Aaron Rodgers discovered readability Tuesday — and reportedly a big mound of recent cash. The four-time MVP quarterback has determined to proceed enjoying with the Inexperienced Bay Packers.
Phrases of Rodgers’ settlement to remain in Inexperienced Bay stay unclear. An NFL Community report Tuesday morning indicated he signed an eye-popping four-year contract extension price as much as $200 million with $153 million assured. However Rodgers later tweeted that whereas he had determined to stay a Packer, the numbers connected to reviews about his contract have been faulty.
In time, precise figures and contract phrases will floor. Within the meantime, an important a part of the story is about: Rodgers will likely be again with the Packers for the 2022 season.
Rodgers will flip 39 in December, however he has gained the final two MVP awards and located a satisfying groove working with Packers coach Matt LaFleur. He’s additionally set as much as proceed his dominance within the NFC North with the opposite three groups within the midst of great transitions.
So what does all this imply? How will Rodgers’ contract have an effect on the Packers’ capability to assemble a Tremendous Bowl-contending roster? What are the ramifications on the wage cap? What’s subsequent for star receiver Davante Adams?
And most necessary in these components, what does this imply for the Chicago Bears and their bounce-back efforts beneath new basic supervisor Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus?
Tribune Bears writers Dan Wiederer and Colleen Kane banter forwards and backwards on this installment of “Actual Speak.”
Dan Wiederer: Two weeks in the past, Rodgers was turning heads on Instagram with a 10-photo publish and 266-word caption that confused many.
“To my teammates, previous and present,” he wrote partially, “you’re the icing on the attractive cake we name our job: soccer. the friendships that we’ve will transcend our collective time on this sport and I’m so grateful for the function that every of you’ve gotten performed in making my life that a lot better. I like you guys, and cherish the reminiscences we’ve made.”
Was Rodgers sending a cryptic message that he was about to show the web page and begin a brand new chapter in his soccer journey? Was he merely casting a baited hook for outdoor consideration? Was this honest reflection from one of many NFL’s biggest gamers? Or simply some unusual melodrama previous a landmark determination?
Because it seems, in accordance with Rodgers’ rationalization on “The Pat McAfee Present” a day later, he was merely rising from a 12-day panchakarma cleanse and feeling recentered spiritually.
Stated Rodgers: “Until you’ve gone by means of sure experiences and had frustration and been close to the underside after which get close to the highest and perceive the wonder in life, you then would possibly say issues about that. ‘That’s a cryptic message.’ There’s nothing cryptic about gratitude. … That was simply the place I used to be at. I used to be going by means of some previous footage from the final yr and felt an intense quantity of gratitude for the life that I’ve, for the teachings that I’ve realized and the expansion that has occurred over the past yr and the individuals who have been part of that journey.”
Two weeks later, there aren’t any Insta-missives, no pictures and no podcast appearances to learn between the strains. Rodgers is staying put. Confirmed. Again to Inexperienced Bay and desirous to make a run at Tremendous Bowl LVII after his final three seasons ended with heartbreaking playoff losses.
The Packers have been going through a $46.1 million salary-cap hit on Rodgers’ contract for 2022. No matter new phrases have been agreed to Tuesday, there’s a robust probability that cap hit will likely be decreased considerably. However the Packers are nonetheless in an uncomfortable squeeze towards the cap as the brand new league yr closes in.
Thus Tuesday’s landmark transfer to increase Rodgers will power basic supervisor Brian Gutekunst to make vital cuts elsewhere, particularly with the crew intent on additionally preserving Adams. Now what?
Colleen Kane: Now the Packers can transfer ahead with out the offseason drama that surrounded Rodgers’ standing for months final yr. We within the media can transfer on with out monitoring Rodgers’ each look on “The Pat McAfee Present,” which drew greater than 136,000 viewers the morning after his aforementioned Instagram publish. And I can by no means Google “panchakarma cleanse” once more, although the main points are seared in my thoughts anyway.
Gutekunst and LaFleur did what was wanted to steer Rodgers to remain in Inexperienced Bay after he expressed discontent along with his state of affairs there final spring.
Rodgers has mentioned greater than as soon as that his relationship and communication with Gutekunst have improved over the previous yr. The Packers employed Rodgers’ former quarterbacks coach, Tom Clements, as a measure to please the QB. They usually additionally positioned the franchise tag on Adams, who has amassed 8,121 receiving yards whereas enjoying with Rodgers since 2014.
The result’s that, even with work to do on the roster within the weeks forward, the Packers transfer towards the 2022 season with consolation that they are going to be favored to win the NFC North for the fourth yr in a row. Would something, wanting an abrupt change of coronary heart from Rodgers, change that as free company begins? In all probability not, although Rodgers is returning to chase a Tremendous Bowl, not only a division title over a bunch of groups in flux.
Wiederer: Consolation in being the NFC North favourite will go solely thus far with Rodgers, who admittedly enjoys his dominance over the Bears however wants one other Tremendous Bowl trophy so as to add sheen to his legacy. For the Packers to play into February subsequent winter, they must deal with their enterprise all through your entire NFC. However they could have a gap to just do that.
