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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers won his fourth NFL MVP on Thursday.
Will he be back in Green Bay to potentially win a fifth MVP and continue his pursuit of a second Super Bowl championship?
Speaking at NFL Honors after winning the league’s top individual honor for a second consecutive season, Rodgers said he has not made that decision but will do so in the “near future” because he knows the team has major decisions to make before the start of the league-year on March 16.
“I have not made any decision yet,” Rodgers said after winning MVP. “I’ve just been easing into the offseason and excited about being here tonight. Feels like a dream, surreal for sure. Obviously, not how we wanted to finish the season, but to be sitting here as a four-time MVP, it's crazy. I'm so thankful. Like I said in the last press conference, I'll make a decision in due time and not in a ton of time. There’s going to be a decision in the near future and I'm not going keep a lot of people waiting.”
With a much stronger relationship with general manager Brian Gutekunst and a grasp of the other key questions hovering over the franchise, Rodgers’ decision should be coming sooner than later. Last year, his return to Green Bay wasn’t sealed until just before the start of training camp. This year, he met with Gutekunst and other key members of the organization soon after the season ended to get a feel for the team’s plans at quarterback and how it will field a championship-contending team despite major salary cap problems.
“I was obviously frustrated about some things in the offseason,” Rodgers said. “We had a ton of conversations and I just felt like there was so much growth, and I’m so thankful for that. I’m thankful for the relationships – with Brian as much as anybody.”
Ultimately, Rodgers’ decision will come down to a couple factors.
One, does he want to return for an 18th season in the NFL? When he skipped last year’s offseason practices, Rodgers got a taste of retirement life and enjoyed it. Echoing what he said after the season, Rodgers said, “I don’t have a fear of retirement.”
Two, does he believe his best chance for winning a second Super Bowl comes in Green Bay? Or does he see a better opportunity in, say, Denver, which hired Nathaniel Hackett as coach?
Based on his comments during a 10 1/2-minute Zoom conference after winning MVP honors, it appears his choices are Green Bay or retirement.
With last year’s MVP, Rodgers joined four legends as three-time MVPs: running back Jim Brown (1957, 1958, 1965), quarterback Johnny Unitas (1959, 1964, 1967), quarterback Brett Favre (1995 through 1997) and quarterback Tom Brady (2007, 2010, 2017).
With his fourth MVP, Rodgers has broken from that pack and is alone in second place. Peyton Manning won a record five MVPs – four with Indianapolis (2003, 2004, 2008 and 2009) and one with Denver (2013).
For Manning and Brady, their first MVP and last MVP were separated by 10 years. Rodgers’ fourth MVP comes 10 years after his first.
Rodgers put his stamp on the MVP race with a sensational finishing stretch to the season. Despite laboring through a broken toe that curtailed his practice time, Rodgers ended the season with seven consecutive games of two-plus touchdown passes and zero interceptions. That’s the second-longest streak in NFL history. In 2010, Tom Brady did it in nine consecutive games. Rodgers threw 20 touchdown passes during his streak, which he’ll carry into next season. Brady threw 24 touchdown passes.
Being MVP doesn’t simply mean having the best stats. It’s that middle letter – the “V” for Valuable. The Packers were the second-most-impacted team by injuries this season, according to ManGamesLost.com. In terms of the value of the player and the amount of games missed, David Bakhtiari was the most important injury of the NFL season, Za’Darius Smith was second and Jaire Alexander was ninth. Rodgers’ play obviously was an important part of the team’s 13-win season.
In games started and finished by Rodgers, the Packers went 13-2. The Packers went 0-2 with Jordan Love starting against Kansas City and playing the second half at Detroit.
Incredibly, being the Most Valuable Player of the NFL season doesn’t mean being the Most Valuable Player of the NFL postseason. No MVP has won the award in the same year he won the Super Bowl since Kurt Warner with the St. Louis Rams in 1999.
Last season, Rodgers joined Steve Young as the only quarterbacks since 1940 to win the Percentage Triple Crown of completion percentage, touchdown percentage and interception percentage on the way to leading the league in passer rating. This season, Rodgers finished third in completion percentage but was first again in touchdown percentage, interception percentage and passer rating.
That feat has been accomplished only five times since 1960: Rodgers in 2020 and 2021, Tom Brady in 2010, Young in 1992 and Ken Anderson in 1981.
The debate between Rodgers and Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is fascinating. Brady put up some absurd numbers in leading the NFL with 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdowns. The Buccaneers also went 13-4.
Brady crushed Rodgers (and everyone else) by the numbers because he threw 47 passes more than any other quarterback and 188 more passes Rodgers. Give Rodgers the same number of attempts as Brady, and Rodgers would have thrown for 5,572 yards and 50 touchdowns and beaten Brady’s completions record with 494.
There have been 13 seasons in which a quarterback threw at least 400 passes and finished the season with an interception percentage of less than 1.0. Rodgers has five of those seasons, including 2021, when he led the NFL with an interception rate of 0.75 percent. Tom Brady (twice) is the only other quarterback with multiple seasons.
Rodgers has finished with an interception rate of less than 1.0 percent four consecutive seasons. No other quarterback has even done it in back-to-back seasons.
Perhaps Rodgers needs to switch insurance companies and pitch for the one that talks about being in good hands. Not only did he lead the NFL with only four interceptions, but he didn’t lose a fumble, either. That gave Rodgers a league-low four turnovers. Seattle’s Russell Wilson, who missed three games due to injury, was a distant second with seven.
Turnovers have to be a part of any conversation about the Packers’ quarterbacking future. In 561 passing plays (531 attempts, 30 sacks), Rodgers had just those four turnovers. In 65 passing plays, Jordan Love also had four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble).
With 37 touchdowns vs. four interceptions, Rodgers threw 9.25 touchdown passes for every interception, more than double Kirk Cousins’ runner-up 4.71 (33 touchdowns, seven interceptions). That’s the seventh-best mark in NFL history. In NFL history, there have been 12 seasons in which a quarterback had a touchdown-to-interception ratio of at least 6.50. Rodgers has half of those seasons, including four in a row.
If there’s one stat you take from this, here it is: There have been six seasons in NFL history of 6.50 touchdowns per interception and 4,000-plus passing yards. Rodgers has all six.
“There’s obviously a faction, based on the response when I tested positive, that want to demonize me for my decision to be unvaccinated. That’s the environment that we’re living in. There is not room for dissenting opinions or individual freedoms or people to have a different view. … I think the MVP should be about the most valuable player on the team. A lot of times it goes to the best player on the best team, and we’re the best team. So, if voters want to use the offseason or don’t like my stance being unvaccinated, that’s their prerogative. I don’t think it’s right, but that’s their prerogative.”