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Firing ultimatum, ‘all-in’ doubts: Aaron Rodgers’ Packers breakup was uglier than thought

Aaron Rodgers’ long, dramatic breakup with the Packers was even uglier than it seemed.

Less than a year after Green Bay selected Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft to be Rodgers’ successor at quarterback, Rodgers’ agent, David Dunn, phoned Packers president Mark Murphy and demanded that he either trade his client or fire general manager Brian Gutekunst, according to The Athletic.

Rodgers declined to address the demand in an interview with The Athletic, which said Dunn didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The demand reportedly came early before the 2021 NFL Draft, when reports emerged that Rodgers wanted out of Green Bay, which finally happened last month when he was shipped to the Jets.

But 2021 saw tensions rise between the team’s longtime quarterback and its decision-makers, with Rodgers publicly calling for team brass to improve the organization’s culture and communicate better.

Rodgers told The Athletic that Russ Ball, Packers vice president and director of football operations, was the only person in the front office that worked on improving in those areas.

Aaron Rodgers after his final game with the Packers on Jan. 8, 2023.

After winning his second consecutive MVP award in 2021, Rodgers was given a three-year, $150 million contract extension, even with Love waiting in the wings.

Rodgers then skipped the Packers’ voluntary OTAs.

The Athletic reports that team brass wasn’t “satisfied with Rodgers’ commitment and effort” after the contract they gave him.

“When I’m in, I’m all-in, and you wanna ride with offseason workouts?” Rodgers told the outlet. “I won MVP without doing offseason workouts. Like, was my commitment any less then? I’d say not at all. The way that I come back to work, not just physically in good shape but mentally refreshed, is the best thing for me to have the season I wanted to have during those in Green Bay.

“I think that’s just a cop-out written to try and find something to disparage me about that, honestly, when you know what offseason workouts are really about, it’s completely ridiculous.”

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst at the NFL combine on Feb. 28, 2023.

Rodgers and Gutekunst had agreed to meet in Southern California four months ago when Gutekunst was traveling for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, but that never ended up happening, and Rodgers told The Athletic there was never a set date or time in place for a meeting.

Rodgers said Gutekunst texted him one morning and that he responded either that night or the morning after, and by then, the general manager was already out of town.

As he did when he was introduced by the Jets last month, Rodgers cited the limited cellular service at his SoCal home when responding to the claims made by Gutekunst that he tried to reach Rodgers “many times” during the offseason to no avail.

Rodgers said he reached out to Gutekunst before his darkness retreat, saying the two of them and head coach Matt LaFleur should get together.

Aaron Rodgers holding his No. 8 Jets jersey with owner Woody Johnson on April 26, 2023.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

“I have zero or one bar at the house, so you call me — sometimes it goes through, most of the time it drops and doesn’t go through,” Rodgers told The Athletic. “Everybody who knows me, when I’m out west, they know that’s how to get a hold of me. So you can say whatever you want about that, but that’s the f–king truth.”

Rodgers then admitted to the outlet that Gutekunst texted him more than the other way around, ironic given Rodgers’ 2021 request for better communication from the organization.

“Did Brian text me more than I texted him? Yeah, but did I ghost him? No,” Rodgers said. “I texted him back. There was back-and-forths that we had and so this is the story you wanna go with? You’re gonna stand on this hill of austerity and say that arguably in the conversation of the best player in your franchise history, you’re gonna say I couldn’t get a hold of him and that’s why we had to move on?

“Like, c’mon man. Just tell the truth, you wanted to move on. You didn’t like the fact that we didn’t communicate all the time. Like, listen, I talk to the people that I like.”

Aaron Rodgers (8) at Jets OTAs on May 23, 2023.
Bill Kostroun for the NY Post

Dunn called Jets GM Joe Douglas on the night of March 12 to inform him that Rodgers wanted to continue his career and play for the Jets, leading to six weeks of on-and-off trade negotiations.

On March 15, Rodgers announced to the world on “The Pat McAfee Show” his intention was to play for the Jets.

Rodgers, 39, has been in attendance at Jets OTAs.