Green Bay Packers star Davante Adams said he would "definitely have to do some extra thinking" if reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers did not suit up for the franchise next season.

Rodgers is reportedly unhappy and seeking a Packers exit, though Green Bay have made it clear they are unwilling to trade the three-time MVP and Super Bowl champion.

It remains to be seen what the future holds for Rodgers, 37, heading into the 2021 season after leading the Packers to the NFC Championship Game.

All-Pro team-mate Adams is into the final year of his contract and admitted his fate could potentially hinge on the superstar quarterback.

"Potentially, potentially; that's my guy," Packers wide receiver Adams told Fox Sports Radio. "That's the only guy that I've had -- other than that 2017 season, when he got hurt. That's the only guy that I've played with.

"We've built up a special connection over the years that has put us both in really good positions in our career. Not that he needed me to come along for it, because he was already in that spot, but we've established a lot together.

"So, it would change a lot. Doesn't mean potentially I'd be gone, but I'd definitely have to do some extra thinking if my guy wasn't here."

Adams caught 115 passes for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, while Rodgers amassed 48 TDs, five interceptions and a completion rate of 70.7 per cent for the Packers – who lost to eventual Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rodgers' quarterback rating of 121.5 puts him second on the all-time list among qualifiers, behind only his 2011 campaign (122.5).

In total, Rodgers completed 372 of 526 attempts for 4,299 yards as the Packers topped the NFC North with a 13-3 record to clinch home-field advantage and the top seed in the NFC playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Rodgers is level with Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, Favre, Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown with three MVP honours – only Peyton Manning (five) has more in NFL history.

"A lot is still being figured out on his end, so it's tough for me to get into the specifics and speak on it," Adams said. "Obviously, I would love to. Can't wait until I can tell you he's back and we're back doing our thing we've been doing. But for now, you've got to iron out a few things. Hopefully I'll be back on the show and we'll be celebrating taking shots and whatnot."

Adams – a four-time Pro Bowler – added: "We all know this is a pretty intense business, there's a lot that happens, a lot that goes on here. Just like any other job, you want to be happy, and once you've gained that respect, you want to be treated with that type of respect.

"There's certain things that I can't speak on specifics, but there are certain things that he wants, and maybe the club wasn't so excited about living up to right away.

"And that can affect a guy who's done so much for an organization. He's put his body and really laid his life on the line out there for that team, for his teammates. So I've been behind him 100 per cent throughout the whole thing.

"Obviously I'm praying everything works out and we get him back and we can continue to go out there and continue to do stuff like we did [last season] because it's a lot of fun doing that."

Brett Favre is not optimistic star quarterback Aaron Rodgers will play for the Green Bay Packers again.

Rodgers and his future in Green Bay has dominated headlines since the opening day of last week's NFL Draft, with the reigning MVP reportedly unhappy and seeking a Packers exit.

The Packers have made it clear they are unwilling to trade the 37-year-old three-time MVP and Super Bowl champion.

Hall of Famer and Packers great Favre spent the majority of his illustrious career in Green Bay, where he led the franchise to the Super Bowl before leaving in 2008, having been replaced by Rodgers.

"Boy it's a good question; that's the million-dollar question," Favre told ESPN on Wednesday when asked about Rodgers' future.

"I think I know Aaron fairly well, and honestly I just don't see him coming back and just saying, 'All right, let's just bury the hatchet, whatever caused the rift, and I'm just going to come back and play because I love the guys, I love the Green Bay fans' -- I assume he does -- but his rift isn't with the fans or the players.

"It's with the front office. Will he just swallow his pride and come in? Maybe. But I don't see that happening.

"If there's not a trade, my gut tells me that he'd rather sit out than play. That's just my gut. There's no reason for me to say that other than that's what my gut's telling me, and I think you guys know Aaron fairly well enough to sort of feel the same way."

Rodgers amassed 48 touchdowns, five interceptions and a completion rate of 70.7 per cent for the Packers, who lost to eventual Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game last season.

His quarterback rating of 121.5 puts him second on the all-time list among qualifiers, behind only his 2011 campaign (122.5).

In total, Rodgers completed 372 of 526 attempts for 4,299 yards as the Packers topped the NFC North with a 13-3 record to clinch home-field advantage and the top seed in the NFC playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Rodgers is now level with Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, Favre, Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown with three MVP honours – only Peyton Manning (five) has more in NFL history.

"I'd like to see him win a Super Bowl in Green Bay, another one," Favre said. "But the thing is, life's too short, I want him to be happy. He's been there as long as I was there, and I know what that means, and he's put up unbelievable numbers.

"Win another Super Bowl and then do what you want to do, whether it's keep playing, play somewhere else, whatever. But win one more in Green Bay and go out the way you want to go out.

"You don't want to go out this way, whether it's sit out or play somewhere else."

Green Bay Packers president and chief executive Mark Murphy said the franchise are aware of Aaron Rodgers' concerns but "remain committed" to the disgruntled star quarterback in 2021 and beyond.

Rodgers and his future in Green Bay dominated the opening day of the NFL Draft on Thursday, with the reigning MVP reportedly unhappy and seeking a Packers exit.

