The Aaron Rodgers situation is somewhat settled for the immediate future, with the star quarterback at training camp and set to play the 2021 season. General manager Brian Gutekunst and the Green Bay Packers still have to figuring things out all over again next offseason.
Rodgers’ issues with the front office have been compounding, dating back years now. The most glaring move that really set the wheels in motion for a potential breakup came at the 2020 NFL Draft, when the team traded up in the first round to draft quarterback Jordan Love.
Rodgers wasn’t shy about his thoughts on the move afterwards, especially when the Packers were heavily rumored to be interested in one of the many first-round wide receivers in the field. Among the most glaring parts of the situation was that Rodgers, arguably the greatest player in Packers history, was not informed beforehand that the team could take a quarterback.
Gutekunst, who seems to be the target of Rodgers’ ire over the last year, was asked if he regrets how that part of things was handled. Somewhat surprisingly, he acknowledged it, saying he wishes the team had communicated better with Rodgers ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Brian Gutekunst admitted the one thing he probably regrets about last year’s draft is the communication, presumably with Aaron Rodgers before the Jordan Love pick. “It happens fast. Looking back there could have been some communication things we did… https://t.co/dB3uchUTN0
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) April 30, 2021
He was asked a similar question in February, after the Packers lost in the NFC Championship to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and said that he didn’t regret taking Love—who failed to crack the two-deep last season—rather than a player who could help them win immediately. That isn’t exactly the same thing he was asked here, but with how Rodgers has reacted, Gutekunst acknowledges that things could have been handled better.
Brian Gutekunst when asked if he regrets how he approached the 2020 draft and taking a 1st round pick in Jordan Love that didn’t play a snap in the NFC Championship game.
“Don’t look at it that way. No regrets looking back at the draft.” pic.twitter.com/GdAeDwXMb5
— George Balekji (@GeorgeBalekji) February 1, 2021
Overall, though, Gutekunst isn’t now concerned about the direction of the franchise. From NFL.com on Thursday:
“I wouldn’t say I have any regrets. Obviously, this is a hard business. This is a tough business,” the general manager said. “When it comes to an end for any player, I don’t think it usually goes well, I don’t think they usually feel good about it. We are always very sensitive to what those players have given this organization, and when we go through that, it’s always with class and dignity. But again, it’s a hard business.
“Sometimes, we, the Packers, may take the brunt of what is the NFL business. While those decisions are hard, they have to be made for the team to grow. Keeping players longer than maybe we should, all of a sudden we’re not signing guys we should later down the road. It’s a domino effect, and it’s hard on players. Players should have those feelings. It’s hard, and you play as long as Aaron has, you’re going to see a lot of that.”
The Green Bay Packers could be entering the final year with Aaron Rodgers, whose reworked contract opens the door for the team to move on ahead of next year, or for him to leave with the 2023 season waived from his deal. Given that the team may be in more clear “win now” mode than any other team in the NFL, a decade removed from their last Super Bowl, it’s hard not to wonder if the GM secretly wishes he had done something else with that 2020 pick.