The Packers and Aaron Rodgers have made no decisions on sitting down the four-time NFL MVP quarterback if Green Bay is eliminated from playoff contention -- a scenario that the team and Rodgers would work through together in the coming weeks, per sources.
Rodgers will start today against the Bears despite the fractured thumb on his throwing hand that he's been playing through since early October, plus a rib contusion suffered in last week’s loss at Philadelphia. X-rays at the stadium and a subsequent CT scan revealed no broken or fractured ribs to Rodgers, sources say. And while Rodgers continues to have pain, he's extremely tough and said last Tuesday he intended to play, despite Green Bay's 4-8 record and waning postseason hopes.
The Packers have their bye week in Week 14, providing time to evaluate everything -- including the playoff picture and Rodgers' health after a week off -- before having any conversations about potentially playing former first-round draft pick Jordan Love down the stretch. And Rodgers, who has praised the improved communication with team brass since the drama of the 2021 offseason, would have a big voice in that decision. If Rodgers wants to play and feels physically able, it's a good bet he'll continue to play.
While there would be value in getting Love game action, the Packers don't really need it to influence their decision-making or evaluate a player they traded up to select 26th overall in the 2020 draft. They've seen his progress over three years in practice -- improvement that was on display when he relieved an injured Rodgers against the Eagles, completing 6 of 9 passes for 113 yards and one touchdown.
Rodgers, who has played through all sorts of injuries in his career, said he left the game out of concern he might have a punctured lung, given his struggles turning and breathing. Rodgers experimented with different pads this week and likely will wear something to protect his ribs in the game against the Bears on Sunday. An injection also is an option to numb the pain. If Rodgers continues to have more or different pain after the game, they could run additional tests during the bye.
Rodgers turned 39 this week and is due nearly $60 million in fully guaranteed salary and bonuses in 2023 as part of the contract extension he signed in March, giving him control over how and where his career ends. He has considered retirement in recent years and said recently he wouldn't make a decision until after this season ends.
Love, 24, is signed for the 2023 season under his rookie contract, and the Packers have until early May to pick up his fifth-year option for 2024.
"Look, I'd love to finish the season out," Rodgers said last week, "but I understand this is a business and there's a lot of us kind of older guys who play a decent amount, and they might want to see some younger guys play. Hopefully we don't have to have that conversation, but if that conversation comes up, I'll approach it with an open mind without any bitterness or resentment. Obviously, like I said, I want to win out, and then we don't have to have those conversations.
"But I understand if we don't, that it's a possibility to have that conversation."