The Packers have made it clear they are unwilling to trade the three-time MVP and Super Bowl champion.

Murphy addressed the situation in his monthly Packers column on Saturday.

"This is an issue that we have been working on for several months," Murphy wrote via the Packers' official website. "[General manager] Brian Gutekunst, [head coach] Matt LaFleur and I have flown out on a number of occasions to meet with Aaron.

"We are very much aware of Aaron's concerns and have been working with him [and his agent Dave Dunn] to resolve them. We remain committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond.

"He is not only a tremendously talented player, but has developed into a true leader for us. The relationship that Aaron has forged with Matt and the other offensive coaches has propelled us to the brink of the Super Bowl in two straight years.

"We look forward to competing for another Super Bowl championship with Aaron as our leader."

Rodgers amassed 48 touchdowns, five interceptions and a completion rate of 70.7 per cent for the Packers last season.

His quarterback rating of 121.5 puts him second on the all-time list among qualifiers, behind only his 2011 campaign (122.5).

In total, Rodgers completed 372 of 526 attempts for 4,299 yards as the Packers topped the NFC North with a 13-3 record to clinch home-field advantage and the top seed in the NFC playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Rodgers is now level with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, Packers great Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown with three MVP honours – only Peyton Manning (five) has more in NFL history.

Asked if LaFleur's next game as Packers head coach did not include Rodgers, he replied: "I can't even take my brain to that spot right now. I just want to do everything in my power to ensure that doesn't happen."

LaFleur added: "I don't only love the player, I love the person. I love working with him on a daily basis."

The Green Bay Packers insisted they plan on keeping Aaron Rodgers, as rumours swirl about the quarterback's future.

Hours before the start of the NFL Draft, the league's biggest night of the off-season, reports emerged that the veteran might be on the way out after 16 seasons with the team. 

General manager Brian Gutekunst responded with a statement reiterating the Packers' expectation that Rodgers will remain at the helm. 

“As we’ve stated since the season ended, we are committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond," the statement said. 

"Aaron has been a vital part of our success and we look forward to competing for another championship with him leading our team.”

In a news conference following the first round of the draft, Gutekunst was more direct, saying: "We're not going to trade Aaron Rodgers."  

Rodgers' future with Green Bay has been a source of speculation since last spring, when the team made a surprise move to draft quarterback Jordan Love in the first round.

Rodgers then said in May 2020 that while he had a "sincere desire" to play his entire career with one franchise, that scenario "may not be a reality at this point".

At age 37 and coming off his third NFL MVP award last season, Rodgers has said he wants to play into his forties but where that will occur has suddenly become a question. 

A report Thursday said the San Francisco 49ers had offered quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the No. 3 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, and other draft picks to the Packers in an attempt to acquire Rodgers. 

Multiple media outlets quickly cited sources refuting the report, with ESPN saying the 49ers asked about Rodgers but did not make an offer. NFL Network also reported no offer was made and added there is a "zero per cent chance" the Packers will trade Rodgers. 

Both outlets also reported that Rodgers and the Packers have been negotiating a contract extension and the quarterback is not happy with where things stand. ESPN said he has told the team he wants to depart. 

After seeing limited playing time behind Brett Favre his first three seasons, Rodgers has been the Packers' starter since 2008. 

In 197 appearances for Green Bay, Rodgers has thrown for 51,245 yards with 412 touchdowns and 89 interceptions, completing 65.1 per cent of his passes. His 103.9 passer rating is third all-time. 

A three-time All-Pro selection, he led the Packers to the Super Bowl title after the 2010 season. 

Rodgers set career highs last season with a 70.7 completion percentage and 48 touchdown passes. 

The Green Bay Packers are "committed" to Aaron Rodgers, as rumours swirl about the quarterback's future.

Hours before the start of the NFL Draft, the league's biggest night of the off-season, reports emerged that the veteran might be on the way out after 16 seasons with the team. 

General manager Brian Gutekunst responded with a statement reiterating the Packers' expectation that Rodgers will remain at the helm. 

“As we’ve stated since the season ended, we are committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond," the statement said. 

"Aaron has been a vital part of our success and we look forward to competing for another championship with him leading our team.”

Rodgers' future with Green Bay has been a source of speculation since last spring, when the team made a surprise move to draft quarterback Jordan Love in the first round.

Rodgers then said in May 2020 that while he had a "sincere desire" to play his entire career with one franchise, that scenario "may not be a reality at this point".

At age 37 and coming off his third NFL MVP award last season, Rodgers has said he wants to play into his forties but where that will occur has suddenly become a question. 

A report Thursday said the San Francisco 49ers had offered quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the No. 3 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, and other draft picks to the Packers in an attempt to acquire Rodgers. 

Multiple media outlets quickly cited sources refuting the report, with ESPN saying the 49ers asked about Rodgers but did not make an offer. NFL Network also reported no offer was made and added there is a "zero per cent chance" the Packers will trade Rodgers. 

Both outlets also reported that Rodgers and the Packers have been negotiating a contract extension and the quarterback is not happy with where things stand. ESPN said he has told the team he wants to depart. 