Tom Brady’s retirement — for now — ought to reduce the diploma of issue in competing for convention supremacy. Russell Wilson’s departure from the NFC in Tuesday’s blockbuster commerce between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos isn’t a foul factor both.
Make a listing of the elite quarterbacks within the NFC. Rodgers is on the prime. Matthew Stafford belongs within the dialog. However past that? An argument may maybe be made for Dak Prescott and possibly Kyler Murray and Matt Ryan. However this isn’t the AFC, the place the fraternity of star quarterbacks — Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Wilson — is spectacular.
Amid that panorama, it’s on Rodgers to hold the Packers farther than he has previously decade. And he might need to take action with a weaker roster round him because the group figures out its salary-cap points. When Tuesday started, the Packers have been near $25 million over the cap with hopes of creating Adams the sport’s highest-paid receiver as they negotiate a brand new deal.
Outdoors linebacker Za’Darius Smith ought to maintain his cellphone close by within the subsequent week. Defensive lineman Kenny Clark is likely to be going through a contract restructuring. The Packers face robust enterprise choices with gamers reminiscent of receiver Randall Cobb.
Gutekunst’s creativity will likely be examined. However the Packers, particularly with Rodgers’ return, are in a positive place. They’re outfitted to win one other division title and make a run on the huge prize. About two dozen GMs across the league would pay to have Gutekunst’s complications.
Kane: For certain they might. And that’s a very good transition to the crew Rodgers will proceed to attempt to “personal” two instances a yr.
On the danger of creating Bears followers click on away in disgust, listed below are the stats once more. Rodgers is 23-5 towards the Bears in his profession, together with six consecutive wins. The Packers have gained 11 of the final 12 towards the Bears, one among which Rodgers didn’t play.
And now he’s on board for not less than yet one more yr to attempt to make the current rivalry much more lopsided. So within the quick time period, Rodgers’ return to Inexperienced Bay is in fact unhealthy information for the Bears and Eberflus as he installs a brand new protection in Chicago.
However the reality is the Bears’ 2022 outlook was unsure anyway as Poles retools a roster with greater than two dozen gamers set to change into free brokers subsequent week.
Constructing the roster into what Poles envisions will take time. Identical goes for putting in the tradition Eberflus believes in. And there will likely be extra development forward for quarterback Justin Fields as he settles in beneath new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.
So the Bears have extra urgent worries attempting to revive a franchise that has been caught within the mud for a lot of the final decade. If they’ll achieve this, then they’ll fear about beating Rodgers — if he’s nonetheless round.
Wiederer: I’ll make the argument that Rodgers staying in Inexperienced Bay is the most effective factor for the Bears. And I’ll make that case with gusto.
Hear me out. Poles has been speaking so much over the previous month-plus concerning the want for the group to lift its requirements. And nothing is extra necessary to establishing elevated requirements than setting a excessive bar to clear. Rodgers does that.
You simply rattled off the sobering statistics within the rivalry with Rodgers, which give the Bears a double dose of actuality each time the groups meet. Most of the time, Bears-Packers video games change into a semiannual illumination of simply how removed from championship competition the Bears are.
If Rodgers had left Inexperienced Bay? If the NFC North was abruptly huge open? The Bears may simply have fooled themselves into considering they’re nearer to changing into a title challenger than they are surely.
Give it some thought. In 2020, the NFL expanded its playoff area, permitting two extra groups into the postseason social gathering. The Bears, regardless of a maddening season and a mediocre 8-8 document that included two losses to Rodgers and the Packers, sneaked within the again door of the NFC playoffs with the No. 7 seed.
An important leaders of the franchise — the chairman, the president, the GM and the coach — had the impression that they had achieved one thing significant. They hadn’t. That playoff berth was idiot’s gold, an undeserved reward that left the group in denial about a few of its biggest flaws. The Bears can’t accept that sort of existence.
With Rodgers nonetheless within the driver’s seat in Inexperienced Bay, the Packers will proceed to problem the Bears at a excessive degree. And it’s the sort of problem Poles appears to covet. Don’t neglect, he’s coming from a franchise in Kansas Metropolis that has performed on convention championship Sunday in 4 consecutive seasons whereas reaching the Tremendous Bowl twice and successful it as soon as.
Poles is aware of what a championship soccer crew seems like. Nice soccer groups desire a excessive bar to clear. In that manner, Rodgers’ presence stays helpful.
Kane: I see your level — to a degree.
Success towards a Rodgers-led Packers crew can be extra significant and satisfying than beating the Jordan Love-led Packers. It will present the Bears a extra correct measuring stick of the place they stand.
However I additionally suppose the Bears and their followers would get pleasure from a win over the Packers regardless of the way it got here. And Bears followers would possibly discover it onerous to understand the excessive bar Rodgers units if they’ve to look at him accomplish his purpose of successful one other Tremendous Bowl with the Packers.
One factor we undoubtedly agree on: Rodgers’ return makes life harder for the Bears. And way more attention-grabbing too.