Back in late July, when reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers reported to Green Bay Packers training camp on time -- signaling an anticlimactic ending to his offseason standoff with the franchise -- the consensus was that 2021 would be his last season in their uniform. A potential 'Last Dance' campaign.
Rodgers hasn't made any guarantees about his future in the league. But the Packers -- which clinched a first-round bye for a third straight year -- are just two wins away from a Super Bowl appearance. And one of Rodgers' former teammates believes the veteran signal-caller will play for Green Bay in 2022, as he's strengthened his relationship with general manager Brain Gutekunst.
"I feel like this year has been very good for him. I've never seen him as happy and as joyful, enjoying the game as much as he has this year," former Packers fullback John Kuhn told The Zach Gelb Show on Thursday. "I just don't see a situation where Rodgers actually leaves. You can never say 100-percent with Rodgers. But I feel pretty confident -- especially if they put together a good run in this year's playoffs -- I don't see him leaving for greener pastures...
"I think he truly embraces the fact that Green Bay's in it for him. And whether he thought that before or not, that's up for debate. But I can't help but think he's really happy with the way management, the rest of the organization has treated him... I wouldn't say it's sucking up. It's become a mutual friendship between the two. Very clear they have a friendship now. Before, it may have just been considered professional. Now the two can see more, eye-to-eye..."
Rodgers, who turned 38 last month, once again performed at an MVP-caliber level for Green Bay this regular season. In 16 games, he threw for 4,115 yards with 37 touchdowns and just four interceptions, and hasn't allowed a single turnover since Week 10. Rodgers has also delivered while battling a broken left pinky toe, suffered in mid-November.
Rodgers comes with a hefty cap hit of $46 million in 2022 -- due to contract restructuring -- and if he plays out the season, he'd then be eligible for free agency during the 2023 league year. If he chooses to retire this offseason, however, he'd miss out on nearly $27 million in 2022.
Green Bay will host Rodgers' hometown team, the San Francisco 49ers, in a marquee divisional-round matchup on Saturday night (8:15 p.m. ET kickoff). According to FiveThirtyEight's projections, the Packers currently have a 75-percent chance to reach the NFC title game and a league-high 25-percent chance to win Super Bowl 56 in Los Angeles.
The entire Packers conversation between Kuhn and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.