DENVER — Of medium build, long brown hair and introspective eyes, Aaron Rodgers is not a quarterback in the central casting sense.
He has played the position better than anyone else the past two seasons — back-to-back MVP trophies offer proof — and wades into all topics and adventures like vaccines and hosting "Jeopardy." It has left his football future a beautiful mystery.
Everything remains on the table for Rodgers: retire, remain in Green Bay or demand a trade. He heightened speculation that clarity could soon emerge with a cryptic Instagram post Monday night.
"Here’s some... #MondayNightGratitude for some of the incredibly special people in my life, with some pictures from the last beautiful year. @shailenewoodley, thanks for letting me chase after you the first couple months after we met, and finally letting me catch up to you and be a part of your life. Thanks for always having my back, for the incredible kindness you show me and everyone you meet, and for showing me what unconditional love looks like, I love you and am grateful for you.
"To the men I got to share the QB room with everyday, Matt, Nathaniel, Luke, @jordan3love and @kurtbenkert , you guys made every day so much fun and I’m so thankful for the daily laughs and stress relief you brought me every week of the year. I love you guys.
"To the Friday Crew, @aiydacobb , @rcobb18 , @frankieshebby , and @davidbakhtiari , I loved every moment we got to spend together this year. Your love and support was overwhelming, and I cherish the friendships I have with each of you.
'To my teammates, past and current, you are the icing on the beautiful cake we call our job; football. the friendships that we have will transcend our collective time in this game and I am so thankful for the role that each of you have played in making my life that much better. I love you guys, and cherish the memories we’ve made.
"To everyone else,
Spread love and gratitude you beautiful people, and read a book once in a while too while you’re at it. Love and peace ❤️❤️"
Trying to decipher Rodgers is a fool's errand. He is his own man, and zigs and zags on his whims. Appearing on his friend Pat McAfee's national radio show, Rodgers declined to address his future, though he praised Packers coach Matt LaFleur and admitted his relationship is in better place. He also appeared to be back together with finacee Shailene Woodley.
"There is nothing cryptic about gratitude," Rodgers said of his social media post after emerging from a 12-day Panchakarma cleanse his body, if not clear his mind. "You've got to kind of turn everything else off, so you're not working out, you're not straining or anything. It's kind of a re-centering. It not only heals you physically, but I think it takes away mental stress and then the spiritual part I think is it allows you to kind of enjoy the meditations a little more, so when I come out, my first thought is intense gratitude for the people in my life."
Last offseason, Rodgers exhibited passive aggressive behavior during an acrimonious offseason with the Packers. Much of his ire was directed at Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, feeling like he was not involved in the decision-making process, including the surprise drafting of Jordan Love. The ice thawed, however, and Rodgers returned with an improved relationship with the front office. But it came with concessions. The Packers voided the 2023 year of his contract and in reworking his deal, it left him with a $46.1 million salary cap hit in 2022.
As such, Rodgers controls his future to some degree. If he isn't willing to restructure his contract, the Packers might have to move on given their cap issues. The timing of Rodgers' gratitude post aligns with the NFL calendar. The window is open from Tuesday until March 8 with Green Bay expected to tag receiver Davante Adams.
Could how the Packers' approach Adams impact Rodgers? The educated interpretation of Rodgers is that he will make a decision no later than March 14 when legal tampering of free agency begins.
It likely needs to be soon if he's staying in Green Bay, allowing the franchise to offer him an extension and tackle their salary cap mathematics to keep their roster together.
The Broncos would be among several teams interested if Rodgers becomes available in a trade. Denver was interested last offseason, but nothing materialized because Green Bay refused to pick up the phone. Would that be that different this time around? The price will be enormous: likely two first round picks, a pair of second round picks and a player.
The Broncos have been connected to Rodgers because of their need — they have used 11 starters since Peyton Manning retired, with only Trevor Siemian (13-11) and Brett Rypien (1-0) posting a winning record — cap space of roughly $50 million and draft capital (a first, two seconds and a third-rounder this spring). Rodgers also has a close relationship with new Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett, his offensive coordinator for the previous three seasons.
So, if he were to exit Green Bay, Denver would represent a potential soft landing because of his familiarity with the scheme and staff.
Denver joins the Jets as the only team to miss the playoffs the past six seasons, a stretch defined by underwhelming quarterback play. The Broncos' five straight losing campaigns is their longest skid since 1963-72, which predates joining the NFL.
The Broncos have received a bolt from Hackett this offseason. He emphasizes communication, energy and innovation, and it will be demonstrated by his staff. Coordinators Justin Outten (offense), Ejiro Evero (defense) and Dwayne Stukes (special teams) will meet the media Tuesday.