Just when you thought we were about to have a drama-free Aaron Rodgers offseason . . . now this:
After recent indications suggested that Rodgers was leaning toward remaining with the Packers after his fourth MVP season, the All-Pro quarterback reportedly is conflicted about what to do. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Friday night that Rodgers is "truly torn" on where he wants to play next season and is "going back and forth" with his decision.
A year after Rodgers floated the idea of retirement amid his frustration about the team not paying enough attention to his opinions about personnel decisions, the Packers again are in a holding pattern with their most important player.
Rodgers won his second straight MVP award with a wondrous regular season before suffering a divisional-round loss to the 49ers at Lambeau Field. He indicated a willingness to continue with the Packers in 2022, although he was aware that some major changes could be afoot as the team confronts some serious salary cap issues.
He said after the season that he hoped to make a decision about next season quickly, but the wait continues.
The most likely potential suitors for Rodgers: the Broncos, who are in the market for quarterback upgrades, and the Steelers now that Ben Roethlisberger has retired. Profootballtalk.com’s Mike Florio said the Titans are another consideration.
Just like last year, the operative word in Green Bay regarding the Rodgers situation is patience.
"You always want to be respectful," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said at the NFL Combine. "I know it’s a lot to take on, he’s got a lot to think about, and certainly I’m making sure that I’m consistently communicating with him, but also want to be respectful of his time and the process that he has to go through."
And so the wait continues . . . again.
McVay's personal stake over Ukraine
Sean McVay experienced the thrill of winning the Super Bowl for the first time last month as the Rams conquered the Bengals at SoFi Stadium. But the 36-year-old coach’s heart has been elsewhere in recent days.
McVay’s fiancée, Veronika Khomyn, is from Ukraine and still has family in the country, which is under attack by Russia.
"My thoughts and prayers are with Ukraine," McVay told reporters during a videoconference. "This obviously hits home with me. Just watching the grace at which [Veronika] has handled this, how strong her family has been in the midst of this, I’m just so proud to be associated with that culture."
McVay lauded Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelendskyy’s leadership during the war, calling it "incredible. This is real type of stuff here, and it gives you really a perspective. My thoughts and prayers are with so many people that are unfortunately affected by this terrible time."
McVay acknowledged that he recently was approached about a network television job as an NFL analyst, and while he said he is open to the idea, it won’t happen for some time.
"That is something that down the line, I think that I would be interested in, some of the media things," he said. "But my heart is in coaching, with these players, with these coaches, with this ownership group. I’m really excited about continuing to move forward with this group."
McVay will try to do what no coach has done since Bill Belichick with the 2003-04 Patriots: win back-to-back Super Bowls.
Changes to OT format appear unlikely
The NFL’s competition committee held extensive discussions last week about the league’s overtime format and whether each team should be allowed to have at least one possession in OT. Under current rules, a team that scores a touchdown on the first possession of the extra session is declared the winner. There was significant outcry after Kansas City beat the Bills in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs by scoring a touchdown on its first possession without Buffalo’s offense getting a chance to match the score.
A week later, Kansas City was beaten by the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game after Cincinnati picked off Patrick Mahomes and went on to kick a field goal. Even with that win, teams that have won the coin toss for overtime are 10-2 in the playoffs.
That said, there wasn’t a strong sentiment among committee members to change the rule. Owners ultimately will decide whether to change the format when they meet later this month in Florida, but absent a strong recommendation from the committee, it appears unlikely that such a significant adjustment would be made.
Wentz a one-and-done in Indy
The Colts had hoped that their 2021 trade for Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz would solidify the position for years to come. Instead, it is a virtual certainty that Wentz will be gone after just one season.
While the Colts haven’t announced a decision, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read between the lines of what general manager Chris Ballard had to say at the NFL Combine earlier in the week.
"I know I’m going to get a lot of questions about Carson right now," he said. "I don’t have a direct answer for you."
Asked if the number of quarterbacks who might be available through free agency, trades or the draft might impact their decision, Ballard said that wouldn’t be the case.
"I mean, ultimately, you’ve got to have a guy you believe in and you can win with," he said. "We will make the decision that we think is best, both in the short and the long term. As we sit down and work through whether Carson’s the long-term best answer or not . . . we’re not there yet. I’m not there yet. Whatever decision we make will be the best one for us."
Translation: The Colts will move on.
Carroll and Wilson on same page . . . for now
Talk of a trade of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been quiet of late, especially after Wilson said he wants to remain in Seattle. But with veteran quarterbacks at a premium, and after Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford switched teams and went on to win Super Bowls, you never say never.
"I’m not surprised [at the chatter about Wilson’s status]," coach Pete Carroll said. "Last year, it was out there twice as much. Look at it. It’s the quarterback world right now. They’re talking about all of them. There’s a lot of people taking shots, a lot of lines [of speculation] in the water right now, trying to guess and see what’s going to happen."
The likelihood remains strong that the Wilson-Carroll alliance will continue, and if it does, it’s because of the bond they’ve built since Wilson was drafted by the Seahawks in 2012.
"Russell and I have had a partnership for all of these years," Carroll said. "We’ve worked at this the whole time. We always tell you he says the same thing I do, because it’s the truth. It’s how we’ve worked at stuff. We’ve communicated on a really high level.
"Ever since really the first game we had when I told him he was going to be the starter, at that point, I told him that he and I are going to be in front of this program over the years . . . There is a lot [of trade speculation] and all of that. That’s just this time of year, but I feel like we’re on a good page, that we know what’s going on, and we’re communicating really well still."
All is OK with Corral
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral suffered a significant ankle sprain in the Sugar Bowl, but he’s almost back to full strength. Despite not throwing at the NFL Combine this past week, he said he’ll be ready for his school’s pro day on March 24.
"This has been my dream since I started playing football," he said. "Now I’m not able to perform physically. It does absolutely kill me. I’m itching to get back out there."
He’ll be out there soon enough. Corral started running with no pain and is "100% throwing." He said he thought it "would be smart to sit out [Combine drills]. If I wanted to put my best foot forward, just wait until my pro day."
Any regrets about playing in the bowl game and risking injury?
"Absolutely not," he said. "I wouldn’t be in that position without those guys. I never thought about opting out. It was never a thought in my mind."
Third time the charm for McDaniels?
Josh McDaniels is considered one of the brightest offensive minds in today’s NFL, but his track record as a head coach leaves much to be desired.
He was fired by the Broncos just 12 games into his second season in 2010, with his abrasive personality and stubbornness in personnel decisions being cited in the early dismissal. He was hired as the Colts’ head coach in 2018 but got cold feet and went back to the Patriots as offensive coordinator.
He hopes the third time finally will work out.
"I would say knowing more about what to expect," he said about his transition to head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. "I don’t think there have been many days where I’ve been shocked or surprised at this point, or learning brand-new things to me at this point is a little different than what I was 13 years ago [in Denver].
"I know what my plan is when I wake up in the morning. Really trust the people that are in positions to do their job really well and try to be the best support system I can be to them, while I’m trying to do the best I can at my job. So, rather different. I would say rather significantly."