Aaron Rodgers has only done one football-related interview since his rift with the Packers became public and as you may or may not have noticed, the reigning MVP didn’t mention any specific reasons for why he’s currently in a spat with the team he’s spent his entire career with.
According to one report, Rodgers is upset with Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst and won’t play for the team this season unless Green Bay gets rid of him. One person who disagrees with the take is James Jones, who spent eight seasons with Rodgers in Green Bay.
Not only is the former Packers receiver considered a close friend of Rodgers, but he’s also been kind of serving as the unofficial spokesman for the quarterback over the past few weeks. Jones is one of the few people who has been communicating with Rodgers, which is why it was so interesting to hear what Jones had to say about the drama during an interview with Colin Cowherd this week.
First and foremost, Jones says there are two main issues that Rodgers has with the Packers right now.
The first one?
“His No. 1 beef is a private conversation on the phone that I can’t share with you,” Jones said.
Jones didn’t give any details about what was said on this mystery phone call, but it must have gone sideways pretty quickly. Although it’s unknown who Rodgers was talking to, he’s had at least two phone calls over the past two years that probably left him slightly upset.
The first one reportedly came in January 2019. According to Packers beat writer Tyler Dunne, team CEO Mark Murphy called Rodgers to let him know the Packers were going to hire Matt LaFleur and here’s what happened on that call (via Dunne):
The source close to the team says Murphy called Rodgers to tell him who they were going with. He didn’t ask for permission — he told him who the choice was. There was a brief pause on the other end of the phone before Rodgers eventually spoke. Murphy made it clear that Rodgers would need to accept coaching. “Don’t be the problem,” he told him. “Don’t be the problem.”
The source close to the team says [Murphy] is “tired of the diva stuff” [from Rodgers].
Not only did the Packers hire a new coach without consulting Rodgers, but if this conversation happened, Murphy is calling his quarterback a problem without calling him a problem. If someone tells you, “Don’t be a problem,” that’s definitely not a compliment. Also, Rodgers could be upset that details from this phone call leaked out. If he knows he didn’t leak it, that would mean the leak came from Murphy’s end and no one is going to be thrilled to learn that details of a private phone conversation got leaked to the media.
There was also a situation earlier this year where the Packers reportedly let Rodgers know that they were going to trade him this offseason before deciding not to pull the trigger on a deal.
Things got so serious that Rodgers actually thought he was going to be traded to the 49ers the day before the draft.
The Packers have said that it’s “unequivocally false” that they made any sort of promise like that to Rodgers. Of course, if there was some sort of miscommunication here that happened during a phone call, it would be easy to see why Rodgers’ “No. 1 beef” with the Packers is a “private conversation” on the phone.
As for the other reason why Rodgers is unhappy with the Packers, it wasn’t really a surprise: Rodgers isn’t thrilled that the team keeps cutting players that he likes.
“He’s seen a lot of guys walk out of that building and play very good football,” Jones said.” He wants to make sure that a lot of guys like that (stick around) … These dudes are big in the locker room, and I think that’s what important to him.”
Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are all notable players that the Packers have cut over the past few years that would have lasted longer in Green Bay if Rodgers had been making the decisions.
Back in May, it was reported that the release of Jake Kumerow, who was cut in September, was the “death knell” in Rodgers’ relationship with the Packers. At the time, it seemed kind of ridiculous to think that the release of a fifth-string wideout could upset Rodgers like that, but when you hear Jones’ explanation, it all makes sense. Kumerow getting cut was basically the straw that broke the camel’s back. After seeing multiple friends get released, Rodgers finally snapped after Kumerow was let go in September 2020 (The move came just one day after Rodgers had publicly lauded Kumerow for his solid play).
The bottom line here is that it seems like Rodgers just wants to have some sort of say when it comes to personnel input, especially with guys he’s built a relationship with.
One other thing Jones mentioned is that Gutekunst isn’t the problem.
“I’ve talked to Aaron,” Jones said. “I talk to him all the time. And he’s told me that it’s not about the [general manager]. It’s not about new money. It’s not about the GM. So when I hear everybody on here say, ‘It’s about getting the GM fired’ and these things, it’s not about that.”
This is exactly what CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported in May. Gutekunst has only been the general manager since January 2018, so he wasn’t involved in many of the decisions that Rodgers eventually became upset with.
As JLC noted in his May story, Rodgers has felt blindsided by many of the moves that the Packers front office has made, from drafting Jordan Love to hiring LaFleur without talking to him to promoting Russ Ball to director of football operations. One thing all three of those moves have in common is that Mark Murphy had to sign off on them. Murphy doesn’t want Rodgers to be a problem, but in the same breath, he’s regularly making decisions that undermine his quarterback.
If the current Packers front office stays intact, it won’t be surprising if Rodgers responds by simply doing what he’s already doing: Staying away from Green Bay.
In his only conversation about all the drama in Green Bay, Rodgers made it clear that he “loves” everyone in the organization, but he noticeably left out the front office and you can bet that wasn’t a coincidence.
“With my situation, look, it’s never been about the draft pick, picking Jordan [Love],” Rodgers said on May 25. “I love Jordan, he’s a great kid. A lot of fun to work together. I love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay. It’s been an incredible 16 years.”
Despite all the drama, Jones still thinks the situation between Rodgers and the Packers is “fixable” and you can read more about that by clicking here.