Aaron Rodgers declined Packers' contract extension offer

Ryan Wood
Packers News
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GREEN BAY -  In an attempt to mend their relationship with Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers offered a contract extension this offseason that would have tied the quarterback to the team for the next five seasons, multiple people with knowledge of the discussions confirmed to the USA TODAY Network. The people spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks.

Ultimately, Rodgers did not accept the offer.

The offer was not made immediately after Rodgers’ third MVP season, but rather after it became apparent the relationship between team and quarterback was fractured, one person with knowledge of the offer told the USA TODAY Network. It was believed the Packers’ initial hesitancy to make any meaningful alterations to Rodgers’ contract after the season only exacerbated the quarterback’s frustrations. 

But the Packers regrouped to offer an extension that would expire after Rodgers' age-42 season, multiple people familiar with the situation said. The team’s offer was first reported Tuesday by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

Rodgers has three years left on the four-year, $134 million extension he signed midway through training camp in 2018. At the time, the deal made Rodgers the highest-paid player in NFL history. He since has been surpassed by four quarterbacks, headlined by Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes’ 10-year, $450 million deal. 

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) pitches the ball against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday, October 5, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

At $33.5 million annually, Rodgers now is tied with Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff for fifth-highest paid player in the league. 

The Packers were willing to make Rodgers the highest-paid player in the league, one person with knowledge of the situation said, but their offer did not start there. Multiple people familiar with the talks said the Packers initially offered to restructure the remaining three years on Rodgers’ deal. It is uncertain how much money would have been guaranteed in those three years, but the purpose of the restructure was to provide more security that Rodgers would be the Packers' long-term starter after drafting Jordan Love in the first round last season. When Rodgers rebuffed that offer, the Packers returned with the extension.

Rodgers' frustration with the Packers are believed to be deeper than financial. In an interview with ESPN "SportsCenter" host Kenny Mayne, Rodgers indicated his rift with the team was more personal in nature.

"I think sometimes people forget what really makes an organization," Rodgers said. "History is important, legacy of so many people who've come before you, but the people. That's the most important thing. The people make the organization. The people make the business. Sometimes that gets forgotten. Culture is built brick by brick, the foundation of it by the people. Not by the organization, not by the building, not by the corporation. It's built by the people.

"I've been fortunate enough to play with a number of amazing, amazing people, and got to work for some amazing people as well. And it's those people that build the foundation of those entities. I think sometimes we forget that, you know."

Rodgers said his issue with the team had nothing to do with drafting Love as his potential successor. However, he acknowledged his MVP season coming on the wings of drafting Love complicated matters.

"A lot of this was put into motion last year," Rodgers told Mayne, "and the wrench was just kind of thrown into it when I won MVP and played the way I played last year. So this is just kind of a spill out of all that, but it is about the people. That's the most important thing."

The Packers have continually left the door open for a Rodgers return this offseason. After news of Rodgers' fissure with the team became public on draft day, general manager Brian Gutekunst said he would not trade the quarterback under any circumstances. Team president/CEO Mark Murphy, Gutekunst and coach Matt LaFleur made separate trips to visit Rodgers out west in an attempt to woo him back.

Instead, Rodgers skipped voluntary organized team activities for the first time in his career. Then he skipped mandatory minicamp. It is unclear whether the Packers excused Rodgers' absence, but that is an option the team has available.

The Packers open training camp next week. Their first practice is July 28. Veteran players are scheduled to report a day earlier.

It's uncertain whether Rodgers will be among them.

"I do think he'll play for us again," Gutekunst said on draft day. "We're going to work towards that, and we've been working towards that on a number of different fronts. The value that he has for our football team is really immeasurable, you know what I mean? He brings so much to the table, not only as a player but a leader, so important to his teammates, to his coaches. So, yeah, that's the goal.

"It may take some time, but he's the guy that kinda makes this thing go. He gives us the best chance to win, and we're going to work towards that end."

Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette contributed to this report.

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