Aaron Rodgers reportedly intends to play for the Green Bay Packers in 2021, despite an ongoing rift with the organization.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports Rodgers "has indicated to people close to him that he does plan to play" for the Packers during the upcoming NFL season, a source confirmed.
"That is the expectation," Rapoport tweeted. "Many factors at play, but with GM Brian Gutekunst saying he is 'hopeful' for a positive outcome, there is a glimmer of optimism."
The report comes less than a week after news that Rodgers reportedly turned down a massive contract extension with Green Bay this offseason amid reports of his displeasure with the organization.
ESPN's Adam Schefter, who initially broke the news of Rodgers being "disgruntled" with the Packers in April, reports the two-year extension offered by Green Bay would have made Rodgers the highest-paid player in football, according to sources.
Schefter initially reported Rodgers "is so disgruntled with the Green Bay Packers that he has told some within the organization that he does not want to return to the team" on the first day of the 2021 NFL Draft in April.
"The Packers are aware of his feelings, concerned about them and have had team president Mark Murphy, general manager Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur each fly out on separate trips to meet with Rodgers at various points this offseason, sources told ESPN," Schefter wrote at the time.
Earlier this month, Rodgers addressed his ongoing situation with the Green Bay Packers during TNT's long-anticipated The Match event after publicly confirming reports that he was "disgruntled" with the organization.
"I don't know, B.A., we'll see," Rodgers said when TNT's Brian Anderson asked if he planned on returning to the Packers in 2021. "We'll see, won't we?"
Anderson then asked about September 12, to which Rodgers asked, "What's that one?"
Anderson clarified that it was the date of the Packers' season opener against the Saints, to which the reigning NFL MVP once again said, "I don't know, B.A., we'll see."
Rodgers and his teammate, former U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, defeated fellow NFL quarterback Tom Brady and his partner, six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, inThe Match on Tuesday.
In May, Rodgers told Kenny Mayne during Mayne's final SportsCenter episode that he believes he played so well that it may have changed Green Bay's plans to move on from him after the team selected his presumed eventual replacement, Jordan Love, in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
"A lot of this was put in motion last year, and the wrench was just kind of thrown into it when I won MVP and played the way I played last year," Rodgers said. "This is just kind of, I think, a spill-out of all that. But it is about the people, and that's the most important thing. Green Bay has always been about the people -- from Curly Lambeau being owner and founder to the '60s with [Vince] Lombardi and Bart Starr and all those incredible names to the '90s teams with coach [Mike] Holmgren and Favrey [Brett Favre] and the Minister of Defense [Reggie White] to the run that we've been on. It's about the people."
Rodgers was absent from the Packers' Phase Three portion of OTAs, which includes 10 total days of work spread over four weeks, ESPN's Rob Demovsky reported.
Schefter noted that Rodgers has "been a regular participant in the Packers' offseason program and OTAs" throughout his NFL career in a quote-tweet sharing Demovsky's report on the reigning NFL MVP's absence at the time of the report.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters previously that the issue with Rodgers had been addressed internally "for a little while now" and the franchise is still working toward bringing back the reigning NFL MVP.
"We've been working through this for a little while now, and I just think it may take some time," Gutekunst said via ESPN. "But he's a guy that kind of makes this thing go. He gives us the best chance to win, and we're going to work towards that end."
Rodgers is still under contract with Green Bay through the 2023 season but has no guaranteed money remaining on his current deal. Gutekunst said the team has communicated openly with Rodgers and his representatives about a new deal throughout the offseason.
"We're not going to trade Aaron Rodgers," Gutekunst added via ESPN.
Gutekunst responded to Schefter's initial report by telling ESPN, "As we've stated since the season ended, we are committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond. Aaron has been a vital part of our success and we look forward to competing for another championship with him leading our team."
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero also reported the San Francisco 49ers "reached out" to the Packers on April 28 to inquire about a possible trade involving the Butte County, California native, however, no formal offer was made and a source confirmed there was a "zero percent chance" Green Bay was willing to trade the reigning NFL MVP.
Shortly after Pelissero's report, FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reported "a few teams" contacted the Packers about a possible trade involving Rodgers.
Gutekunst denied speaking with 49ers general manager John Lynch regarding a possible deal for Rodgers prior to the 2021 NFL Draft. Lynch, however, told reporters the franchise "inquired" about the MVP quarterback, but didn't confirm when the conversation took place, adding, "It was a quick end to the conversation; it wasn't happening."
Gutekunst acknowledged that the Packers received numerous calls from other NFL teams after Schefter's report of Rodgers' unhappiness.
"Sometime after 5 o'clock, after a lot of the stuff had kind of hit the airwaves, I got I think one call," Gutekunst said. "It was very brief, and that was it."
Rodgers has spent his entire career in Green Bay since being selected No. 24 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, which saw him serve as a backup and eventual heir to Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre during his first three seasons.
However, the Packers made a similar move by selecting Love at No. 26 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, choosing to draft Rodgers' possible future replacement instead of getting the former Super Bowl MVP some offensive help with their first-round pick, leading to speculation of a possible rift prior to the 2020 season.
Rodgers responded with one of the best seasons of his legendary career, recording an NFL best 48 touchdowns, 70.7 completion percentage, and 9.1 touchdown percentage, as well as 4,299 yards and just five interceptions while leading Green Bay to an NFC best 13-3 regular-season record and winning the 2020 NFL MVP award.
Additionally, the Packers once again invested their first-round pick on a defensive player in the 2021 NFL Draft last month instead of getting more help for the 37-year-old quarterback.
CBS SportsLine's Allan Bell noted that the Love is the only offensive player selected by Green Bay in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2012 and the team has selected zero wide receivers in round one since 2002.
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