After seeing limited playing time behind Brett Favre his first three seasons, Rodgers has been the Packers' starter since 2008. 

In 197 appearances for Green Bay, Rodgers has thrown for 51,245 yards with 412 touchdowns and 89 interceptions, completing 65.1 per cent of his passes. His 103.9 passer rating is third all-time. 

A three-time All-Pro selection, he led the Packers to the Super Bowl title after the 2010 season. 

Rodgers set career highs last season with a 70.7 completion percentage and 48 touchdown passes. 

Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said Aaron Rodgers is the team's quarterback for the "foreseeable future" as they work through the reigning NFL MVP's contract situation.

Rodgers claimed his third MVP award last season after leading the Packers to the NFC Championship Game, but his future has been up in the air after describing it as "uncertain" and a "beautiful mystery".

The 37-year-old star and Super Bowl champion is contracted through the 2023 season after signing a $134million extension in 2018.

While the Packers are yet to restructure or extend Rodgers' contract as they look to create cap space, Gutekunst insisted Green Bay remain committed to the nine-time Pro Bowler.

"That's kind of something we're working through," Gutekunst told reporters on Monday ahead of the NFL Draft, which starts Thursday.

"You know, it's something that we've talked about quite a bit as we've worked through this salary-cap situation, which is really kind of a two-year situation. We've looked at a lot of different things and that's one of them."

Rodgers amassed 48 touchdowns, five interceptions and a completion rate of 70.7 per cent for the Packers last season.

His quarterback rating of 121.5 puts him second on the all-time list among qualifiers, behind only his 2011 campaign (122.5).

In total, Rodgers completed 372 of 526 attempts for 4,299 yards as the Packers topped the NFC North with a 13-3 record to clinch home-field advantage and the top seed in the NFC playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Rodgers is now level with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, Packers great Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown with three MVP honours – only Peyton Manning (five) has more in NFL history.

Gutekunst added: "Aaron's our guy; he's going to be our quarterback for the foreseeable future. We're excited about kind of the things we're going to try to accomplish here over the next couple years.

"So we certainly think with the contract that you're kind of talking about is something we'll work through. We're going to have to do probably a few things with different contracts as we head toward the season and then through the season to make sure that our salary cap situation, not only this year, but in 2022 is square.

"We're not done yet. We've done a lot to get here. We've kind of been doing things as we go and we will continue to do that as we go."

The NFL Draft looms large on the horizon as rosters continue to take shape ahead of the 2021 season.

Some big offseason moves have already threatened to alter the landscape of the league, even boosting the championship hopes of teams who missed out on the playoffs in 2020.

Most notably, the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins will each feel they won a trade that saw the number three overall pick sent to the NFC West team in exchange for assets including multiple future first-rounders.

The Niners will get a look at one of the top quarterbacks in an exciting class as they aim to challenge again following an injury ravaged campaign, while the Dolphins can now surround starter Tua Tagovailoa with talent in year two and beyond.

But what of the teams who were already Super Bowl contenders?

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers reached the NFC Championship Game and the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills advanced in the AFC, pre-game predictions could scarcely separate the four.

It was the Bucs who ultimately prevailed, progressing past Green Bay before beating the Chiefs at Super Bowl LV, but their rivals will expect to be in the mix again.

Although chaos higher up in the draft could see plans quickly go out the window, we assess where the Bucs, Packers, Chiefs and Bills might be looking next week - with the help of Stats Perform data.
 

Green Bay Packers

All four of these teams will have interesting options in the first round as the early rush for quarterbacks leaves great depth at several other positions across the board. But the Packers, picking 29th, would be wise to think about how they might help Aaron Rodgers.

The veteran QB was understandably surprised last year when, rather than recruiting help, Green Bay drafted another passer in the first round. Jordan Love did not take a single snap all season long.

Packers wide receiver Davante Adams led the league in receiving touchdowns (18) and ranked fourth for targets (149), joint-second for catches (115) and joint-fifth for receiving yards (1,374), despite playing only 14 games. However, Rodgers clearly lacked a second WR option, with tight end Robert Tonyan's 11 TDs coming on just 59 targets.

There should be no shortage of prospects available to Green Bay, with Elijah Moore - ranked first in the FBS with 149.1 yards per game for Ole Miss - a good fit in the slot.

Yet the team have not selected a receiver in the first round since before Rodgers was drafted, while Adams, in 2014, was the last WR taken higher than the fourth round.

Defensive reinforcements may be more likely over the first two days of the draft. A linebacker like Zaven Collins - four interceptions last season for Tulsa - or a cornerback such as Caleb Farley - falling following back surgery - could be called in the first round, with a later punt on a potential WR project following.
 

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo's needs are two-fold as they aim to give QB Josh Allen the platform to contend with Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady again.

The Bills ranked fourth in the NFL in 2020 for yards per attempt but 20th for rushing average (4.19). Allen contributed 421 of their 1,723 total rushing yards and half of their 16 rushing TDs.

Neither Devin Singletary (156 carries for 687 yards and two TDs) nor Zack Moss (112 carries for 481 yards and four TDs) look capable of being a game-changer on the ground, while the best running backs in the class may well still be on the board at number 30.

