- The Washington Times - Monday, January 25, 2021

After the Green Bay Packers lost their second straight — and fourth overall — NFC Championship game with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, Rodgers’ thoughts began to shift toward what comes next.

Only, he doesn’t know what comes next — adding a layer of uncertainty to Green Bay’s offseason. Last week, the 37-year-old called his future a “beautiful mystery.” What that meant, only Rodgers will have known.

His comments after Sunday’s 31-26 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers forces those on the outside to read the tea leaves, dissecting if his uncertainty for the future was just post-game melancholy or a sign of goodbye.

“A lot of guys’ futures that are uncertain, myself included,” Rodgers said (via NFL.com). “That’s what’s sad about it most. Getting this far. Obviously, there’s going to be an end to it at some point, whether we make it past this one or not. Just the uncertainties is tough and the finality of it.”

Rodgers is still under contract for three more seasons, although the Packers selected quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft as the heir-apparent for Rodgers. The pick seemed to irk Rodgers, but it also stoked the best out of him.

Rodgers finished the regular season with MVP-caliber numbers: 4,299 yards, 48 touchdowns and five interceptions. He completed 70.7% of his passes. In Sunday’s loss, he threw for 346 yards, three touchdowns and an interception — the latter of which proved especially costly, allowing Tom Brady to throw a late score before halftime.

When asked where he goes from here, Rodgers admitted he didn’t know.

“I don’t know. I really don’t,” Rodgers said (via PackersNews.com). “There’s a lot of unknowns going into this offseason now, and … I’m going to have to take some time away for sure and clear my head and just kind of see what’s going on with everything.

“But it’s pretty tough right now, especially thinking about the guys that may or may not be here next year. There’s always change; that’s the only constant in this business. It’s really tough to get to this point; really, really tough. Especially with there only being in one bye week … the playoffs. It’s a grind just to get to this point.

“And that makes the finality of it all kind of hit you like a ton of bricks. That’s why it’s a gutting feeling in your stomach.”

Green Bay had opportunities to climb back into the contest, but spotting Brady 14 points didn’t help. The 39-yard touchdown pass to Scotty Miller with a second left before halftime — the product of dubious coverage from Kevin King — was the first misstep. And then the first drive out of halftime, running back Aaron Jones fumbled and Brady threw another score.

Plus, coach Matt LaFleur left some scratching their heads with a two-point conversion decision in the third quarter that failed before settling for a field goal with just over two minutes left in the game. The Packers, down five, never got the ball back.

When asked if LaFleur thought he’d get another chance to work with Rodgers in the future, he gave an emphatic yes.

“I sure as hell hope so,” LaFleur said. “I mean, the guy is the MVP of this league. He is the heart and soul of our football team. So, hell yeah, he better be back here. He’s our leader. Just so appreciative of him buying into what we’re trying to get done around here. And, and leading that group. You know, his voice carries a lot of weight in that locker room. I feel for him to be in this situation. And for us not to get it done. I mean, it hurts.”

Perhaps Rodgers sentiments don’t require much insight. His team had just lost another NFC Championship game, after all. Still, his uncertainty leaves a question mark in Green Bay.

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