INDIANAPOLIS (BVM) – Following three consecutive 13-win seasons, the Green Bay Packers disappointed in 2022, going just 8-9 and missing the playoffs. Now, the team is searching for answers moving forward as it tries to get back to the postseason in 2023.
The biggest question of the offseason so far, however, is one Packers fans are all too familiar with. Will Aaron Rodgers return in 2023?
Over the past couple of offseasons, Rodgers has contemplated his future, whether that be retirement or playing for another team. In the 2021 offseason, the saga dragged out all the way until the summer. Last year, Rodgers made his decision in early March, returning to the Packers on a three-year, $150 million contract.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) March 15, 2022
Recently away on a darkness retreat in Oregon where he reportedly contemplated his future, Rodgers figures to make a decision on his 2023 plans soon. However, what is different this offseason from the past, is that it seems the Packers might be ready to move in a different direction.
Although he was dealing with a thumb injury among other ailments in 2022, Rodgers had arguably his worst season as a starting quarterback following back-to-back MVP campaigns, throwing for 3,695 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions – the latter of which were the most since his first season as a starter in 2008. His 39.3 quarterback rating also ranked just 26th in the league.
Speaking at the NFL combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst reiterated that the team is still waiting on Rodgers, but that anything could happen going forward.
“He’s a great player, but until we have those conversations, I think all options are on the table,” Gutekunst said. “We need to have those conversations. We want what’s best for the Green Bay Packers, what’s best for him, so we’ll get to that coming up.”
With the scouting combine this week, free agency beginning in about two weeks, and the draft just two months away, the Packers will need a decision from Rodgers soon to be able to move forward. For right now, Gutekunst hasn’t been in touch much with the Packers quarterback of 18 years, but he is going about things as he usually would until a decision is made.
“We’ve exchanged some texts and things like that but we haven’t had a chance to speak yet,” Gutekunst said. “We’re going through our process as normal … Our feelings haven’t changed about Aaron, but we need to have some of those conversations about our team, where it’s going, where he’s at before we go forward.”
If Rodgers and the Packers do part ways, the next question becomes, is Jordan Love ready to take over as Green Bay’s starting quarterback? The 2020 first-round pick’s progression has been a topic of discussion over the past several years in Green Bay, but it seems the Packers are finally comfortable enough with where he is at to move forward.
“I think he’s ready to play and I think he’s ready to be an NFL starting quarterback,” Gutekunst said. “He’s worked really hard, he’s shown a lot of progression. I know he’s really eager and I think that’s the next step in his progression is to play.”
With the Packers staying in playoff contention up until the final week of the regular season in 2022, Green Bay did not get much of a chance to see what they had in Love out on the field, even despite Rodgers dealing with multiple injuries. Love’s most notable game action came in the Packers’ Week 12 road loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in which the Utah State product did look good in relief of an injured Rodgers, completing 6-of-9 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Jordan Love. Christian Watson. One-possession game in Philly 👀
— NFL (@NFL) November 28, 2022
For the Packers, this is an eerily similar situation to one they have been in before. Just 15 years ago, they watched Brett Favre retire – only to eventually unretire and force a trade to the New York Jets – and moved forward with a young Rodgers who had sat behind the Hall of Fame quarterback for three years.
Now, they are waiting to hear exactly what their current quarterback will do again as they consider going forward with another young guy who has also sat behind a future Hall of Famer for the past three seasons.
It will be an interesting situation to continue to watch play out, but regardless of what happens, Gutekunst and the organization are set on moving forward. Last season wasn’t what anyone in the organization wanted, but whether it’s Rodgers or Love in 2023, the Packers are focused on getting better.
“I think regardless of the outcome of the season, we switch pretty quick into moving forward,” Gutekunst said. “Last season was frustrating, it wasn’t at all what we anticipated or wanted, but every year, no matter the outcome, we move pretty quickly into the next season.”