Alabama's Najee Harris, who led the FBS with 26 rushing scores, is an obvious standout.

Yet Buffalo's issues against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game came as they failed to disrupt Mahomes, who was sacked only once and threw three TDs and no interceptions.

The Bills were in the middle of the pack for sacks (38, tied 15th) and hurries (163, 17th) and could use someone on the edge, particularly with Jerry Hughes - the man who sacked Mahomes - turning 33 in August.
 

Kansas City Chiefs

If the playoffs made the shortcomings for Buffalo clear, Kansas City's flaws were even more blatant. The best QB in football was helpless in the Super Bowl.

Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher, the Chiefs' starting tackles, missed the big game through injury and Mahomes was sacked three times, throwing two picks and no TDs. The pair have each since been released, too, increasing the team's need at the position.

Arrivals Joe Thuney, who allowed 0.5 sacks last season, and Kyle Long, back out of retirement, are not best suited to playing outside. Kansas City would ideally find both a right and left tackle in this draft.

They should have no shortage of options, with a number of prospects mooted as potential picks. Teven Jenkins, out of Oklahoma State, can play either side and would be a popular signing.
 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs are in a truly unenviable position in that they have no positions of major need.

Some defensive end depth would be nice, but this unit pressured Mahomes into submission. The team ranked second for both hurries (182) and knockdowns (115). Linebacker Shaquil Barrett alone had 13 Super Bowl pressures.

Or how about a receiver to deliver the late-season impact provided by Antonio Brown? He had only four starts yet scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl triumph. Of course, he could also still return.

The rest of the title-winning roster from last year is back, meaning Tampa Bay remain in 'win now' mode and can simply look to pick up the best player left on the board at pick 32.

That might mean a RB like Harris, while the Bucs would have little to lose in taking a flier on Farley, despite his fitness concerns, if he falls to them.

It was a memorable season for the Green Bay Packers, but one that ultimately ended similarly to the last.

The Packers went down to a frustrating NFC Championship Game defeat to eventual champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one year on from losing at the same stage to the San Francisco 49ers.

In between those events, Aaron Rodgers put together a sensational season to be named NFL MVP for the third time.

Rodgers responded perfectly to the Packers trading up and drafting his potential replacement, Jordan Love, in the first round of the 2020 draft, puzzlingly eschewing the help at wide receiver he appeared to need.

Consecutive 13-3 seasons under Matt LaFleur are to be applauded.

But one Super Bowl ring seems an unfair return for a quarterback of Rodgers’ quality, so it is time for the Packers front office to do more to get him over the hump as his career enters its latter years.

We have used Stats Perform data to scrutinise how they might go about doing it on the evidence of their 2020 campaign.

Offense

Led by a remarkable season from Rodgers, who threw for a career-high 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions, the Green Bay offense was rolling.

There were calls ahead of the season for further receiving threats to be brought in to complement number one option Davante Adams.

While those did not arrive, passing to the first-team All-Pro was a cheat code in 2020, with Adams racking up 115 catches, 1,374 yards and a league-leading 18 touchdowns in 14 regular season games.

The Packers were ninth with 256.6 net passing yards per game, but that figure came with them having the least attempts (526) of any top-10 passing offense, suggesting they often had much more in the tank if it was needed.

Similar can be said for their 57 completions of 20+ yards, which ranked ninth in the league. When Rodgers did go deep, they were highly effective and the average yards gained on those throws was 33.1, third best in the NFL.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling emerged as an impressive deep threat, averaging 44.8 yards per catch on the 10 of those 20+ yard plays he accounted for. His overall record of 20.9 yards per reception from 33 catches was the NFL's best.

The Packers' run game was strong, with 134.2 yards per game good for eighth in the NFL, while they were 16th for runs of 10+ yards with 49 such plays. Running backs contributed in the pass game too, with only Adams and tight end Robert Tonyan having more catches for the team than Aaron Jones' 47.

There may still be calls for Rodgers to be handed a stronger supporting cast, but after such an impressive year they may not be as loud this offseason, with attention perhaps better focused on other areas of the roster.

Defense

The Packers' defense was better than average in 2020 and, with a rampant Rodgers leading the offense, a defensive unit like that is all you need to contend.

In terms of headline numbers, they were ninth in yards allowed (334) and 13th in points allowed (23.1). The pass defense was seventh in yards per game (221), while they were 13th against the run.

Green Bay registered 41 sacks (10th), allowed 5.49 yards per play (14th) and their opponents’ scoring efficiency was 16th in the NFL, so you need to dive deeper to before finding anything alarming.

One area for improvement is the need for more game-changing plays. The Packers had 18 takeaways, putting them in a tie for 25th, while they only forced 26 rushing plays to result in negative yardage (tied for 28th).

A bend but do not break defensive strategy appears to have largely fared well, but playmakers can change those one-off postseason games where the margins are so fine, and the Packers do not have too many of those.

On the plus side, the defense allowed just 48 big plays of 20+ yards (third in the NFL).

However, nine of those went for TDs and Green Bay fans will not forget cornerback Kevin King's struggles against the Bucs in a hurry.

Pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith was not as productive as last year but still registered team-leading figures of 12.5 sacks, 12 TFL and 23 QB hits.

He could do with improved support up front, while the spot opposite lockdown cornerback Jaire Alexander looks like one which could do with reinforcing.

On the whole, there is room for improvement but a solid base to build from.

Offseason

Green Bay are not flush with cash as they enter the offseason around $4.5million over the estimated cap ($185m).

On the plus side, they do not have too many top contributors hitting free agency.

Retaining or replacing one of the NFL's top centers, Corey Linsley, is a key priority.

Both running backs, Jones and Jamaal Williams, are also poised to hit the market, so it may be difficult to retain both of them, especially if they want to justify drafting AJ Dillon in round two a year ago. He only played 97 offensive snaps in the regular season.

King did his free agency hopes few favours in the playoffs, while offensive line may be an area of focus after the departure of tackle Rick Wagner, who played in every game and started nine.

In terms of incomings, with limited funds Green Bay will need to pick their spots but will know a star veteran could make all the difference.

With Rodgers in fine fettle and with LaFleur overseeing a team proven to be contenders, you can expect them to be connected with any high-profile free agents who hit the open market.

That has already been the case with recently released Houston Texans icon J. J. Watt, who ultimately joined the Arizona Cardinals.

After his heroics last year, Pack fans will think any impactful signings the front office can make will be a deserving reward for Rodgers, who is back at the top of his game.

Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers said he is honoured to be named MVP after being crowned the NFL's best player for a third time.

Rodgers capped a stellar 2020 regular season by receiving another Most Valuable Player award on Saturday, having also reigned supreme in 2011 and 2014.

The Packers fell short in the NFC Conference Game, beaten by Super Bowl finalists the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but veteran quarterback Rodgers still enjoyed a memorable campaign.

Rodgers amassed 48 touchdowns, five interceptions and a completion rate of 70.7 per cent for the Packers this season.

His quarterback rating of 121.5 puts him second on the all-time list among qualifiers, behind only his 2011 campaign (122.5).

In total, Rodgers completed 372 of 526 attempts for 4,299 yards as the Packers topped the NFC North with a 13-3 record to clinch home-field advantage and the top seed in the NFC playoffs for the first time since 2011.

"It's an honour to win this award for the third time," Rodgers said in a pre-pared video acceptance speech. "2020 was definitely a crazy year filled with lots of change, growth, some amazing memorable moments, 180 straight days of having my nose hairs scraped, playing for very little fans or no [fans] the entire season. I got engaged, and I played some of the best football of my career. "

The 37-year-old Rodgers is now level with Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, Packers great Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown with three MVP honours – only Peyton Manning (five) has more in NFL history.

"The guys on that list are guys I grew up watching, idolising," Rodgers said. "To join that list of guys who've won it more than twice is pretty special."

Rodgers became the first QB to lead the league in the categories of touchdown passes, completion percentage, passer rating and interception percentage (1.0) in the same season since 1992, when Steve Young won the first of his two MVPs.

"To have won it in my fourth year as a starter was very special, and now to win it in my 13th year as a starter, in a new offense, is pretty amazing and something I'm really proud of," Rodgers said.

"To have sustained success and to be playing your best football at 37, in my 16th season, is something I take a lot of pride in."

Rodgers added: "I'm really thankful for my team-mates, the way that they played this year. It's so much fun being called upon to be a leader of this football team.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity to still be here, to still be the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.

"The success we had this year made the season a lot of fun at a time when there was a lot of turmoil and protocols around coronavirus.

"So I'm thankful for all my guys, all the support from them, having my back, listening to me, questioning me, having great conversations, growing together on the field, and then going out and putting up big-time performances."

If Aaron Rodgers intended to make a statement in the 2020 season, he could hardly have done so more emphatically.

The quarterback's future in Green Bay became a hot topic in the offseason when the franchise surprisingly used their first-round pick in the 2020 draft to seemingly choose his replacement. 

Selecting Jordan Love was obviously part of the long-term plan for the Packers, but Rodgers – who may have hoped for an upgrade in weapons, rather than an apprentice to watch and learn while waiting in the wings – showed he is no mood to relinquish the starting job in a hurry. 

Winning the MVP award for a third time in his career may not ease the disappointment of his team missing out on the Super Bowl, but it is a thoroughly deserved honour following a season that suggests, even at 37, he may just be better than ever. 

The basic numbers are impressive enough: 48 touchdowns, five interceptions and a completion rate of 70.7 per cent. His quarterback rating of 121.5 puts him second on the all-time list among qualifiers, just behind... Aaron Rodgers. His 2011 campaign sits top at 122.5, though that year he threw fewer touchdowns (45) and one extra pick. 

Dig a little deeper, though, and you see just why the members of the Associated Press voted the signal-caller as the most valuable player during the regular season. 

 

Old dog, new records

Conventional wisdom suggests Rodgers' career should, at his age, be winding down towards a conclusion. However, the man who helped defeat Rodgers and the Packers in the NFC Championship Game, 43-year-old Tom Brady, has redefined the limits for quarterbacks seemingly in their final years in the game.

And Rodgers produced some NFL firsts as he led Green Bay to the best record in the conference.

