Aaron Rodgers jolted the cheesehead-wearing diehards of Green Bay at a low point Sunday evening when he casted doubt on his future.
Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy offered a reason for fans to relax (but not the R-E-L-A-X kind from back in 2014) a day later.
"There's no way in heck Aaron is not gonna be on the Packers," Murphy said Monday during an appearance on WNFL in Green Bay. "He's going to be the MVP of the league, might have had his best year ever, he's our unquestioned leader, and we're not idiots."
Rodgers had just finished an MVP-caliber season and came within eight yards of potentially tying a game that, if won, would've sent him to just his second Super Bowl in his Hall of Fame career. It's fair to think perhaps the emotion of the moment drove him to say his future is also uncertain. After all, he's 37 years old, has just three years remaining on his contract and has his successor sitting on the bench waiting for the veteran to move on.
Rodgers knows this scenario because he was once in the shoes of 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love. A young, longer-haired Rodgers had to quietly wait for Brett Favre to give up the reins, and when it became clear Favre wasn't ready to do so, the organization eventually wrested them from his grasp. With Love waiting and Rodgers' contract moving another year closer to expiration, it has likely made the quarterback think about the bigger picture well before Sunday's game kicked off.
Rodgers still trails Favre in Super Bowl appearances, even though Rodgers' Packers have generally been better over the course of his career than Favre's were. And beyond Favre, no quarterback as excellent as Rodgers -- no competitor, for that matter -- is ever content with one trip to a Super Bowl, especially when you've led a team that has demonstrated it is capable of winning another Lombardi, but just hasn't gotten over the hump.
All of that appeared to come together at once in the expression and words of a despondent Rodgers on Sunday. It's really difficult to get to a conference title game, and after losing two straight, there had to be as much frustration as there was disappointment.
As for Rodgers' contract, it's financially prohibitive for the Packers to do anything but shower the quarterback with praise for a campaign that will likely earn him MVP honors in less than two weeks. Green Bay can't possibly stomach the dead cap number associated with parting with Rodgers until 2022, when it drops to a still significant $17.2 million.
The Packers also don't want to see things end with Rodgers like they did Favre, making for a delicate situation to navigate. Rodgers also acknowledged Tuesday that he doesn't think there's a reason he wouldn't be back in Green Bay next season.
Oh, and the guy just put together an MVP season. His team finished 13-3 and earned the NFC's top seed. They were much closer to a conference title than a year earlier. It's not exactly a combination of factors that would lead one to pull the plug.
Like Murphy said, the Packers aren't idiots. When we revisit this in a few weeks, it'll likely have been nothing more than some pointless hand wringing.