The future of the Green Bay Packers remains a beautiful mystery. But for at least one more season, the reigning NFC North champs have all the pieces in place to make another deep playoff run.
Things have cooled after an offseason of rumors and a high-profile spat between NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and the team brass. But boiling under the surface remains the red-hot question about the long-term viability of how the club is constructed with Rodgers under center.
Those unknowns about the future could add pressure to the 2021 campaign, making those within the building feel like this team must finish the job if it's genuinely Green Bay's "Last Dance" with this core.
However, Rodgers doesn't see it as pressure at all.
"I'm speaking personally and I can't speak for everybody," Rodgers said Wednesday, via the Associated Press. "But the feeling that I get with the energy in the locker room is not pressure. It's focus. I think it's the right perspective and the right type of focus. We know we have a talented team. We know what the expectations are."
Not only could 2022 bring about the end to the Rodgers-era in Green Bay, but several other key players also have their future in question. Star receiver Davante Adams is a free agent after this year (barring being slapped with the franchise tag) and noted this week there is no chance a long-term contract gets done before the season. Fellow wideouts Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling and tight end Robert Tonyan are on expiring deals. And that's just on offense.
The lingering questions about whether a breakup of the current core could be in the future have provided the impetus for the 2021 Packers to get back to the Super Bowl finally.
"This is probably the hungriest team that I've ever been around, honestly, just because we have been so close a number of times now," Adams said.
After back-to-back losses in the NFC Championship, the sense of urgency is for the Packers not just to win the division or a couple of playoff games but lift the Lombardi Trophy for the second time in Rodgers' career.
"We're just focusing on accountability and holding each other accountable because regardless of what happens with any of our situations, this group will not be together the way it is now in years down the line," Rodgers said. "So we're going to enjoy this year for all that it has to offer, and each other, and I think that's the right perspective to have when you get in this situation."
If the Packers truly enjoy this year, it will end in L.A. in February. Then another offseason of questions can kickstart with confetti as a backdrop.