No player in NFL history had previously managed to complete at least 70 per cent of their pass attempts while managing a passer rating of at least 120.0 in a season - until this year.

Displaying a devastating ability to carve up defenses while doing a superb job of protecting the football, Rodgers also became the first quarterback to have 40 or more touchdowns while throwing five or fewer interceptions. Two of those picks were in Week 5 against the Buccaneers, the only outing in which he failed to manage a scoring pass.

Davante Adams was, unsurprisingly, his favourite option. The wide receiver was targeted 149 times - putting him fourth on the list for the entire league, behind only Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson.

Running back Aaron Jones was second for the Packers with 63 targets, but Rodgers was willing to share the ball around. On the roster, nine players made it to double figures, among them receiving duo Marquez Valdes-Scantling (63) and Allen Lazard (46), who both finished with 33 catches. Breakout tight end Robert Tonyan, meanwhile, caught all but seven of his 59 targets.

Hat-trick hero

Though Rodgers could not get the better of Brady in either the regular season or the playoffs, he did at least emulate an achievement the six-time Super Bowl champion pulled off during the season widely considered as his greatest.

Rodgers had 12 games with at least three passing touchdowns, tied for the most in a single campaign in NFL history. Brady had reached that same tally in 2007, when he scorched defenses across the league in leading the New England Patriots to an unbeaten 16-0 regular season.

Yet even Brady at that 2007 zenith could not produce what Rodgers did in 10 games in 2020, as he reached double figures with at least three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Of course, it is significantly easier to protect the football when playing with a lead - and Rodgers' extraordinary first-half performances ensured the Packers did a lot of that this season on their way to a second successive 13-3 record under head coach Matt LaFleur.

Stunning in the second quarter

Rodgers threw an incredible 70.8 per cent of his touchdown passes in the opening half, with his total of 34 scores the most ever in an NFL season. The second quarter was clearly his favourite too, with 25 TDs also a new record for a single quarter.

Those remarkable numbers were fuelled partially by Rodgers' dominance over the rest of the NFC North, which was illustrated by him throwing 20 touchdowns with no interceptions in six games against division opponents. No other player has reached that number and avoided being picked off in divisional match-ups.

With the Minnesota Vikings the only realistic threat in the NFC North as the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions plot their next moves at the quarterback, there is no immediate sign of the Packers' grip on the division loosening.

So while Rodgers pondered his future in the aftermath of the Packers' postseason exit, the reality is that, as long as he has the ability to perform at his 2020 levels and Green Bay have control of the NFC North, there is little reason for the newly crowned MVP to look elsewhere to fulfil his ambition of winning a second Lombardi Trophy.

Love may well end up being the future starter for Green Bay, but there is little reason to suggest they are about to move on from a franchise legend just yet.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been crowned the NFL's MVP for a third time.

Rodgers was honoured during Saturday's awards – on the eve of Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – as he added to his 2011 and 2014 MVPs.

The 37-year-old is now level with Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, Packers great Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown with three Most Valuable Player honours – only Peyton Manning (five) has more in NFL history.

The Packers fell short in the NFC Conference Game, beaten by Super Bowl finalists the Buccaneers, but Rodgers still enjoyed a memorable campaign.

Packers star Rodgers amassed 48 touchdowns, five interceptions and a completion rate of 70.7 per cent this season.

His quarterback rating of 121.5 puts him second on the all-time list among qualifiers, behind only his 2011 campaign (122.5).

In total, Rodgers completed 372 of 526 attempts for 4,299 yards as the Packers topped the NFC North with a 13-3 record to clinch home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Rodgers – a Super Bowl champion during the 2010 season – featured in his first NFC title decider at Lambeau Field, but the Packers fell to Brady's Buccaneers 31-26.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald won the Defensive Player of the Year for a third time.

Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt had been tipped to win the award, but Donald maintained his dominance, having also reigned supreme in 2017 and 2018.

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski claimed the Coach of the Year award after leading the franchise to their first postseason victory in 25 years.

Not since the 1994 season had the Browns won a playoff matchup, until upstaging the Steelers before losing to the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round.

 

List of NFL Honors

Rookie of the Year: Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert
Defensive Player of the Year: Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert
Offensive Player of the Year: Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Washington DE Chase Young
Comeback Player of the Year: Washington QB Alex Smith
Coach of the Year: Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski
Most Valuable Player: Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has insisted that Aaron Rodgers will be the team's quarterback for next season and beyond. 

Rodgers still has three years remaining on a four-year, $134million extension he signed in August 2018, but his future with the team came into question after comments he made following the 31-26 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game. 

"He's going to be a part of our future, and we look forward to all the runs we're going to be able to make here over the next few years," Gutekunst said Monday during a Zoom call. 

"I will say this: We're really excited not only for next year but the years to come. He's playing at such a high level that he always has, and I think this year was a special team.

"It didn't finish like we wanted to finish, but I think everybody's purely motivated to get back and I think, like I said, I don't think there's anything that we have to do. He's our quarterback, and he's our leader." 

After the game against the Bucs on January 24, Rodgers said: ''There's a lot of guys' futures that are uncertain, myself included.'' 

