Green Bay Packers betting big on Gutekunst after Aaron Rodgers’ Last Dance

There were some fast and furious developments in the Aaron Rodgers saga on Monday, July 26. First, Green Bay Packers CEO Mark Murphy told fans at the annual shareholders meeting that the team is committed to Rodgers in “2021 and beyond.” Then a short time later, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported, “Rodgers has indicated to people close to him that he does plan to play for [the Packers] this season.” And where does Brian Gutekunst fit into all of this?

What is next in line for Rodgers and the Packers?

Packers players are set to report to training camp on July 27. If Rodgers is among them, what a reversal it will be from last week, when many believed he might even retire rather than play one more season for the team that drafted him.

So what’s going on here? Here is my educated hunch: Rodgers is still unhappy with the Packers and general manager Brian Gutekunst. But he’s resigned to the fact that his options for 2021 are to play for Green Bay or no one.

Jordan Love was drafted to replace him someday. The Packers wanted that day to be in 2022. That is their right. But it’s also Rodgers’ right to feel slighted after winning a Super Bowl and three MVPs. That’s why Monday’s meeting/pep rally at Lambeau Field seemed as though it was directed as much at Rodgers as the assembled shareholders.

There was a lot of love for No. 12, with Murphy going out of his way to highlight all the contributions Rodgers has made to the franchise. Furthermore, according to on-the-ground reporters, Gutekunst said:

“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.”

2021 may be the Last Dance for Rodgers and Davante Adams

The scenario that made the most sense all along makes the most sense now — this will be Rodgers’ final year (or Last Dance, if you will) with the Packers. Rodgers and Davante Adams, who has his own issues with the Packers’ front office, posted identical pictures of late-stage Bulls Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on social media, suggesting that this is Rodgers and Adams’ Last Dance together.

In return for one more year of service, Green Bay will presumably be open to trading Rodgers to the team of his choice next offseason. That would clear the way for Love and give the Packers the next 13 months to prepare for that changing of the guard.

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Are the Packers choosing Gutekunst’s side?

There is one more point that we found revealing Monday. The Packers are doubling down on the bet that their future is better with Gutekunst than with Rodgers. If they had to pick sides — and Rodgers nearly made them after his frustration with Gutekunst hit its boiling point — they’ve signaled that they are picking the GM over the player.

Murphy began his remarks Monday by praising Gutekunst, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He has done an outstanding job,” Murphy said. “I have tremendous confidence in him and he is the man to lead us.” In short, that does not seem to be the words of a man about to throw his GM overboard to placate any player, no matter how great.

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Adam Beasley is the NFL Insider for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Adam’s work here and give him a follow on Twitter @AdamHBeasley.

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