GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers wants to think it over for a while before the four-time MVP decides whether he wants to return to the Green Bay Packers for a 19th season.
The 39-year-old quarterback also noted the choice isn’t solely his to make. The Packers have to want him back.
“I think to assume it’s a foregone conclusion would be probably slightly egotistical,” Rodgers said Sunday night regarding the Packers’ interest in his return. “But I’m going to be a realist here and understand that there’s a lot of different parts to this.”
Rodgers’ future is the biggest issue facing the Packers (8-9) as they move forward now that a 20-16 loss to the Detroit Lions has kept them out of the playoffs to end a string of three straight postseason berths.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur said after Sunday night’s game that he “absolutely” wants Rodgers back.
Rodgers didn’t approach the MVP form of his 2020 and 2021 seasons. His 12 interceptions — he threw only 13 combined from 2019-21 — were one off the career high he set as a first-year starter in 2008. His passer rating was the lowest of his career.
“I think there were a lot of variables in play this year,” LaFleur said Monday. “I really do. And sure, are there some things that he could’ve done better? Absolutely. Just like there are some things that I know I could’ve done better and you can go right down the line to every coach, to every player.”
Rodgers played much of the season with a broken right thumb and injured his ribs during a Nov. 27 loss at Philadelphia. If Rodgers isn’t back, the Packers likely would turn to 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love, who has just one career start but performed well in relief of an injured Rodgers in the Eagles game.
After Sunday’s game, Rodgers discussed factors he’d consider.
“Do I feel like I have anything left to prove to myself?” Rodgers said. “Do I want to go back and gear up for another grind? Or is it time? Is it time to step away? Is it time for another voice to be leading this team? I think I need to get away and contemplate those things, and those are real to me, and I have a lot of pride in what I’ve accomplished in this league, but I’m also a realist and I understand where we’re at as a team.
“We’re a young team. There could be some changes with some of the older guys and it could be time to step away. But I could take some time and say, ‘Hell no, I need to get back out there and go on another run.’ But I’ll have to see what it feels like once I’m away from it.”
RED ZONE ISSUES
The Packers lost both their games with the Lions because of red zone struggles that hurt them all season. Green Bay scored touchdowns on just 11 of its 22 goal-to-go situations, the worst percentage of any NFL team and the lowest for any Packers squad since 2006.
Rodgers’ issues this season were in part because of the absence of two-time All-Pro selection Davante Adams, who was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Adams could have solved some of those red zone issues. He had a combined 18 touchdown catches in goal-to-go situations in 2020-21.
“We didn’t fill that void, and I mean nobody can,” Rodgers said. “He’s super human. He’s phenomenal. But there was hope in certain things that were going to fill that void, and ultimately that just didn’t happen.”
Green Bay’s rookie class had a notable season in plenty of respects.
The Packers used their top pick on Georgia linebacker Quay Walker, who showed plenty of promise but got ejected for the second time this season Sunday when he shoved Lions team physician Sean Lynch, who was attending to an injured player.
Walker apologized for the incident Monday. Defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt, the Packers’ other first-round pick, appeared to bump Lynch as well but wasn’t penalized.
Second-round pick Christian Watson finished his rookie season with seven touchdown catches and two touchdown runs. Offensive lineman and fourth-round pick Zach Tom showcased his versatility Sunday by stepping in for right tackle Yosh Nijman, who struggled while playing through a shoulder injury.
The Packers won three of their first four games, then lost five straight and eventually fell to 4-8.
The regained control of their postseason fate by winning four consecutive games, only to come up short in their season finale.
“We’re not where we expected to be," LaFleur said. “So in that regard, it’s a complete failure. And that’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Rodgers isn’t the only Packers veteran facing an uncertain future. Green Bay’s list of pending free agents includes safety Adrian Amos, receivers Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard, kicker Mason Crosby, tight ends Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis, defensive linemen Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed and cornerback/kick returner Keisean Nixon among others.
LaFleur said he doesn’t anticipate making any changes to his staff while noting it’s a fluid situation.
“It’s my intention to try to have everybody back,” LaFleur said. “I think continuity is a big part of having success in this league.”
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