It appears Aaron Rodgers' long offseason of frustration with the Green Bay Packers will end back where it began: with the reigning AP NFL Most Valuable Player under center for the green and gold.
Rodgers has indicated to people close to him that he does plan to play for the Packers this season, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday, per sources.
This was the expected outcome all along, given the team's unwillingness to trade Rodgers and the 37-year-old not looking to retire, but there is now optimism amid recent contract negotiations that he'll report to training camp Tuesday, Rapoport added.
Packers CEO Mark Murphy cautioned during a Monday press conference that he doesn't know if or when his all-world quarterback will show up. He also acknowledged the Packers have gotten calls about Rodgers, but asserted that there's "absolutely" no scenario in which they'd part with him.
"We've been very clear we're not trading him," Murphy reiterated.
All discussions have been focused on reaching an agreement with Rodgers, an initiative the front office is feeling better about as the season nears. The shift in tone between the two sides is the result of ramped up communication, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported.
"We have been working tirelessly with Aaron and his representatives to resolve the issues he raised this offseason, and we remain hopeful for a positive resolution," general manager Brian Gutekunst said earlier Monday at the team's annual shareholders meeting at Lambeau Field.
Green Bay's offers to the nine-time Pro Bowler have included guarantees beyond this season and triggers that would further lock him in with the only pro team he's ever known, Garafolo added. Rodgers has three years remaining on his current deal but no guaranteed money. It's an issue that he raised shortly after performing at a peak level in his 16th season, and there was the possibility of an extension being reached in April before negotiations stalled, per Garafolo.
The Rodgers saga has featured surprisingly few plot twists and a lot of silence since then. But on the eve of camp, Murphy provided the loudest statement yet.
"We want him back," he said. "We're committed to him for 2021 and beyond. We're looking forward to winning another Super Bowl with him."
Not trading up to draft Jordan Love in the first round in 2020 probably would have paved a smoother path toward this destination. It's the decision that engendered the strongest feelings of frustration and mistrust for Rodgers, Rapoport noted. But all will be forgiven if the longtime face of the franchise ultimately stays home.
"Obviously it's been a challenging situation with Aaron and us," Murphy said. "But let's not forget all the amazing things Aaron has done for this organization. He's a phenomenal talent and we're happy to have him."