GREEN BAY, Wis. – The NFL offseason has barely begun, but Aaron Rodgers threw his first Hail Mary of 2020 on Friday.
In a radio interview with “Wilde & Tausch” on ESPN Wisconsin, the Green Bay Packers quarterback who serves as the team’s NFLPA representative lamented all the reasons he believes the players association should not agree to the league’s collective-bargaining proposal. The voting window for players to ratify the new CBA is now open.
Rodgers was in Indianapolis to participate in negotiations at the scouting combine last week, but suggested his involvement was superficial.
“My involvement was more under the show-pony guy,” Rodgers said. “Bring in the guy with a name who’s going to be in the room. I don’t think they realized maybe my ability to speak in those environments, and what I really was passionate about.”
Rodgers, calling the new CBA “a legacy deal,” said he’s passionate the players receive their proper value in the next agreement. He admitted frustration over the addition of a 17th regular-season game without what he believes is fair compensation, saying players are not receiving enough reward for putting their bodies at further risk. He also took to task players — including those in his locker room — whom he believes have not taken the time to fully understand the proposal they’re accepting.
The proposal stands a good chance of being ratified because it is attuned to a larger percentage of players, particularly in raising the league’s minimum wage. Rodgers believes the proposal, which does not include a 50-50 revenue split, focuses too much on lessening training camp practices and marijuana testing instead of more substantive concessions.
Rodgers was among 14 player representatives who voted to not allow the league’s proposal to be presented to the NFLPA’s full membership, a battle he lost.
“I think we should have stood firmer on revenue and player safety,” Rodgers said, “instead of trying to get some of these concessions.”
The inclusion of a 17th game was particularly mystifying, Rodgers said. When the NFLPA’s executive committee did its rounds with players during last season, Rodgers said, there was no reference to the 17th game. That part of the proposal wasn’t on the table until negotiations were well underway, he said.
By then, it was what Rodgers termed a “nonnegotiable.”
“Every meeting that was had before these negotiations really got amped up,” Rodgers said, “nobody wanted 17 games. So a lot of us are wondering how the hell that even got into the conversation. Because nobody wanted it.”
Rodgers suggested a fairer deal might be 16 regular-season games with an additional bye week, providing players more rest for their bodies during the season while stretching out the calendar.
If players ratify the 10-year proposal, the NFL will enter a new decade of peace with its players association. Rodgers, acknowledging this is the deal under which almost every NFL player will finish their careers, took issue with the length.
“I don’t understand 10 years,” Rodgers said. “… I think a 10-year deal, although it locks us in — the positive spin they’ve been saying is it locks us in for media contracts that are coming up to be renegotiated — but, again, I don’t feel like this is a negotiation that the players are going to look back at when I’m done playing, and go, ‘Man, I’m so glad that this is what we decided on.”
Rodgers said he doesn’t know how teammates inside the Packers locker room will vote. He attempted to address his concerns with fellow Packers players, sending them a 2,000-word email that outlined the issues, but said he did not get much response. He believes too many players are failing to take the time to fully understand what they’re getting.
“There’s not a lot of critical thinking going on,” Rodgers said. “There was a ton of information out there, I sent out a large email, and you email 73 guys, and how many responses you’re getting back on this 2,000-word email that goes out, you’d be really disappointed with the actual answer. That’s the problem. I think we just haven’t had a chance to look at this critically, and it’s kind of a push through, push through, push through, and they’re just bullet-point highlights in quotations. Which is, like, no, that’s not the whole deal.
“Understand what you’re signing, and what this means for the future of this game. I’d like to hit the pause button, but I’m not sure if that’s even going to be a possibility here. We’ll find out in a few days if this goes through or not.”
No problem with drafting QB
It wasn’t all league business Friday in his conversation with ESPN Wisconsin. Rodgers was asked how he’d feel if the Packers selected a quarterback high in the draft, something general manager Brian Gutekunst said he’s open to if the right prospect is available.
“I’m a realist,” Rodgers said. “I know where we’re at as an organization and where I’m at in my career. I still feel like I have a ton of years left playing at the highest level. I’m confident enough. I’ve always felt like it doesn’t matter who you bring in, they’re not going to be able to beat me out anytime soon. So I feel really confident about my abilities and my place. We’ve drafted guys over the years. My first year starting, we drafted two quarterbacks in 2008. We’ve drafted various guys over the years. But I understand the business and the nature of it. Obviously, you’d love to bring guys in that are going to be able to play and compete right away, but I understand it’s a business, and I wouldn’t have a problem.”