GREEN BAY, Wisconsin — Aaron Rodgers said Tuesday he doesn’t know how many seasons he has left — and admitted the three-year, $150 million contract extension he signed in March shouldn’t be an indicator — but he knows where he will end his career.
A year after skipping the mandatory Green Bay Packers mini-camp as part of his dissatisfaction with the organization, he was asked if he plans to end his career with the only team he’s ever played for in the NFL.
“Yeah, definitely,” Rodgers said.
That was a question as late as March, when everything from retirement to asking for a trade was on the table.
Rodgers cleared up each of those doubts Tuesday after the first practice session of the Packers’ mandatory mini-camp. He previously skipped most of the volunteer offseason program to train in Southern California instead.
“I’m just here so I don’t get a fine,” Rodgers said with a smile, channeling his inner Marshawn Lynch.
Maybe he was only half joking. A source said that last June, after skipping mandatory minicamp, Rodgers sent him a letter telling him he would be fined for his absence.
Tuesday’s practice was his first chance to throw down newly acquired receivers Sammy Watkins (signed as a free agent) and 2022 draft picks Christian Watson (second round), Romeo Doubs (fourth round) and Samori Toure (seventh round). . The only key member of the Packers offense not present was receiver Allen Lazard, who has not yet signed his limited free agent contract.
“I miss the boys,” Rodgers said, “I love being with the boys. It was a nice off-season [training] Southern California team and the work we put into it. But it’s good to be back out here with the boys. Nice to meet Christian and Romeo and reacclimate with some of the older guys. It’s all about the timing and they feel the rhythm and the urgency and stuff like that and it’s just nice to be back in the building with these guys.
“They have been great for taking care of myself in the way that I need it best. Obviously it’s worked through my game over the past few years and I expect nothing less.”
Packers coach Matt LaFleur wasn’t initially sure how much work he’d be giving Rodgers Tuesday, but after seeing the reigning MVP was in good shape, he allowed Rodgers to participate in almost every practice, including some 11- vs. 11 exercises were at jog-through pace.
“The more these guys can get along with each other, the more they can learn from each other, the faster they can start developing that chemistry that’s so important, that we know is so important to our success on the pitch,” said LaFleur. “So, I’m just excited that we’ve got him in the building with these young guys and we’ll see how he goes today.”
The Packers have gone through three straight 13-win seasons but failed to reach the Super Bowl in any of them, including two losses in the NFC Championship Game. And now Rodgers must grapple with life after Davante Adams, the All-Pro wide receiver who wanted out of Green Bay and was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason.
“The offense has to change,” Rodgers said. “Last year, when you have such a talented guy, it’s probably not an exaggeration to say that 80% of the plays in the passing game were designed specifically for 17, so obviously we’re going to do some things a little differently.”
Rodgers is expected to return to training on Wednesday and Thursday but said he won’t be staying for the final OTAs next week. As for his future after this season, Rodgers said he’s only thinking about one season at a time. He called his contract extension a series of one-year deals, in part made to give the Packers significant salary cap relief this season.
“If you’re saying I’ll definitely play two or three more years and then have a magical season ending in a championship and think that’s the best way to drive away, I don’t want to commit to anything,” Rodgers said. “You say I only play a year and you have a bitter taste in your mouth and still have the drive and passion to play for another year or two, I just don’t want to be pigeonholed.
“So my focus is on this season. I will never drag it to the off-season. The conversations I’ve had with Brian have been very honest and direct and that’s not going to change and we’ll sit down after the season, hopefully after a championship, and figure out what the next step is.”