touchdown passes with no interceptions over his last seven regular-season games. But he once again wasn’t spectacular in the postseason. He went 20 of 29 for 225 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He was sacked five times while working behind an offensive line missing injured tackle David Bakhtiari. When the Packers had the ball in a tie game in the closing minutes, they went three-and-out and punted, which eventually led to the 49ers’ winning field goal.

“I think Aaron did everything he could,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “He was under a lot of duress. I think it’s more to do with I didn’t put our guys in position to make enough plays. I take that very personally.”

The Packers had a brutal night on special teams, with a blocked punt leading to a 49ers’ touchdown. The Niners also blocked a Mason Crosby field goal, which would have given the Packers a 10-0 lead. However, Rodgers admitted he could have played better himself.

“I didn’t have a great night tonight,” said Rodgers. “They did a good job of kind of getting me off the spot, and a better job of taking away some of the quick game we got going last time we played them. I missed a couple reads. I probably should have taken a couple hole-shot chances a couple times. Obviously, if I hit Allen [Lazard] on that deep in on the last drive, that probably gets us out to about midfield and then we’re a couple first downs away from being in field-goal range.”

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