Aaron Rodgers’ timeline with Packers, ending in trade to Jets

Aaron Rodgers' timeline with Packers, ending in trade to Jets
Aaron Rodgers' timeline with Packers, ending in trade to Jets

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on May 13, 2021, and has been updated with the latest events leading to Monday’s trade to the Jets.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – We’ve come to the end of the Aaron Rodgers era with the Green Bay Packers. In reality, this was just the finality of it. The beginning of the end was back in 2020.

That’s when general manager Brian Gutekunst drafted quarterback Jordan Love in the first round.

From then on, the question wasn’t how Rodgers’ tenure with the Packers would end, but how soon.

Turned out, it was less than three years later.

And what a topsy-turvy time it was.

In between, Rodgers won consecutive NFL MVP awards in 2020 and 2021, polarized his fan base with a controversial take on COVID vaccinations and then went out with a whimper in 2022 by missing the playoffs.

Now that the 39-year-old Rodgers’ 18-season career with the Packers is over, following Monday’s trade agreement between the Packers and New York Jets, here is a look at how it reached this point:

April 18, 2019: The Packers host Missouri quarterback Drew Lock, one of the top prospects in the 2019 draft, on a pre-draft visit. The news comes as a surprise even though Rodgers is the same age (35) that Favre was when the Packers drafted Rodgers in 2005. Still, Rodgers had never done the Favre/retirement waffling and had repeatedly expressed a desire to play into his 40s.

Aaron Rodgers' timeline with Packers, ending in trade to Jets

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March 2, 2021: Gutekunst is vague when asked whether restructuring Rodgers’ contract is an option. The Packers are still well over the salary cap at this point and end up restructuring several veteran deals.

March 20, 2021: The Packers don’t convert Rodgers’ $6.8 million roster bonus into a signing bonus, which would have given them more than $4.5 million in immediate salary-cap relief. Instead, a source said the bonus was “vested as scheduled.” Rodgers has an automatic conversion clause in his contract, but it still would have needed Rodgers’ signature to become official (which makes it worth questioning why it’s called an automatic conversion in the first place).

March 30, 2021: In the first public hint of serious trouble brewing, Murphy has a chance to diffuse things but does not. Instead, he refuses to say why a contract restructure never happened.

April 5, 2021: In what to date remains his last interview on the subject, Rodgers reiterates on “The Pat McAfee Show” nothing has changed in the year since the Packers picked Love. “That’s why I’ve used the phrase like ‘beautiful mystery,’ because it is quite uncertain which direction things are going to go,” Rodgers says. In the interview, Rodgers also mentions he would like to be considered for the full-time hosting position on “Jeopardy!” after his two-week stint as a guest host.

April 19, 2021: The Packers’ offseason program begins with four weeks of virtual meetings and workouts, but Rodgers does not report for the voluntary session.

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May 15, 2021: The Packers sign former Falcons practice squad quarterback Kurt Benkert, who was one of two quarterbacks to participate in the rookie minicamp that weekend. They started the week with two quarterbacks on the roster and now have four: Rodgers, Love, Bortles and Benkert.

May 24, 2021: Rodgers does not show up for the first day of OTAs. While the sessions are voluntary, Rodgers has always participated in the past. Later that night, he appears on “SportsCenter” for Kenny Mayne’s final show on ESPN and confirms that his beef is essentially with Packers management, saying he doesn’t have anything against Love, but “it’s just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting that it is about the people that make the thing go. It’s about character, it’s about culture, it’s about doing things the right way.”

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June 5, 2021: In another installment of his monthly column, Murphy wrote that “the situation we face with Aaron Rodgers has divided our fan base. The emails and letters that I’ve received reflect this fact.”

June 7, 2021: Rodgers does not show up for the start of the mandatory minicamp, officially making him a holdout. The Packers would not say whether they would hold Rodgers to the fines totaling to $93,085 and a day later coach Matt LaFleur said of Rodgers’ absence: “It is what it is, man.”

June 10, 2021: During a private event at Lambeau Field, Murphy calls Rodgers “a complicated fella,” paraphrasing something the late general manager Ted Thompson apparently said regarding Rodgers to Murphy. This came after Murphy wrote in his column that the less said about Rodgers, the better.

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July 6, 2021: During “The Match,” a made-for-TV golf event that featured Bryson DeChambeau and Rodgers against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady, Rodgers is noncommittal when asked whether he would play this season. “I don’t know … we’ll see,” he said.

