On Feb. 12, 2019, Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury had this to say about quarterback Josh Rosen.
“Josh is our guy,” Kingsbury said.
Two-and-a-half months later, the Cardinals made Kyler Murray the first pick in the NFL Draft, then traded Rosen to Miami. Today, Rosen is on his fourth NFL team, a member of San Francisco’s practice squad.
On Nov. 11, 2020, then-Eagles coach Doug Pederson was asked about struggling quarterback Carson Wentz.
“Carson’s our guy,” Pederson insisted.
In mid-March, Wentz was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a third- and conditional second-round draft pick.
During a 30-minute press conference Monday, Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst was asked about the future of quarterback Aaron Rodgers on five different occasions.
Following the lead of Kingsbury and Pederson, Gutekunst said, “Aaron’s our guy.” For good measure, Gutekunst threw in, “He’s going to be our quarterback for the foreseeable future.”
Many inside Packer Nation — and plenty of media members — tried spinning this into a feel-good story in which Rodgers and the Packers will now live happily ever after.
What Gutekunst provided were vague, ambiguous answers. And in the case of Rodgers, they provided no clarity as to where he might be playing quarterback in 2022.
“What I will say is we’re really excited about Aaron Rodgers and his future with the Green Bay Packers,” Gutekunst said.
Rodgers’ future has been a hot-button topic since the Packers traded up to select Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Rodgers had arguably the best season of his career in 2020 and won his third career MVP. But Green Bay lost to Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship Game, 31-26, as Rodgers fell to 1-4 in conference title games.
Before the 2020 NFC Championship Game, Rodgers called his future “a beautiful mystery.” Then shortly after Tampa Bay defeated Green Bay in the conference title game, Rodgers said, “A lot of guys’ futures … are uncertain — myself included.”
That future became even more murky when the Packers maneuvered to get under the NFL’s salary cap of $182.5 million for 2021.
Green Bay restructured the contracts of six veteran players, but didn’t do anything with Rodgers’ deal. For now, Rodgers will count $37.5 million against the salary cap in 2021, more than any player in football.
Rodgers is signed through the 2023 season, but none of the remaining money is guaranteed. Therefore, if the Packers trade or release Rodgers after the 2021 season, they could pick up $22.6 million of salary cap relief.
“Even my comments directly after the last game … my future, really, a lot of it is out of my control,” Rodgers said on The Pat McAfee Show earlier this month. “That’s why I’ve used the phrase like ‘beautiful mystery,’ because it is quite uncertain which direction things are going to go.
“All I can do is play my best, and I think last season I did do that — which might have thrown a wrench into some timelines that might have been thought about or desired.”
Many general managers believe the best way to build a championship team is with a quarterback on a rookie deal where he’s making a fraction of what standout veterans earn.
That’s why first round quarterbacks such as Love typically play sooner rather than later. In fact, the last first round quarterback to sit for three full seasons was Rodgers himself from 2005-07.
What’s tricky for Green Bay is that it still has little to no idea what it has in Love. Due to the coronavirus, NFL teams lost much of the 2020 offseason, then there were no preseason games.
Love then spent the year as Green Bay’s No. 3 quarterback behind Rodgers and Tim Boyle, and never saw the field.
“We feel very good about what he was able to do in the small window of development that he had,” Gutekunst said in February. “But I think this preseason and moving forward are going to be very, very important.”
Boyle was a restricted free agent this offseason, and the Packers didn’t make him a tender offer. That means Love will jump up to No. 2 in 2021.
Will he jump to No. 1 by 2022?
Gutekunst did nothing to suppress that talk on Monday.