By STEVE MEGARGEE, AP Sports activities Author
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers mentioned he is unsure what his future holds in Inexperienced Bay. That was all it took to lift considerations in regards to the Packers’ potential to contend in 2021 and past.
Inexperienced Bay earned the highest seed within the NFC behind an All-Professional season from Rodgers, who at age 37 put his staff in best place to win its first Tremendous Bowl for the reason that 2010 season and the second of his good profession.
However the Packers’ season ended with a dispiriting 31-26 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Sunday’s NFC championship recreation, and it did not take lengthy for questions in regards to the staff’s long-term dedication to Rodgers to resurface.
After the Packers’ fourth NFC title recreation loss in seven seasons, Rodgers mentioned “loads of guys’ futures are unsure, myself included.” Rodgers has three years remaining on the four-year, $118 million extension he signed in August 2018, however the two-time MVP has acknowledged on a number of events that his hopes of ending his profession in Inexperienced Bay had been sophisticated by the Packers’ resolution to pick out Utah State quarterback Jordan Love within the 2020 draft.
“There’s loads of unknowns going into this offseason now,” Rodgers mentioned. “I’m going to must take a while away for certain and clear my head and simply type of see what’s occurring with every thing. Nevertheless it’s fairly powerful proper now, particularly interested by the blokes who could or might not be right here subsequent yr. There’s all the time change. That’s the one fixed on this enterprise.”
Assuming Rodgers returns, the staff round him may look fairly totally different. The Packers’ listing of potential free brokers consists of working backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, All-Professional heart Corey Linsley and cornerback Kevin King.
Linsley was requested Monday in regards to the progress of contract negotiations.
“My agent hasn’t had any talks with the Packers,” Linsley mentioned. “That’s clearly to not say one thing couldn’t occur, however up up to now it’s type of been complimentary however nothing of substance.”
The Packers boasted one of many league’s high offensive strains this season thanks partly to All-Professional left deal with David Bakhtiari, who suffered a season-ending knee damage on Dec. 31. The Packers initially thrived with out Bakhtiari, as they allowed only one sack in a win at Chicago and none in a playoff victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Bakhtiari’s absence was rather more noticeable Sunday. The Bucs recorded 5 sacks, matching their output from their 38-10 regular-season victory over the Packers. Inexperienced Bay allowed a complete of 16 sacks in its different 16 video games.
TOUGH FINISH FOR KING, JONES
If this was the final recreation in Packers uniforms for King and Jones, it is going to be a troublesome manner for them to exit.
King performed by a again damage that had prevented him from training Friday. He was crushed on two landing passes — together with a 39-yarder to Scotty Miller with 1 second left till halftime — and dedicated a pass-interference penalty that helped the Bucs run out the clock.
Jones, who gained greater than 3,000 yards from scrimmage and scored 30 touchdowns over the previous two seasons, fumbled early within the second half to arrange a Bucs landing. He suffered a chest damage on the play that knocked him out for the remainder of the sport.
Inexperienced Bay had the NFL’s finest red-zone offense this season, although the Packers referred to it because the “gold zone” resulting from offensive coordinator Nathanial Hackett’s love of the film “Austin Powers in Goldmember.”
That magic was lacking Sunday because the Packers twice settled for discipline objectives after having first-and-goal. Rodgers was 2 of 9 with two landing passes in goal-to-go performs Sunday. Via the primary 17 video games of the season, he had been 41 of 59 with 31 touchdowns and no interceptions in these conditions.
“Everybody’s clearly simply very dissatisfied, very harm,” broad receiver Allen Lazard mentioned Monday. “Everybody thinks that they in all probability may’ve performed one thing higher sooner or later within the recreation that will’ve had a greater outcome, however the fact is we’re sitting right here immediately. So we’ve obtained to have the ability to bottle that up and maintain shifting ahead.”
Packers coach Matt LaFleur is 26-6 in his two seasons, and regardless of questions on his late-game selections in opposition to Tampa Bay, he stays one of many vibrant younger minds within the NFL and is not going wherever.
LaFleur has had the identical coordinators — Hackett, Mike Pettine (protection) and Shawn Mennenga (particular groups) for his first two seasons. Now he should determine whether or not to convey them again.
The NFC championship recreation mirrored the occasional inconsistency of Inexperienced Bay’s protection beneath Pettine. The Packers intercepted three of Tom Brady’s passes and allowed solely three factors within the final 28 1/2 minutes of the sport, however additionally they gave up that lengthy landing move simply earlier than halftime.
Inexperienced Bay’s most notable flaw throughout its seven-game streak was its occasional tendency to have a breakdown on particular groups.
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