If fans in Green Bay are looking for someone to blame in the ongoing standoff between Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, Alex Smith seems to be a big believer that most of the blame should fall on the team.
According to the recently retired quarterback, the Packers’ actions over the past year have been “inexcusable.” Smith was asked about the Rodgers-Packers situation this week during an interview with Colin Cowherd.
“It’s inexcusable,” Smith said of how the Packers have handled the situation. “It’s absolutely [inexcusable], how they ever got to this point. I mean Aaron’s been there 16 years, what he’s given to that organization. For them, to what happened last year during the draft — I haven’t talked to Aaron about this, so I don’t want to put words in his mouth — but clearly, to watch the interview and hear him talk about it, it’s about the people, and it is.”
Rodgers has made it clear that he doesn’t have a beef with Jordan Love, but he’s also made it clear that he wasn’t happy that the team drafted someone to replace him with their first-round pick in 2020. According to Smith, one thing that could have helped the situation is If the Packers had given Rodgers a heads up about their plans to take a QB.
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“I just don’t understand how an organization, how you haven’t addressed that beforehand when you make a move like that and really made sure that everything is tightened up and everybody is feeling good about it, because if it’s not, you’re not doing it,” Smith said. “It’s not the way you run a business, it’s not the way you’re treating people. Sixteen years this guy has been there, you’re on the doorstep of the Super Bowl, and you don’t go out of your way to communicate that [you’re drafting a QB]?”
Smith believes a simple phone call from the Packers front office to Rodgers before the 2020 draft might have helped the team stay on good terms its star QB.
“I don’t think it was the fact that they drafted Jordan Love in the first round,” Smith said. “I think the fact, how do you have a guy like Aaron and you don’t go make sure beforehand, you aren’t going out of your way to make sure that he knows that he’s loved, that they want him there, that we may be taking a quarterback in the first round, we want to make sure you’re okay with it ‘this is maybe what we’re doing.’ How you haven’t treated him the right way leading up to that.”
If anyone knows how Rodgers feels about being replaced, it would definitely be Smith. The three-time Pro Bowler was the Chiefs starting quarterback in 2017 when Kansas City decided to trade up for Patrick Mahomes. In that instance, Smith wasn’t blindsided by the move because the Chiefs kept him in the loop.
“That was something that was talked about throughout the draft process, not just by coach (Andy) Reid,” Smith said. “Everybody involved in the personnel department and I’m talking multiple times, ‘Hey this really might be something we’re doing, are you okay with it? This is going to be the situation.’ There were no surprises. It was absolutely laid out for me. I think that all helps when that stuff is communicated. It does make a difference how you treat people.”
If the Packers would have given Rodgers a heads up about the pick, it’s very possible their relationship with him might not have deteriorated to where it is now. Getting a heads up about a pick is a courtesy that a team’s front office will often give to a starting quarterback. For instance, the Bears let Andy Dalton know they might draft a quarterback this year and Dalton has never even played a single down for the team.
Rodgers made his first comments about all the Packers drama on Monday and based on his explanation, it sounds like he feels the Packers were planning to replace him after the 2020 season, but then they couldn’t do that after he played at an MVP level.
“A lot this was put in motion last year,” Rodgers said of his spat with the Packers. “The wrench was just kind of throw into it when I won MVP and played the way I played last year. This is just kind of the spill out of all that.”
Smith’s situation ended with the former No. 1 overall pick leaving Kansas City in a trade and it seems that Rodgers is hoping his situation with the Packers ends in the same way.