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INDIANAPOLIS — It shouldn’t be too long before Aaron Rodgers is back atop the NFL quarterback pay scale.

Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy told ESPN on Tuesday there has already been progress made toward a new contract for the two-time NFL MVP even though he’s signed through the 2019 season.

Murphy said new general manager Brian Gutekunst and executive vice president/director of football operations Russ Ball both have been involved in the process.

“We’ve had discussions with his representative,” Murphy said at the NFL scouting combine. “I have a lot of confidence in Brian and Russ and Aaron as well. We want to create a win-win.”

Rodgers still has two seasons left on the five-year, $110 million extension he signed in 2013, but that deal has become outdated. At the time, he was the NFL’s highest-paid player based on the $20 million average per year. He has slipped to No. 6 on the pay scale after the latest quarterback deal — the five-year, $137.5 million contract Jimmy Garoppolo signed with the 49ers.

Rodgers’ undervalued contract has been an issue for at least a year. Last summer, he said: “I know my value in this league, and I know the team appreciates me. I’m going to continue to make myself an indispensable part of this roster. When you do that, when your time comes up to get a contract, you usually get a contract extension.”

Rodgers, 34, has said he would like to play until he’s at least 40. He was off to one of his best starts last season with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions, and the Packers were off to a 4-1 start when Rodgers broke his collarbone. The Packers finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Earlier this offseason, Rodgers expressed frustration over losing quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, whose contract was not renewed. On ESPN Radio, he said the move was made “without consulting me.”

Rodgers is scheduled to make $20.9 million this season and $21.1 million in 2019. His salary-cap figures are similar. The Packers are expected to have at least $16 million in salary cap space when free agency opens next month.

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Chris Hogan reaches deal with New Orleans Saints, source says



METAIRIE, La. — After moonlighting as a lacrosse player this summer, veteran wide receiver Chris Hogan will return to the NFL and try to help the New Orleans Saints make up for the absence of injured star Michael Thomas.

Hogan, 33, agreed to a deal with the Saints on Monday, a source told ESPN’s Mike Reiss, confirming an NFL Network report.

As expected, Thomas was officially placed on the physically unable to play list Monday to start training camp. He is expected to miss time at the start of the regular season after having ankle surgery in June.

Hogan (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) will compete for a roster spot along with Saints receivers Tre’Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, Marquez Callaway and others in a position group that is thin on proven talent after New Orleans released veteran Emmanuel Sanders this offseason.

Hogan won two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots during a nine-year career that also saw him play with the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and New York Jets. But after playing in just 12 total games with the Panthers and Jets in 2019 and 2020 while battling injuries, he briefly decided to switch careers this offseason and play in the Premier Lacrosse League before the Saints lured him back.

Hogan was a standout lacrosse player at Penn State before he spent a year playing football at Monmouth and joined the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2012. He was mostly inactive during his time in the PLL, beginning with the Cannons before being traded to the Whipsnakes.

Back in the NFL, Hogan brings versatility along with his experience. He has lined up almost equally in the slot and out wide while catching 216 passes for 2,795 yards and 18 touchdowns in the regular season. He has another 34 catches for 542 yards and four TDs in the playoffs.

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‘Last Dance’ approach comes with obstacles for Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Green Bay Packers Blog



GREEN BAY, Wis. — Welcome to the NBA.

That was the reaction from one long-time NFL personnel executive to Monday’s news from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Green Bay Packers offered concessions aimed at persuading quarterback Aaron Rodgers to return to the team for at least one more season.

While this has “The Last Dance” written all over it, it’s far from a sure thing that it will end in similar fashion to Michael Jordan’s last season with the Chicago Bulls: with Rodgers bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay.

It is, however, a sign that an NFL player — at least one as accomplished as Rodgers — can now coordinate the course of his career with far more control than the league has ever seen.

“It’s crazy, and it says ‘I’m bigger than the team,’” the personnel exec said. “I guess it’s a one-year deal and then trade him.”

There’s been damage done — perhaps irreparably to both Rodgers and his team — by the saga of the 2021 offseason.

“I think it’s kind of a pox on both houses, us and Aaron,” Packers president Mark Murphy said Monday, shortly before Schefter’s report of a pending agreement.

