The Washington Post

Green Bay is in limbo amid Rodgers’s uncertaint­y


The Green Bay Packers will continue to play the waiting game with Aaron Rodgers.

They’re also ready with a backup plan.

Though General Manager Brian Gutekunst’s first choice still appears to be bringing back the four-time NFL MVP and longtime face of the team, Gutekunst acknowledg­ed the Packers are willing to go with Jordan Love — if needed.

“I think he’s ready to play. I think he’s ready to be an NFL starting quarterbac­k,” Gutekunst said Tuesday, referring to Love. “He’s worked really hard. He’s shown a lot of progressio­n. I know he’s really eager to have that, and I think that’s the next step in his progressio­n, is to play.”

First, though, Rodgers must make his call.

The one-time Super Bowl champ is scheduled to cost the Packers $59.5 million, a prohibitiv­ely high number that would prevent the team from doing much in free agency.

Rodgers has acknowledg­ed publicly that if he does return, he would probably redo his contract. He also has completed the “darkness retreat” he said would help him sort out his options.

Green Bay also must decide whether to exercise its fifth-year option on Love, its first-round pick from 2020 who has not played much as Rodgers’s backup. Extending Love’s contract through next season would cost the team $20.3 million in 2024.

• BILLS: Buffalo’s coaching staff has a big hole to fill at defensive coordinato­r after Leslie Frazier informed the team he is taking a year off from coaching but plans to return for the 2024 season.

Speaking at the NFL combine in Indianapol­is, Coach Sean Mcdermott cited what was a “long and hard season” in saying Frazier informed him of the decision last week. Mcdermott did not go into further detail on the reasons behind his longtime trusted adviser’s decision to step away from football.

• BUCCANEERS: Tampa Bay is $56 million over the salary cap and plans to release running back Leonard Fournette before the start of the new league year March 15.

Fournette told the Tampa Bay Times he requested to be let go by the Buccaneers after the 2022 season.

“I asked after the season to be [released], and they respected my wishes,” Fournette said. “So no bad blood.”

Fournette said quarterbac­k Tom Brady’s retirement played heavily into his decision to ask for his release because he’s only interested in playing for a winner.

• EAGLES: NFC champion Philadelph­ia promoted quarterbac­ks coach Brian Johnson to offensive coordinato­r, replacing Shane Steichen after he left to become head coach of the Indianapol­is Colts.

The Eagles also named Sean Desai as defensive coordinato­r, hiring him away from his role as associate head coach with the Seattle Seahawks. Desai succeeds Jonathan Gannon, who left after the Super Bowl to become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

• FALCONS: Atlanta released quarterbac­k Marcus Mariota, a move that was expected after the veteran was benched late in the season.

The Falcons were 5-8 with Mariota as the starter before rookie Desmond Ridder started the final four games, winning two.

• GIANTS: The team told wide receiver Kenny Golladay that he will be released after two struggling seasons.

• BROWNS: General Manager Andrew Berry said the team will release veteran safety John Johnson III, who signed a three-year $33.8 million contract as a free agent two years ago.

Johnson hasn’t lived up to his big deal, and Cleveland needs to clear out space under the salary cap to upgrade a defense that had numerous issues last season.

• MISC.: Irv Cross, the former NFL defensive back who became the first Black man to work fulltime as a sports analyst on national television, is the latest football player diagnosed with the brain disease CTE. Cross, who was 81 when he died Feb. 28, 2021, suffered from Stage 4 chronic traumatic encephalop­athy, Boston University researcher­s said.

Stage 4 is the most advanced stage of CTE, showing the kind of damage that often causes cognitive and behavioral issues in those exposed to repetitive head trauma. He struggled physically with his balance and was paranoid, his wife said. . . .

The New York Jets will play in the Hall of Fame Game against the Browns in the preseason opener Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio.

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