Rodgers says he can play at MVP level in right situation

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers believes he can still produce at an MVP level in the right situation if he opts to play next season.

Rodgers discussed the uncertainty of his future plans Tuesday during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” on SiriusXM and YouTube. The four-time MVP hasn’t decided whether to return to the Packers, retire or request a trade.

“Do I still think I can play?” Rodgers said. “Of course. Of course. Can I play at a high level? Yeah. The highest. I think I can win MVP again, in the right situation. The right situation — is that Green Bay or is that somewhere else? I’m not sure.”

Rodgers posted his lowest passer rating as a starter and threw 12 interceptions — his highest single-season total since 2008 during his first season as a starter — as the Packers went 8-9 and missed the playoffs this season. He played much of the season with a broken right thumb and also dealt with injured ribs.

The 39-year-old Rodgers spoke with Packers officials last week after Green Bay’s season ended with a 20-16 home loss to the Detroit Lions. A victory in that game would have given the Packers their fourth straight playoff appearance.

“We had all the conversations I think we wanted to have about football for now,” Rodgers said. “They’re not pressing for any type of specific answer, and I’m not mentally or physically at that point to give one.”

He has acknowledged a decision to return isn’t solely his to make and that the Packers could decide they want to move on. The Packers used their 2020 first-round draft pick on Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, who has backed up Rodgers the past three seasons.

Rodgers said that if he returns to Green Bay, he doesn’t want to be part of a rebuild. Rodgers named several veteran players he hoped would remain with the Packers if he returns for a 19th season.

“A guy like Marcedes Lewis is an important cog in the wheel of the locker room and the momentum of a team,” Rodgers said. “That’s a guy I want to finish my career with. If I’m playing, I want that guy next to me. I want the Randall Cobbs of the world, if he wants to be playing, in my locker room. Guys you can win with. Allen Lazard, Bobby Tonyan, Dave Bakhtiari.”

All those players other than Bakhtiari are pending free agents. Bakhtiari has a projected 2023 cap hit of about $29 million according to Spotrac, though general manager Brian Gutekunst said Friday he’s hopeful the veteran left tackle will be back in Green Bay next season.

“If they want to go younger and think Jordan’s ready to go, then that might be the way they want to go,” Rodgers said. “And if that’s the case and I still want to play, then there’s only one option, right, and that’s to play somewhere else. If it’s not and they’re like, ‘No, no, we still want you to play,’ and this and that, then it would have to be the right situation with a roster that looks like we can win it all because there’s no point in coming back if you don’t think you can win it all.”

Gutekunst said Friday he believes Rodgers can still perform at a high level. Gutekunst also said that “I really like the way he led us.”

“We made a really big commitment to (Rodgers) last offseason, so I think as we did that, it wasn’t certainly for just this year,” Gutekunst said. “Like I said, he’s going to take his time, and the communication will be pretty constant as we move forward.”

As he comes off one of his worst statistical seasons, Rodgers compared his situation to what he faced after 2019. Rodgers wasn’t as productive as usual that year during coach Matt LaFleur’s debut season, but the defense led the Packers to a 13-3 record and NFC championship game appearance.

“A lot of people said I was washed, couldn’t really play anymore, wasn’t the same,” Rodgers said. “And then I won two MVPs in a row without really doing anything different. I’m sure there’s a lot of the same sentiment this year.”

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