Friday's NFL: Packers' Matt LaFleur wants Aaron Rodgers back 'in the worst way'
Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur reiterated his hope that he’d get to continue working with Aaron Rodgers this season while offering no news on the quarterback’s status.
“I’ve got nothing new to update, and we still obviously feel the same way,” LaFleur said Friday after the opening workout of the Packers’ rookie minicamp.
“We want him back in the worst way. I know he knows that and, you know, we’ll continue to work at it each and every day.”
After ESPN reported just before the draft that Rodgers doesn’t want to return to Green Bay, Packers CEO Mark Murphy posted a column on the team’s website in which he said “this is an issue that we’ve been working on for several months.” Murphy acknowledged that he, Gutekunst and coach Matt LaFleur had met with Rodgers “on a number of occasions” during the offseason.
Gutekunst has indicated he doesn’t plan to trade Rodgers, who has three years remaining on his contract. LaFleur said after the draft that he “can’t fathom” Rodgers not being in Green Bay.
The Packers addressed their quarterback depth Thursday by signing Blake Bortles, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett held the same position with Jacksonville during Bortles’ tenure as the Jaguars’ starting quarterback. Bortles spent the 2019 season and portions of 2020 with the Los Angeles Rams, who run a similar offense to Green Bay.
Until the Packers signed Bortles, the only quarterbacks on their roster were Rodgers and 2020 first-round draft pick Jordan Love. Tim Boyle, who backed up Rodgers last season, has since joined the Detroit Lions.
“You’re always going to have three if not four guys typically in an offseason program and in training camp,” LaFleur said. “(We liked) Blake’s familiarity with Hackett, with being in the Rams’ offense, with a lot of carryover in terminology and just his overall experience in this league. I mean this is a guy that started a lot of games and has had a lot of success.”
Two more quarterbacks — Kurt Benkert and Chad Kelly — were at the rookie minicamp Friday as tryout candidates.
Kelly appeared in one game in 2018 for the Denver Broncos, who selected him out of Mississippi with the final pick in the 2017 draft. Benkert signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia in 2018 but hasn’t played in an NFL game.
LaFleur was asked whether he’d have to go into offseason workouts preparing Love for the possibility of being the starter just in case the Rodgers’ situation doesn’t get rectified. Love didn’t play a single down during his rookie year as the Packers went 13-3 and lost in the NFC championship game for a second straight season.
“I’m not going to make any assumptions about anything at this point,” LaFleur said. “We’re just going to take it day by day. But I think every player on our roster has got to have the mentality that they’re going to be the guy. If not, when you do get your opportunity, you will not be prepared for it. So that is always what we stress to every player on this football team.
“In football, unfortunately there’s some uncontrolled circumstances that can happen, and you might be one play away from getting your opportunity. And in this league, you might only get one opportunity, so you better prepared for that.”
The NFL is not requiring fully vaccinated players and staff to wear masks at team facilities following the CDC’s latest guidance regarding COVID-19.
In a memo sent to clubs and obtained by The Associated Press, the league and the NFL Players Association made the modification after consulting with their medical and scientific experts. Players and tiered staff who haven’t been fully vaccinated must continue to wear masks until they receive it, if they plan to get it.
Clubs were told to review current and local state regulations and to have the vaccine available for players and staff.
“We expect additional modifications will be made to the protocols consistent with CDC guidelines reflecting the greatly reduced risk of viral infection and transmission in fully vaccinated individuals,” the memo read.
A person with knowledge of the details tells the AP that Broncos wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton sustained a serious knee injury while working out on his own.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Hamilton is suspected to have torn an ACL, as first reported by NFL Network.
That not only imperils his $2.183 million salary for 2021, but it also squelches trade talks for the fourth-year pro from Penn State.