July 10, 2021: At another celebrity golf event, the American Century Championship, Rodgers indicates he will make a decision soon about this season. “I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this week, and then I’m going to get back to working out and figure things out in a couple weeks.”

July 24, 2021: Rodgers and receiver Davante Adams, who reportedly called off contract negotiation talks with the Packers earlier in the week, put up matching posts on Instagram: a picture of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen from their final season together with the Chicago Bulls that was the subject of the ESPN documentary, “The Last Dance.”

July 26, 2021: One day before players are required to report for training camp, Schefter reports that the Packers offered concessions to try to persuade Rodgers to return for at least one more season and that the two sides were able to reach mutually-agreed-upon terms that would set up Rodgers for a possible exit from the Packers following the 2021 season. Earlier in the day, Murphy admits to reporters that the situation has been “kind of a pox on both houses, us and Aaron.”

Aug. 26, 2021: Rodgers, when asked during a news conference if he was vaccinated against COVID-19, says: “Yeah, I’ve been immunized,” which creates little or no buzz at the time.

Sept. 12, 2021: Rodgers throws two interceptions in the Packers’ 38-3 season-opening loss to the Saints. After the game, LaFleur calls the loss “absolutely embarrassing,” while Rodgers says “it’s just one game.” His nonchalant approach leads to criticism from some who accuse Rodgers of not being all-in.

Nov. 3, 2021: Rodgers tests positive for COVID-19 and is immediately ruled out of that Sunday’s game at Kansas City. It is revealed that the NFL has considered him unvaccinated after he appealed to have an alternate treatment be considered the same as being vaccinated.

Nov. 5, 2021: During an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Rodgers claims he did not lie about his vaccination status when asked about it on Aug. 26, and he says he has followed every COVID-19 protocol to a T – except for conducting his news conferences without a mask on.

Nov. 9, 2021: Three days after a local health care provider, Prevea, dropped Rodgers as a spokesperson, he admits on “The Pat McAfee Show” that he takes “full responsibility” if he misled people about his vaccination status. Later that night, the league fines Rodgers $14,650 for violating COVID-19 protocols for unvaccinated players.

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Dec. 25, 2021: Rodgers throws his 443rd career touchdown pass, breaking Brett Favre’s franchise record in a win over the Browns at Lambeau Field.

Jan. 2, 2022: Rodgers throws for 288 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 37-10 win over the Vikings that clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the playoffs with one game still remaining. It’s Rodgers’ sixth straight game with multiple touchdowns and no interceptions, tying for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Nearly half of those yards – 136 – went to Davante Adams.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers didn’t live up to their No. 1 seed in the playoffs as they lost to the 49ers in the divisional round. Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Jan. 22, 2022: Rodgers fails to throw a touchdown pass in the top-seeded Packers’ 13-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field, making it the first time since the 2010 NFC Championship Game that he did not throw at least one touchdown in a playoff game. After the game, he tells reporters that it will be a “tough decision” when asked whether he will play for the Packers next season.

Feb. 10, 2022: Rodgers wins his second straight NFL MVP and fourth overall for his regular season that featured 37 touchdowns and only four interceptions while helping the Packers to a third straight 13-win season and the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the second straight year. Afterward, he said he hadn’t yet made a decision about whether he wants to return to Green Bay, but he was “thankful” for the Packers, and made it clear there was no animosity involved in the decision.

March 8, 2022: Eight days before the start of free agency, Rodgers tells McAfee that he has decided to return to the Packers for the 2022 season. The two sides still need to work out the final details of a contract extension. But the Packers now can move forward with their plans to reload around Rodgers for another run at a Super Bowl.

March 15, 2022: Rodgers signs a three-year, $150 million contract extension that, based on the structure and amount of guaranteed money in the first two years, suggests he will play at least the next two seasons for the Packers. It contained a $40.8 million signing bonus. His 2023 pay of $59.465 million also is guaranteed.

March 17, 2022: The Packers trade All-Pro receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders for first- and second-round picks – a surprising turn of events after many considered Rodgers and Adams a package deal.

April 29, 2022: A day after the Packers pass on taking a receiver in the first round for the 20th straight year, Gutekunst trades up to take receiver Christian Watson with the second pick of the second round (No. 34 overall). He is the first of three receivers drafted this year with Romeo Doubs (fourth round) and Samori Toure (seventh) to follow. This after the Packers’ only receiver move in free agency is signing Sammy Watkins, who wouldn’t make it through the season.

