Tuesday's NFL: Aaron Rodgers says he still hasn't decided on his 2022 plans
Green Bay, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers says he's still making up his mind about whether he wants to return to the Green Bay Packers next season.
“There will be no news today,” the four-time MVP quarterback said Tuesday on “The Pat McAfee Show” on YouTube and SiriusXM. “No decision on my future.”
Rodgers said after the season that he would try to make a decision about his 2022 plans in relatively short order rather than dragging out the process. The reigning MVP said at the time that he hadn't ruled out any option, including returning to the Packers for an 18th season, retiring or requesting a trade.
When Rodgers sent out an Instagram post late Monday night thanking current and former teammates and coaches among others, it raised speculation that an announcement on his future could be forthcoming. Rodgers said Tuesday he just wanted to show some gratitude to people who have helped him over the past year.
“I just came out of a 12-day cleanse where you're eating a specific diet and you're going through these treatments every day and you're not really doing anything else,” Rodgers said during his 40-minute conversation.
“You've got to kind of turn everything else off, so you're not working out, you're not straining or anything. It's kind of a re-centering. It not only heals you physically, but I think it takes away mental stress and then the spiritual part I think is it allows you to kind of enjoy the meditations a little more, so when I come out, my first thought is intense gratitude for the people in my life.”
Rodgers won his second straight MVP award less than two weeks ago. The Packers went 13-4 in the regular season and won a third straight NFC North title before losing 13-10 at home to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional playoffs.
After the season, Rodgers talked about making a decision by the time the free agency period begins next month. He continues to point out the importance of getting this done soon.
“I get it,” Rodgers said. “There's not a lot to talk about football-wise and this will be a topic of conversation. But I am looking forward to making a decision and moving forward. I think it's best for me. It's best for the team. It's best for all parties involved. Let's just get this behind us.”
The 38-year-old Rodgers did offer the Packers some reason for optimism.
He said he enjoyed the postseason conversations he had with team officials such as coach Matt LaFleur, general manager Brian Gutekunst and executive vice president/director of football operations Russ Ball.
“The meetings were much different than they were in the past, in a positive way,” Rodgers said. “There were some real honest conversations that I appreciate.”
He wants to avoid a repeat of 2021, when his status with the team was uncertain until the start of training camp.
Rodgers reported for training camp on time last summer after skipping their mandatory minicamp, but he acknowledged his future with the organization was uncertain. At the time, he said he wanted more of a voice in the team’s decision-making process.
His relationship with Packers management improved over the course of the season. Rodgers said it started with a meeting he had with Gutekunst shortly after arriving for training camp.
“I feel like that was kind of the first step to having a real free-flowing conversation and friendship,” Rodgers said. “I'm definitely thankful for the work that he put in on the relationship, and Russ Ball as well. Matt and I, I believe every year we get closer and more connected and feel better about our communication."
Rodgers said he also had to make some adjustments.
“It wasn't a one-way street," Rodgers said. “I knew that I had to grow as well. I had to be more comfortable with those conversations, with being responsive to them in a super-timely manner, trying to find kindness in the adverse moments or difficult conversations we had. I feel like we all grew and had a good year of communication, had nice conversations after the season. I felt really good at how that got tied up before I left town.”
LaFleur and president/CEO Mark Murphy had said after the season they wanted Rodgers back in 2022. They indicated that was a unanimous decision among the team’s main decision-makers.
The Packers seemed to make a move aimed at keeping Rodgers last week with the hiring of quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, who previously worked with the team from 2006-16. Rodgers said Tuesday that he owes Clements “so much credit for my development” and added that “the game is better when Tom Clements is coaching because he's one of those special, special coaches.”
Judge: Deshaun Watson depositions can begin in assault suits
Houston — A judge has declined efforts by attorneys for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson to delay all his depositions in connection with lawsuits filed by 22 women who have accused him of sexual assault and harassment.
During a court hearing on Monday, defense attorney Rusty Hardin had asked that depositions in the case be delayed until after an ongoing criminal investigation of the allegations against Watson concluded.
Hardin said Houston police have already forwarded their findings to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and he believed a grand jury could make a decision in the case by April 1. Eight of the women filed criminal complaints against Watson. The FBI is also reviewing the allegations.
“I know that Deshaun is more than willing to give his testimony and to give depositions. I’m saying as his lawyer I think it would be crazy to allow it until we know what’s going to happen on the criminal side,” Hardin said.
In their lawsuits, the 22 women accuse Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will during massage appointments.
Watson and his lawyers have denied the accusations. His lawyers have said “some sexual activity” happened during some of the appointments but that he never coerced anyone.
Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the 22 women, argued that most of the women have already given their depositions and it was only fair for Watson to be deposed according to an agreed upon schedule. A previous court order has set Watson’s depositions to begin on Thursday.
“You would think that someone who’s legal team has called every one of these women liars, has criticized me and has loudly declared his completely innocence would be ready to speak publicly under oath as he originally agreed,” Buzbee said. “But instead, he ducks and runs for cover.”
Judge Rabeea Collier ruled that those women who did not file a criminal complaint against Watson can have their lawyer depose the quarterback while the others will have to wait until after April 1.
Buzbee said he expected depositions of Watson on behalf of nine of the women to begin within 10 days.
“Mr. Watson can continue to seek delay but it’s inevitable that he will eventually and ultimately have to answer questions about his conduct under oath,” Buzbee said.
Hardin said while there is still an ongoing criminal investigation, “it is only fair” to wait and see if it results in any charges before having Watson give a deposition.
“I’m hoping and trusting that the public will listen to us when we say he didn’t do what he is accused of doing. I’m hopeful and trust that’ll be the conclusion of a grand jury,” Hardin said.
Watson’s lawyers have sought to balance their defense of the NFL star while simultaneously condemning sexual violence against women.
But Watson’s attorneys have called the lawsuits against him a “money grab” and fired back that all 22 women who have filed suit are lying, a strategy some experts and advocates say relies on long-used tropes designed to minimize such accusations. Buzbee has said some of his clients have faced criticism and even death threats.
Watson’s future with the Texans remains unclear.
Even before the lawsuits were first filed in March, Watson had asked to be traded. The trade request and the lawsuits kept Watson out all last season.
Landry tells Browns he wants to stay, but "ball" with team
Browns five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry, slowed by injuries last season, has told the team he's hoping to stay but is ready to move on if necessary.
In a series of Twitter posts Tuesday, Landry, who is entering his final year under contract, addressed his uncertain future with Cleveland.
“I have put the ball in CLE court by telling them I would like to stay but if not then I’m confident enough in myself to be a better healthy me this year and moving forward to helping do my part in winning a championship elsewhere,” Landry wrote.
Because he's scheduled to make $15.1 million next season, the Browns may ask Landry to restructure his contract. The sides are expected to meet at next week's NFL combine in Indianapolis.
When the Browns made the 2020 playoffs after decades of ineptitude, Landry was instrumental in helping improve the culture. He came to Cleveland in a 2018 trade with Miami, where he was one of the league's most consistent pass catchers for four seasons.