GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers talked about how important it was to stay in touch with Jordan Love during his offseason absence from the Green Bay Packers, said he and coach Matt LaFleur have picked up where they left off last year and revealed that receiver Randall Cobb moved in with him after last week’s trade.
Yet when it came to general manager Brian Gutekunst — a man he’s known longer than any of the aforementioned — he called their relationship a “work in progress, for sure.”
Gutekunst and the Packers’ front office took the brunt when Rodgers finally aired his grievances upon his return to the team last week. A week into training camp, Rodgers and Gutekunst have been seen at least once talking during practice for several minutes.
“Relationships aren’t formed in a matter of a couple days,” Rodgers said Wednesday of Gutekunst, who has been the GM since 2018 and on the Packers scouting staff since 1998. “There’s time where the respect grows and the communication follows. I think the greatest relationships that you have with your friends and loved ones involved conversation and flow. You can not talk to a close friend for a few months and pick up right where you left off. There’s no break in communication, there’s no forced conversations or you’ve got to hit this person up because it’s on your to-do list that day.
“It’s all about wanting to have those conversations and wanting to be in conversation like that, and we’ve had a couple conversations and they’ve been positive conversations.”
While Rodgers skipped the entire offseason program, Love served as QB1. It was a role Rodgers played during offseasons when he was Brett Favre’s backup and the Packers would allow Favre to skip offseason work.
But in those cases, Rodgers knew Favre would come back to play — at least until Favre retired (and then unretired) in 2008. Rodgers said those experiences with and without Favre “shaped the direction of my career” and called the three seasons he served as a backup “an important time of growth for me.”
In this case, no one really knew what Rodgers would do.
Rodgers said he tried to put himself in Love’s shoes.
“And then I just reached out; I reached out a number of times [to] check on him [and] see how he’s doing,” Rodgers said. “I didn’t hold things from him. I let him know where I was at mentally and what I was thinking about. And hopefully he appreciated that.
“I just felt that’s what I would want in that situation, just to hear from the guy. And also, there’s a love and an appreciation and a friendship there, just like it was with me and Brett. So I wanted to make sure I checked in with him and let him know I was thinking about him.”
From the beginning, Rodgers said his beef with the Packers was nothing personal against Love. All indications showed he has taken his mentorship seriously.
“I have a lot of respect and love for Jordan, and I understand it’s got to be tough what he went through,” Rodgers said. “I went through it for two years in the offseason, going in ’06 and ’07, I was the guy the entire offseason, going through quarterback school, going through most of the OTAs, taking all the reps, and then here comes Favrey coming back — and obviously I’m back on the bench. Thankfully I went through that, and I can understand a little bit about what he’s going through, so I just try to keep that in mind the entire time.”
LaFleur said last week that he, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and passing game coordinator Luke Getsy would have to get Rodgers caught up on what changes they made to the offense, and Rodgers believes it’s gone smoothly.
“There’s always things I want to veto, but I’ve learned to pick my battles,” Rodgers said. “The great thing about Matt and I’s relationship and having Hack and Getsy in there is the lines of communication are fantastic. We’re always talking through things, and I think we’re just understanding each other’s personalities a little bit.”
It appears to have picked up right where it left off with Rodgers’ MVP play from last year. He was sharp from the beginning of camp despite not having receivers to throw to while working out at home in Southern California — he said he actually threw to some NBA players, including Davion Mitchell and Al Harrington, who work out at his gym — to no one’s surprise.
“Nah, nah. I mean, it’s Aaron Rodgers,” Packers receiver Allen Lazard said. “He’s not a quarterback; he’s a professional thrower of the ball.”
He’s also a professional host, at least until Cobb’s family moves back to Green Bay following last week’s trade — one that Rodgers orchestrated — from the Houston Texans.
“It’s been fun spending time with him before he moves out of my house and the wife and kids come up,” Rodgers said. “We’ve had a good time talking ball and catching up on life the last week or so.”