June 7, 2022: Rodgers, after skipping most of the offseason program, reports for the team’s mandatory minicamp and during a session with reporters says that he “definitely” plans to finish his career with the Packers. The two minicamp practices would be the only times Rodgers would practice with the rookie receivers before training camp.

Aug. 16, 2022: Rodgers’ impatience with the Packers’ young receivers comes to a head after a series of poor training camp practices, with the QB saying: “You keep dropping the ball, you’re not going to be out there.” A day later, the coaches call a special meeting between the quarterbacks and the receivers in an effort to smooth things over.

Oct. 9, 2022: After a 3-1 start, the Packers lose to the Giants in London. After the game, Rodgers expresses disappointment in LaFleur’s postgame message of not letting one loss turn into two, which was shared publicly by cornerback Jaire Alexander. Rodgers also breaks his thumb on the final play of the game, although the severity of the injury is not revealed for several weeks.

Nov. 6, 2022: Rodgers throws three interceptions in a 15-9 loss at the Lions to run the Packers’ losing streak to five, saying afterward: “I had some s-ty throws, for sure.”

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Nov. 27, 2022: Rodgers leaves the game against the Eagles in the third quarter with a rib injury, and Love enters the game with the Packers trailing by two touchdowns. In his most extensive action of the season, Love leads a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives, but the Packers lose 40-33.

Nov. 30, 2022: Rodgers says he has no plans to shut it down but concedes that if the Packers don’t stay in the playoff race, the team might want to give Love a few starts, saying: “I understand if we don’t [stay in contention] that’s a possibility to have that conversation.”

Aaron Rodgers took a loss to the Detroit Lions in his last game with the Green Bay Packers, knocking them out of a playoff spot. Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Jan. 8, 2023: Rodgers throws an interception on his final pass in the Week 18 loss to the Lions that prevents the Packers from making the playoffs. When asked about playing next season, he says during an emotional postgame news conference: “At some point, the carousel comes to a stop and it’s time to get off, and I think you kind of know when that is.”

Jan. 13, 2023: When asked if he could look Rodgers in the eye and tell him the Packers wanted to move on without him, Gutekunst says: “If we were? Sure, absolutely … I think he deserves that, if we get to that point. We’re not at that point.”

Jan. 17, 2023: Less than eight months after Rodgers said he “definitely” planned to finish his career with the Packers, he opens the door to playing for another team in 2023 by telling McAfee: “If they want to go younger and think Jordan’s ready to go, then that might be the way they want to go. And if that’s the case and I still want to play, then there’s only one option, right? And that’s to play somewhere else.”

Jan. 24, 2023: Amidst reports that the Packers are considering trading Rodgers, he tells McAfee that he’s willing to rework his contract if he plays in 2023, whether that’s in Green Bay or somewhere else.

Jan. 29, 2023: Schefter reports that a Rodgers trade this offseason “remains an option” for the Packers, and that league sources believe the franchise “prefers to move on from Rodgers.”

Feb. 22, 2023: Rodgers emerges from a four-day “darkness retreat” in southern Oregon that he said he did in order to “have a better sense of where I’m at in my life.”

Feb. 28, 2023: Gutekunst says he has not had any recent contact with Rodgers and sounds noncommittal about Rodgers’ future with the team. During a lengthy session with reporters at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Gutekunst says: “Until we have those conversations, I think all options are on the table right now.”

March 7, 2023: Rodgers and the New York Jets engage in conversations about whether they would have a future together. It’s the first known instance of the Packers allowing Rodgers to speak to another team.

March 15, 2023: The Rodgers era in Green Bay unofficially ends after he reveals his desire to go to the Jets, telling McAfee: “I made it clear my intention was to play and to play for the Jets, and I haven’t been holding anything up.” Rodgers says the holdup in the deal is the Packers’ trade demands. A Packers team source says negotiations are “ongoing” but that the team will trade him.

April 24, 2023: The trade terms are agreed upon with the Packers and Jets swapping first-round picks, Green Bay getting No. 13 overall and the Jets getting No. 15, plus the Packers sending a fifth-round pick (No. 170 overall) to the Jets for New York’s second-round pick (No. 42), a sixth-round pick (No. 207) and a conditional 2024 second-round pick that will become a first-rounder if Rodgers takes 65% of the snaps this season. The news breaks shortly before Gutekunst’s previously scheduled pre-draft news conference, which means the paperwork still needs to be completed before he can comment on specifics, though he is happy to get the deal done before the draft, saying: “It wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but at the same time, I think it would have certainly changed things quite a bit. … I just think certainly the capital for this year was very important, certainly more valuable than future stuff, for our football team.”

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