Two days later, the 37-year-old tried to squash any rumour that he would not be returning to Green Bay. ''I don't think there's any reason why I wouldn't be back," he said on SiriusXM Radio's The Pat McAfee Show.

Led by Rodgers, the Packers completed a second straight 13-3 season in 2020, while winning a seventh NFC North crown since 2011. The team averaged an NFL-best 31.8 points per game - second highest in franchise history behind the 35.0 points per game averaged by the 2011 team.  

''Obviously he's under contract, and he's playing at an extremely high level,'' Gutekunst said. ''What we're trying to do as an organization and what we're trying to accomplish, we can't do without Aaron Rodgers right now. He's such a part of what we've done. He's such a part of what we're doing right now and certainly in the future.'' 

Rodgers helped Green Bay to a fourth NFC championship game in the last seven seasons, but the Packers are winless in NFC title games since Rodgers lead the franchise to its fourth Super Bowl championships in the 2010 season. 

Despite the postseason shortcomings, Packers coach Matt LaFleur echoed Gutekunst's viewpoint when asked about Rodgers being his quarterback. 

"Is that a trick question?" LaFleur said. "Absolutely. There's no doubt about it."

The subject of Rodgers' future in Green Bay began back in April when the Packers traded up to draft Utah State quarterback Jordan Love with the 26th pick of the first round. 

Rodgers' play on the field, however, has not given the Packers any reason to turn the keys of the offense over to Love. 

The favourite to win a third NFL MVP award this Saturday, Rodgers threw for a league-leading and career-best 48 touchdowns to just five interceptions this past season. He also threw for 4,299 yards to become the first QB in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards with 45 or more TD passes and five or fewer interceptions in a season. 

''You're talking about the guy that's going to win the MVP of the league,'' LaFleur said. ''We're not in this position without him.

"I couldn't be happier with just not only his performance but how he led our football team, all the little things he does within that locker room to ensure that everybody is locked in, focused and ready to go. Absolutely he will be here for a long time.'' 

Fortune favours the bold. It is a phrase has been used so often that it has become a worn-out cliche. But cliches are cliches because they consistently ring true, and that famous Latin proverb applied at Lambeau Field on Sunday as the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers suffered more playoff heartache.

Their forlorn efforts in last year's NFC Championship game rout at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers still fresh in their minds - defensive coordinator Mike Pettine showed the game to his group last week in an attempt at motivation - the Packers reached the same stage this season seemingly well placed to put those memories behind them and reach Super Bowl LV.

The top seed in the NFC, the Packers matched up significantly better with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers than they did the Niners last year and had the potentially crucial advantage of playing in freezing conditions at Lambeau Field in front of 8,500 fans.

And yet, with the chance to force a compelling back-and-forth encounter into overtime, the Packers - specifically their head coach Matt LaFleur - shied away from the opportunity, taking a conservative approach that ultimately proved their undoing.

LaFleur's costly caution

Green Bay faced a fourth and goal from the Tampa Bay eight-yard line trailing 31-23 with a little over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

If LaFleur had needed evidence of how to approach this situation, it came at the end of the first half when, rather than punting and settling for a 14-10 half-time lead, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians went for it on fourth down and, a play after converting to keep the drive alive, gave Tom Brady the green light to launch a 39-yard bomb to Scotty Miller that put Tampa Bay 21-10 to the good.

Rodgers and the Green Bay defense helped the Packers recover from a 28-10 third-quarter deficit and move into striking distance. However, when it came time to make a crucial decision, LaFleur ignored the old axiom and instead opted for caution, taking the ball out of the hands of his best player as he elected to kick a field goal and trust his defense to get the ball back.

It was a task that proved beyond them as a contentious pass interference penalty gave Tampa a game-sealing first down, leaving Rodgers to reflect on another year in which the Packers came up short.

Wondrous Rodgers

LaFleur's rejection of the aggressive approach that served Arians well at the end of the second quarter ensured that one of the best seasons of Rodgers' Hall of Fame career was wasted.

Rodgers is a near-lock to win the third MVP of his career after a season in which he took an offense of the Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay ilk to new heights.

He led the league in completion percentage 70.7, threw for 4,299 yards, a league-leading 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

His TD-INT ratio of 9.60 was the sixth-best in NFL history and second among quarterbacks to have played 16 games in a season, behind his 2018 mark of 12.50.

Tied for third in the NFL with 37 passing plays of 25 yards or more, few offenses were more explosive than that of the Packers in 2020, with Rodgers' adjusted net yards per attempt figure of 8.89 tied for sixth of all-time.

That is the same number Patrick Mahomes posted in his 2018 MVP season and, just like the Kansas City Chiefs that year, the end result for the Packers was a devastating loss.

Unlike the Chiefs, the Packers now face the prospect of significant changes in the offseason that could impact their ability to continue to contend in the NFC.

A challenging offseason

In an offseason where the salary cap could shrink to $175million, the Packers may lose center Corey Linsley and running back Aaron Jones to free agency, while Davante Adams, who led the NFL in receiving touchdowns (18) and yards per game (98.1) in the regular season, is a candidate for a lucrative contract extension.

