LaFleur wants Rodgers back ‘in the worst way’

  • Covered Packers for Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1997-2013
  • Two-time Wisconsin Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Nothing has changed in Aaron Rodgers’ standoff with the Packers, and nothing has changed in the way the team feels about its quarterback either.

In fact, Matt LaFleur doubled down on his desire to continue coaching the reigning NFL MVP.

“I’ve got nothing new to update, and we still obviously feel the same way,” the Packers coach said Friday during the team’s rookie minicamp. “We want him back in the worst way. I know he knows that, and we’ll continue to work at it each and every day.”

Friday was the first time LaFleur took questions since the NFL draft concluded earlier this month. He was asked specifically whether any progress had been achieved toward a resolution — moving on from Rodgers or retaining him — in that span.

The Packers have maintained they have no plans to trade Rodgers.

In the meantime, LaFleur and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett have been busy with their other quarterbacks. They had two in for rookie camp on a tryout basis — journeymen Kurt Benkert and Chad Kelly — and signed veteran Blake Bortles earlier this week. Before signing Bortles, the Packers had only two quarterbacks on their roster: Rodgers and Jordan Love.

LaFleur didn’t say whether signing Bortles had anything to do with the uncertainty around Rodgers, who as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported last month has told the Packers he does not want to return to the team. LaFleur liked Bortles’ history with Hackett, who held the same position with the Jacksonville Jaguars during part of the quarterback’s tenure.

“Shoot, he led his team to the AFC Championship Game [in 2017], and I mean they were close to knocking off the Patriots in New England,” LaFleur said of Bortles. “He’s got a lot of experience, and that’s something that you can never take for granted.”

Love is not allowed to participate in this weekend’s rookie camp even though he did not play at all last season. However, he can join in the rookie development program, which begins Monday. He is allowed to participate because of a rule that says a second-year quarterback who played less than 25% of his team’s offensive snaps as a rookie may join this year’s rookies for the session.

Asked whether he planned to prepare Love as the starter just in case they can’t convince Rodgers to return, LaFleur said: “I’m not going to make any assumptions about anything at this point. We’re just going to take it day by day, but every player on our roster has got to have the mentality that they’re going to be the guy. If not, when you do get your opportunity, you will not be prepared for it. So that is always what we stress to every player on this football team.”

Rodgers has not been taking part in the Packers’ offseason program, which has been virtual, and he is not expected to show up when organized team activities start May 24.

LaFleur said he asked his position coaches to poll the veteran players asking who might come to the voluntary workouts, but he did not share the results of the query.

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