Anyone watching Week 18’s Sunday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions probably walked away with the same question surrounding quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Was that the last time we will see the veteran QB play in a Packers uniform at Lambeau?
After a disappointing end to a lackluster season, Rodgers’ demeanor and actions after the team’s loss sure did make it seem like he was ready to hang up the gloves. Will Rodgers retire, or could he return for another year with Green Bay?
Will Aaron Rodgers Retire?
Although we have become accustomed to offseason drama surrounding Rodgers, the intrigue started a bit early this year. After the team’s surprising 20-16 loss to the Lions in a win-and-get-in game, Rodgers was seen taking his time to leave the football field. He stared out at the crowd as if it was going to be the last time he could appreciate what Lambeau Field has to offer.
When Lions running back and former teammate Jameson Williams asked for a jersey swap, Rodgers refused. He made mention of wanting to keep “this one.” He was also walking arm-in-arm with longtime teammate Randall Cobb right into the locker room.
While none of that is official and can be surmised simply as speculation, would it really be that much of a surprise if the 39-year-old QB retired? Not everyone can be Tom Brady, right?
MORE: NFL All-Time Single Season and Career QB Records
After the game, Rodgers did little to quell the murmurs of a potential retirement. Every response he gave had hints of a man strongly considering calling it quits. And even though he chalked his attitude up to disappointment, there were certainly undertones worthy of speculation.
“At some point, the carousel comes to a stop and it’s time to get off. And I think you kind of know when that is and that’s what needs to be contemplated. Is it time? Also, what’s the organization doing? It’s part of it as well,” Rodgers said when asked about a possible retirement.
“I think I need to get away and contemplate those things,” Rodgers said. “I have a lot of pride in what I’ve accomplished in this league, but I’m also a realist and I understand where we’re at as a team. We’re a young team. There could be some changes to some of the older guys and it could be time to step away. But I could take some time and say, ‘Oh, no, man, I need to get back out there and go on another run.’ But I’ll have to see what it feels like once I’m away from it.”
After already signing a massive contract extension last season, it is unlikely that Rodgers’ words are a play to get more money or more pull within the organization. At the end of the day, Rodgers might actually be looking at a future beyond football.
Speaking of Rodgers’ contract, what exactly happens if he does decide to retire?
Rodgers’ Contract A Nightmare for Green Bay
While we were all wondering if Rodgers would retire, Packers fans were probably looking up their Hall of Fame QB’s contract numbers. What they found will probably give them nightmares.
Rodgers has four years and more than $150 million remaining on his contract. Last offseason, he signed a three-year, $150 million extension that included the most guaranteed money in a single deal for a quarterback. That record didn’t last long but was still huge at the time.
If Rodgers decides to retire, the Packers will have a whopping $40.3 million dollar dead cap hit to deal with in 2023. Rodgers will be walking away from a potential $59.5 million payday.
But money is just energy, right? Well, that is what Rodgers says, anyways. And, when you have as much as he does, you can pretty much say whatever you want.
“Money is energy and I have made a ton of it, and I’m very thankful for this organization, the generational wealth that they’ve offered me,” he said. “But yeah, for sure. I can definitely walk away from that.”
It is no surprise Rodgers is considering retirement after the rocky season he just dealt with. The team was 4-8 at one point, clinging to very faint playoff hopes. Yes, they made a late-season push to potentially make some noise, but ultimately fell just short. Rodgers played well enough, but he was far from the QB he once was.
The emergence of rookie WR Christian Watson was one of the year’s highlights, but I doubt his impressive play was enough to keep Rodgers around. Rodgers finished the year with 3,695 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. He had the second-most single-season interceptions (12) of his career and his third-worst TD% since 2008.