The Packers, therefore, face some tough decisions in the offseason and it is the lack of clarity over how the team will look in the immediate future that seemingly led Rodgers to describe his own future as "uncertain" in his post-game media conference. 

Rodgers may have been over-dramatic in the heat of the moment and another season with the Packers appears more likely than a move elsewhere or his retirement.

But the downcast attitude Rodgers presented after the game was indicative of a quarterback who knows that Super Bowl windows are, for most teams, ephemeral by their nature.

With his fourth-down call, LaFleur ensured another year of the Packers' window slipped through their fingers. If they now struggle to keep a formidable team together and Rodgers' career ends without a second Super Bowl ring, LaFleur's rejection of the bold will be remembered as a key reason why.

Matt LaFleur "sure as hell" hopes Aaron Rodgers returns to play for the Green Bay Packers next season amid doubts over his future after falling short of the Super Bowl, describing the star quarterback as the "heart and soul of our football team".

Rodgers indicated his future is uncertain following Green Bay's 31-26 loss to Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Favourite to be crowned the NFL's MVP, Rodgers was appearing in his first NFC title decider at Lambeau Field as he and the top-seeded Packers looked to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since reigning supreme in the 2010 season.

But the Packers fell short – 37-year-old quarterback Rodgers completing 33 of 48 passes for 346 yards, three touchdowns and an interception at home to the Buccaneers.

Asked if Rodgers will be back next season, Packers head coach LaFleur told reporters: "I sure as hell hope so. I mean, the guy is the MVP of this league.

"He's the heart and soul of our football team. So, hell yeah. He better be back here. He's our leader."

LaFleur was heavily criticised after his approach during the closing stages of the blockbuster contest against the Buccaneers.

Trailing by eight points with just over two minutes remaining, the Packers were unable to get into the endzone on three attempts from the eight-yard line.

Instead of taking the aggressive approach in backing Rodgers to pull Green Bay within a two-point conversion of tying the game at 31-31, the Packers elected to kick a field goal and while they reduced the deficit, they never got the ball back following a pass interference call on Kevin King.

"Yeah anytime it doesn't work out, you always regret it, right?" LaFleur said. "It was just the circumstances of having three shots and coming away with no yards and knowing that you not only need the touchdown but you need the two-point [conversion]. The way I was looking at it was, we essentially had four timeouts with the two-minute warning.

"We knew we needed to get a stop, and I thought we were going to have a stop there at the end but we got called for [defensive pass interference] and it didn't work out.

"I think anytime something doesn't work out, do you regret it? Sure, but we're always going to be process-driven here and the way our defense was battling, the way our defense was playing, it felt like it was the right decision to do. It just didn't work out."

Aaron Rodgers had no part in the decision to kick a field goal on fourth down of the Green Bay Packers' final drive in their 31-26 NFC Championship Game defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and indicated afterwards that his future is uncertain.

Down eight points with a little over two minutes remaining, the Packers were unable to get into the endzone on three attempts from the eight-yard line in Sunday's title decider.

Instead of taking the aggressive approach in backing star quarterback Rodgers to pull Green Bay within a two-point conversion of tying the game at 31-31, the top-seeded Packers elected to kick a field goal.

That cut the gap to 31-26 but the Packers never got the ball back, a pass interference penalty on Kevin King giving the Buccaneers a first down on the subsequent drive to effectively seal the game.

Asked about the fourth-down call, Rodgers – making his first conference championship game appearance at Lambeau Field – said he had no influence on head coach Matt LaFleur's thinking.

"It wasn't my decision, I understand the thinking, above two minutes with all of our timeouts, but it wasn't my decision," Rodgers, 37, told reporters post-game as Tom Brady's Buccaneers reached the Super Bowl.

Rodgers added of the penalty on King: "I think it was a bad call, I think there were a few opportunities for some plays down the field for us that weren't called.

"I was surprised that call in that situation was made. We get the ball back there with 1:35 [remaining] and a timeout and a chance to win the game, go to the Super Bowl, didn't look like it [Brady's pass] was even catchable. It was a bad call."

Though he will likely receive the MVP award next week, Rodgers – a Super Bowl champion with the Packers in the 2010 season – hinted his time in Green Bay could soon be coming to a close following a second successive defeat at the NFC Championship stage.

Last year's first-round pick Jordan Love is waiting in the wings as the two-time MVP's successor under center.

"I'm just pretty gutted, it's a long season, you put so much into it," said Rodgers. "We had our chances, it's a different position to the last couple of these where we got blown out and didn't really have a chance. We had a lot of chances.

"The uncertainty of it all, the abruptness, so many futures a little grey right now, so it's definitely sudden.

"A lot of guys' futures are uncertain, myself included. That's what's sad about it, getting this far, obviously there's going to be an end to it at some point.

"Just the uncertainty is tough, the finality of it all. There's a lot of unknowns going into this offseason and I'm going to have to take some time away for sure and clear my head and just kind of see what's going on with everything.

"It's pretty tough right now. It's really, really tough to get to this point, it's a grind just to get to this point and that makes the finality of it all kind of hit you like a tonne of bricks. I'll always be thankful for this season."

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