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Did Aaron Rodgers play his last game with the Packers? For any team? Now we wait

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers wrapped his right arm around Randall Cobb‘s neck as Cobb wrapped his left arm around his quarterback’s waist, the two best friends leaving the field they’ve called together for so long, this time possibly the last.

In a hallway adjacent to the main Packers locker room area shortly after, Rodgers shared a long hug with another dear friend, left tackle. David Bakhtiaribefore the two split up.

Rodgers, interviewed in the field by the Lions rookie wide receiver jameson williams for his jersey after the game, he said he wanted to keep it and later explained that there were “certain special ones” that he doesn’t like to trade with opponents.

“It’s a night game, Lambeau, Week 18,” Rodgers said. “There are just certain jerseys that you like to hang on to, like playing Chicago or the big games on Sunday evening. It’s just a little different. It’s not keeping it. It’s cool to give to someone you really love.

And Rodgers, when asked what he would miss most if he decided to hang up his boots in the coming months, paused for 10 seconds while sipping a bottle of water on the podium before making out six journalists who covered it for the majority. . of his career and becomes visibly emotional.

“I’m going to miss the guys,” he said. “I will miss the fans.”

Then he left.

The Packers drafted Rodgers, 39, with the No. 24 pick in 2005. He’s been their starting quarterback since 2008, a four-time league MVP and Super Bowl champion. As after the end of last season, Rodgers’ future is uncertain. He has two seasons left on a contract extension. He signed last offseason for $58.3 million, guaranteed if he plays.

The scenes at Lambeau Field after Rodgers and the Packers fell apart in a win-win game would make you think that’s it for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but no one really knows if that’s the case. Rodgers completed 17 of 27 passes for 205 yards, a touchdown and an interception, another lackluster performance compared to those we’ve seen from No. 12 in recent years in a season littered with injuries, a diminished supporting cast and its own regression.

What Rodgers said next 20-16 season-ending loss on Sunday to the Lions sounded like he said after last season’s playoff loss to the 49ers in the same stadium. He’ll take enough time to decide the season isn’t driven by the raw emotion of another untimely end, but he won’t hold the organization hostage.

“It’s a feeling,” Rodgers said. “Do I feel like I have something left to prove to myself? Do I want to go back and prepare for another grind? Or is it time? Is it time to walk away? Is it time for another voice to lead this team? I think I need to step away and contemplate these things. These are real to me. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished in this league, but I’m also realistic and understand where we are as a team. We are a young team. There might be changes with some of the older guys and it might be time to step away. But I could take a little time and say, “No, man. I have to go back there and do another run. But I’ll have to see how it feels once I get away from it.

Rodgers has previously said he doesn’t want to come out as a “tramp.” When asked on Sunday if the way this season ended and the way he played could push him back, he said ‘not really’ before saying he’s very proud of what he has. accomplished in the NFL and that “it doesn’t always end with rainbows for everyone”. If he comes out that way, Rodgers doesn’t think he’ll be like a tramp, anyway. When asked if he felt he still had it, Rodgers answered unequivocally in the affirmative.

The first thing he mentioned after that answer: losing the wide receiver Davante Adams and the inability to fill the void that remained. Even so, Rodgers may not have the chance to make it work in Year 2 with promising young receivers. Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs even though he wants to play his 19th year for the Packers.

Rodgers has hinted before that the Packers might not want him, which he did again on Sunday night saying he doesn’t think the decision to return will be his after a season in which he played with a broken right thumb while dipping well below. his MVP performance level of the past two years.

“I think a lot of times, and I’ve said this throughout my tenure here, the quarterback is going to be blamed the most when you’re not successful, and a lot of other times when you’re successful. , they’ll get too much praise,” head coach Matt LaFleur said. our staff. I think we all collectively need to do a better job, period.

General manager Brian Gutekunst traded in quarterback draft Jordan love In the first round in 2020, Love has sat behind Rodgers for the past three seasons. Gutekunst said at a press conference during the Packers’ Week 14 bye that he doesn’t need to see any more playing action from Love before making a decision on his fifth option. year this coming offseason, but it’s unclear if the GM thinks Love is fit to be the next starting quarterback in Green Bay whenever Rodgers leaves.

Rodgers was asked on Sunday if Love was ready to be his successor.

“You don’t know you’re ready until you’re in that position,” Rodgers said. “I remember the day I was sleeping in San Diego and woke up with 50 text messages that Brett (Favre) took down. Then the emotions hit you. ‘Oh man, now I’m the guy.’ go out there and find your groove with leadership and withstand the first year of different defenses throwing things at you and all the pressure that comes with everything But I think he’s done a good job of improving , working on the little things, doing a good job in training, I think he has a chance to have a long future in the league.

Rodgers also hasn’t entirely ruled out playing for another team if the Packers want to trade him, although he again put off any decision on his future after the emotional well dried up. Making finances work for a trade from a Green Bay perspective is a whole different story.

Last year, Rodgers’ decision to return became public knowledge on March 8. The contract he signed was for three years, but Rodgers said at the start of training camp that it was basically a one-year deal with two other ties and that he would reassess… his future again after the 2022 season.

“He’s my brother,” Cobb said of Rodgers. He’s the man who stood up at my wedding. He is the godfather of one of my children. It is much more important than football for us. Obviously, we had a lot of moments together. We spent many years together on this team in Green Bay here. We’ll see where life takes us.

All Packers and anyone following Rodgers’ decision can’t wait. It may seem like Sunday night was his farewell, but that has been the case for the past few seasons as well. It could very well be, but as Rodgers has said in the past, he could also play even longer than just one more season.

In other words, the one thing certain after Rodgers emotionally left the podium on Sunday night is that we don’t know much about Rodgers’ future.

“At some point the carousel stops and it’s time to get off, and I think you kind of know when that is,” Rodgers said. And that’s what you have to consider. It’s time? Also, what does the organization do? That’s part of it too. But the competitive fire will always be there. I don’t think it will ever go away. Sometimes it gets transferred, I think, to other things that may never fill that big void, but like I said I feel good about what I’ve achieved in this league and I don’t would have no regrets leaving. But I have to see what it feels like once I get away from it.

(Photo by Aaron Rodgers: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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