Packers' leaders unified on wanting Rodgers back

GREEN BAY, Wis. — It’s not only Matt LaFleur who wants Aaron Rodgers back as the Green Bay Packers quarterback next season. The coach said it’s unanimous among the organization’s top decisions makers.

While LaFleur said after Saturday’s 13-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC divisional playoff round that “we’d be crazy not to want him back here,” it was not clear if he was speaking only for himself or also on behalf of team president Mark Murphy, general manager Brian Gutekunst and director of football operations Russ Ball.

“Every conversation that I’ve been involved in with Gutey and Russ and Mark, we’re all on the same page there,” LaFleur said Monday. “There’s no debate.”

LaFleur addressed a variety of subjects — from the early playoff exit to the plan for fixing their special teams to bringing back Davante Adams to the health of All Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari — but a large part of his 43-minute news conference to wrap up the season was spent on Rodgers’ future with the Packers. LaFleur said he met with Rodgers on Monday, and although he wouldn’t reveal any details from that conversation, he said he won’t rush Rodgers into a decision.

“I want to be respectful of his process,” LaFleur said. “Whatever he needs to go through to make the best decision for himself, and certainly we would love for him to be a Packer and be a Packer to the day he decides to retire.”

The big what-if, however, is what if Rodgers doesn’t want to play for the Packers again, doesn’t want to retire and wants to play for another team?

“I haven’t even been part of any of those discussions, nor have I — like I said last year — allowed my mind to kind of get to that point,” LaFleur said. “I just want to do everything in our power to try to get him back here and making sure he’s comfortable with the direction of our football team, and confident that we can continue to have success here, and try to find a way to get us kind of over that hump so we can reach further and further and further.”

A return to the Packers would almost certainly require a contract restructuring or extension for Rodgers to reduce his cap number. But given that they are $44.8 million over their projected cap for the 2022 season, it might be difficult to retain key players, including free agent receiver Davante Adams.

It’s no doubt why Rodgers said Saturday that he doesn’t want to be part of a rebuild at this stage of his career.

“There’s no plan for a rebuild,” LaFleur said. “You get this close, obviously win a lot of football games, and we know in order for there not to be that, he’s gotta be a part of this thing. I don’t think that’s anybody’s intention.”

Rodgers did not speak to reporters on Monday, when players held their exit interviews, but that is not unusual. He is expected to make at least one more of his regular appearances on The Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday.

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