Aaron Rodgers, Packers near agreement for return that could pave way for departure in 2022

The Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers are nearing an agreement on a reworked deal that will keep the quarterback in Green Bay for the 2021 season, per NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has confirmed the report. Rodgers is expected to report for camp once the deal has been finalized. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds that the deal will void the 2023 season from Rodgers’ current contract and the franchise tag may not be used in future years. Green Bay also agrees to review his situation following the upcoming campaign, which could lead to his speculated departure. CBS Sports’ Joel Corry notes that by voiding the 2023 season, Green Bay is committing to trade him or redoing his deal. Otherwise, the NFC franchise would be allowing him walk in free agency for a third-round compensatory selection. The agreement also allows the Packers to potentially mend some fences with the veteran over the next year and certainly evaluate 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love longer.

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Rapoport first reported the news that Rodgers could be returning soon Monday, right after Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst publicly recommitted to the QB, indicating that Rodgers has told people close to him he intends to play for the Packers this year. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones had also reported Monday that Rodgers is likely to report to Packers training camp this week, though perhaps not on the opening day, and is expected to play for the team in 2021. 

Jones also confirmed an earlier report from Trey Wingo claiming that Rodgers asked for the team to bring back wide receiver Randall Cobb, who is currently employed by the Texans. Houston’s trade for wide receiver Anthony Miller may have been a precursor to Cobb’s eventual trade.

“The ice may be thawing,” NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo added. “The Packers’ brass had an optimistic tone today (at a shareholders meeting) and there’s reason to believe them.”

This represents a significant change of heart for Rodgers, who had avoided making any public commitments to the Packers for 2021 or beyond (despite being under contract through the 2023 season). La Canfora reported in June that Rodgers and those close to him had told Packers president Mark Murphy, as well as other team executives, that the QB was finished wearing green and yellow. La Canfora noted at the time, however, that Rodgers had yet to make a final decision on his status for the 2021 season, and was instead content to watch the Packers “squirm” while he held out of mandatory minicamp.

“We have been working tirelessly with Aaron and his representatives to resolve the issues he raised this offseason and we remain hopeful for a positive resolution,” Gutekunst said Monday at the Packers’ annual shareholders meeting.

“We want him back,” Murphy added of Rodgers. “We’re committed to him for 2021 and beyond. We’re looking forward to winning another Super Bowl with him.”

Rodgers never explicitly demanded a trade from the Packers, or even a new contract, reportedly recently turning down a two-year extension that would’ve tied him to Green Bay for another five seasons. He hinted that his Packers future was uncertain, however, after the team’s second straight NFC Championship Game loss in January, then indicated in media appearances he had a “philosophical” difference with Green Bay’s front office.

CBS Sports’ Chris Towers looked at today’s news from a fantasy perspective:

What does this mean for Fantasy? Well, the gang’s back together, for 2021 at least! Adams is locked in as the No. 1 WR for Fantasy now that Rodgers is back in the fold, and Aaron Jones belongs in the top 10 among all RB — and you can make a good case he deserves to be even higher than that. He’s a perfectly viable first-round pick after scoring 30 touchdowns over the last two seasons and averaging 1,094 rushing yards and 48 catches in that span.   

The reigning MVP returns for his 17th NFL season in an NFC that sets up well for a potential Super Bowl run. Rodgers opens the season No. 11 in the league’s all-time career passing yards leaderboard, just 230 yards behind John Elway. Green Bay opens the season Sep. 12 on the road against the Drew Brees-less Saints.