Last Saturday’s hilarious meltdown against the San Francisco 49ers may not be Aaron Rodgers’ last game as the Green Bay Packers quarterback after all.
According to a report for Ian Rapoport, Rodgers stayed in Green Bay for a few extra days this week following the team’s exit from the playoffs to map out how the offseason may play out. Per Rapoport, the meetings left those within the organization with cautious optimism that Rodgers will return to Green Bay again in 2022.
“It left those in the organization with confidence moving forward that Rodgers will return for the 2022 season,” Rapoport wrote on Sunday morning. “Cautious optimism was the phrase, per sources, though no one wants to interfere with Rodgers’ process. And Packers decision makers all respect the steps he’ll take to arrive at his eventual decision.”
Last year, Rodgers’ discontent with the franchise was widely known, but it appears the Packers quarterback smoothed things over with Green Bay’s front office over the course of the 2021 season.
“A lot, honestly,” Rodgers said of how much his relationship with the front office improved this year.
In 2021, the Packers restructured Rodgers’ contract to give him a potential out this upcoming offseason. His current cap hit is over $46 million for 2022, and Green Bay could clear almost $20 million of that with a cut or trade.
That matters because the Packers are in a really tough spot when it comes to their salary cap. Current estimates have them around $45 to $50 million over the projected 2022 salary cap, meaning they’re desperate to create some cap room before the start of the new league year in March. Additionally, they have a handful of key players—most notably Davante Adams—who are facing free agency if they are not re-signed. Per Rapoport, the expectation is for Adams to get franchise tagged, but that alone would cost the Packers an estimated $18.5 million in cap room.
The Packers do have some cap casualty options to create some cap space. Releasing Za’Darius Smith would free up over $15 million, Randall Cobb’s cut would add $5.8 million. Preston Smith would add another $12.5 million.
But that’s a lot of sacrificing to keep a 38-year-old Rodgers who has clearly thought about retiring in the past couple years. And for Rodgers, would it even be worth coming back if the Packers—who didn’t win a playoff game this year—had to part with so many key players from 2021?