If Aaron Rodgers ends up bolting the Green Bay Packers for a new team, one little-used Buffalo Bills wide receiver may have played a pivotal role in the split.
There have been growing reports that Rodgers is discontent with the team and a series of decisions from general manager Brian Gutekunst, culminating with the league MVP reportedly telling the Packers that he might not return in 2021. One of the decisions reportedly driving Rodgers away from the team goes back to a wide receiver at the bottom of the Bills depth chart.
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Bills Connection to Rodgers
The tensions between Rodgers and the Packers have reportedly been brewing for months, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said that the team’s decision to release wide receiver Jake Kumerow was one of the major motivating factors. He noted that the decision “drove Rodgers nuts” and was seen as the “death knell” in his relationship with the team.
As Zach Kruse of Yahoo Sports noted, the timing of Kumerow’s release was particularly biting for Rodgers. Ahead of the team’s final cuts before the season, Rodgers offered some public praise for Kumerow and described him as a lock to make the final roster.
“Jake Kumerow has been such a solid performer for us the last couple of years,” said Rodgers, via NYUpstate.com. “I love his reliability. I think he’s a fantastic, steady player who’s very heady on the field. He makes plays, he plays with a lot of confidence and he’s a guy you love having on the squad.”
From NFL Now: Summing up the #Packers situation with QB Aaron Rodgers, who also wanted more input in personnel decisions… and how the Jake Kumerow release (!!) played into it. pic.twitter.com/EOGG9aQg3R
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 3, 2021
The Packers cut Kumerow shortly after Rodgers offered this public praise. Kumerow then found his way to the Bills roster, where he made the most of his limited opportunities. He had just one target in 17 offensive snaps on the season, but caught the pass for a 22-yard touchdown in a win over the Denver Broncos. Kumerow played more extensively on special teams, however.
As Ryan Talbot of Stracuse.com noted, Kumerow then had something of an up-and-down tenure with the Bills. He was released when wide receiver John Brown came back from injury, with the team intending to send Kumerow back to the practice squad. He failed to clear waivers, however, and was claimed by the New Orleans Saints. When the Saints later cut Kumerow, the Bills pounced and signed him to a reserve/futures contract after their season ended.
Packers Hope to Repair Rift
The Packers front office has been publicly hopeful about the situation with Rodgers, saying they have no plans to ship him away.
“I had no [trade] discussions with any team,” Gutekunst said, via Pro Football Talk. “I received one call from a team Thursday night, after all the news came out. I said no. That was the end of the conversation.”
#Shoutout: The @buffalobills tied an NFL record last night when Josh Allen found Jake Kumerow on a 22 yard touchdown pass, making Kumerow the 13th Bill to catch a touchdown this season. pic.twitter.com/m5UeBMtBBg
— Buffalo Bills PR (@BuffaloBillsPR) December 20, 2020
With Rodgers under contract, there appear to be few options for him outside of refusing to play, a step it is not clear he is prepared to take. For his part, Gutenkunst said the team is open to working through whatever issues linger with Rodgers and getting him to come back and commit to the team.
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