The Green Bay Packers' premature postseason exit forced the franchise to again face the future sooner than anticipated.
Similar to last offseason, the No. 1-seeded Packers face the uneviable task of overcoming the disappointment of falling short of another Super Bowl while waiting to see how Aaron Rodgers' future impacts the roster going into next season.
Team president and CEO Mark Murphy addressed the winding road ahead in his monthly column on the team's website. After sharing that he felt the Packers "wasted a great opportunity" by losing to the 49ers despite being heavy favorites, Murphy set his sights on what's next.
"We are significantly over the salary cap for next year, and will have to make many difficult decisions in order to get under the cap," Murphy wrote. "A key factor will be whether Aaron Rodgers comes back for the 2022 season. [Head coach] Matt [LaFleur], [general manager] Brian [Gutekunst], executive vice president/director of football operations Russ Ball and I are all in agreement that we want Aaron to come back. He is likely to win his fourth league MVP, is the unquestioned leader of our team and is still playing at a high level at 38.
"Although we will face many challenges this offseason, I have tremendous confidence in Matt, Brian and Russ."
Green Bay's free agency situation is one that warrants as much attention as Rodgers' ongoing saga. The Packers are currently $50 million over the projected salary cap for 2022 ($208.2 million), per Over The Cap, and have 24 free agents, including All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, to make decisions on. Naturally, Adams' landing spot figures to have a ripple effect in more ways than one.
As Murphy alluded to, Rodgers is showing no signs of slowing down following a season in which he emerged as the favorite to walk away with a fourth career AP NFL Most Valuable Player after earning the honor in 2021. His lack of interest in a rebuild adds another log to the already-blazing inferno raging underneath the front office as it looks to put together a championship contender in hopes of retaining the veteran for his age-39 season.
Rodgers' reassurance that this offseason won't be as drawn out as last year's, coupled with his improved relationship with the team, offers some hope that this go-around could end favorably once more for Green Bay. That outcome won't be known, of course, until the future Hall of Famer provides an answer.