Rodgers’ approach to this offseason tarnished his legacy, at least among some Packers fans. One yard sign in Green Bay this spring read, “Aaron, Go Pack.”

From a football standpoint, Rodgers’ decision to skip everything in the offseason also might have repercussions on the field.

Rodgers didn’t need any more 7-on-7 periods or any throws to unguarded receivers. But remember last offseason, when Rodgers had such a deep involvement with coach Matt LaFleur and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett on refining the system? There was none of that this year.

As the old adage goes, “You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse.” No one stays the same, and it’s a sure bet that opposing defensive coordinators developed counters for what made the Packers the most productive offense in the NFL last season.

Even if Rodgers’ demands were so outrageous that they included, say, wanting influence over who the new defensive coordinator was going to be this year, he clearly felt disrespected — whether justified or not. That was the gist of his comments during his interview for Kenny Mayne’s final SportsCenter show in May.

The Packers aren’t without fault, either. Somehow, someway, Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst should have never let it get this far with their three-time MVP. Whether it was giving him a heads-up before they traded up to draft quarterback Jordan Love in the first round last year or offering him at least the illusion of influence, the team needed to give him the appreciation and respect he felt he deserved.

Murphy wouldn’t say what Rodgers has told the organization that he wants.

“I’m not gonna get into specific details,” Murphy said on Monday.

With Rodgers, assuming he’s fully on board, there’s no reason to think the Packers aren’t a Super Bowl contender once again.

But if among the concessions that the Packers offered Rodgers was the chance for greater input on the roster — there was a report he wants the team to bring back receiver Randall Cobb in a trade — then imagine being a non-star player in the Packers’ locker room. Not only do you have to please the coaches and scouts, but Rodgers, too.

Catering to one player is a tough message for the other 52 players to hear. Sure, it’s a big-boy league, but why add another unnecessary stressor?

There are some upsides to a one-more-year approach, if that’s where things stand now. Even if the Packers don’t win it all in Rodgers’ last go-around, they will have bought another year of development for Love. All evidence suggests he needs it. And in the spring of 2022, if the Packers trade Rodgers — presumably to a losing a team — they’ll own high draft picks in return and also have a more seasoned Love, who would be entering his third year.



Adam Schefter reports on the concessions the Packers are willing to make to bring back Aaron Rodgers for one more season.

Whether or not it’s true, the Packers gave the appearance that they have bent over backward for Rodgers.

“We have been working tirelessly with Aaron and his representation to resolve the issues he has raised this offseason,” Gutekunst told Packers shareholders on Monday. “And we remain hopeful for a positive resolution.”

On the other side, Rodgers’ silence or cryptic messages only further muddied his position. One of Rodgers’ most recent posts — which was accompanied by an identical post from receiver Davante Adams — was a picture of Jordan and Scottie Pippen. No one knew at the time whether that meant Rodgers and Adams already had their “Last Dance” or would have it this season.

“I actually did enjoy ‘The Last Dance,’” Murphy said with a smile on Monday. “I learned a lot. There was a lot going on there. … I think [Rodgers and Adams were] just having fun. I hope Aaron can win as many rings as Michael. That would be a heck of an end to his career.”

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Saquon Barkley is ‘getting better every day,’ but Joe Judge, New York Giants content to be patient



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants are thinking “long term” with star running back Saquon Barkley entering training camp. They aren’t going to rush him on the field this summer or even for Week 1 as he recovers from a torn ACL last season.

Coach Joe Judge made this clear in a 1-on-1 conversation with ESPN.

“We’re thinking long term with Saquon; Long term in the season, long term in his career,” Judge said. “And by taking care of him individually that is going to help our team long-term as well. We’re going to make sure when we get him out there we can keep him out there.

“And we’ve got to make sure we do the best thing for him as we go along the way and make sure we make decisions based on his body and not some artificially anticipated timeline. When he’s ready to go, that is when he’s going to be out there.”

Barkley isn’t going to be out there for the start of training camp. The Giants’ first full-team practice is scheduled for Wednesday. He’s already been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

More likely, if things go well, Barkley can get off PUP and on the field some time late next month. This would give him several weeks to get ready for the season opener on Sept. 12 at MetLife Stadium against the Denver Broncos. There remains a chance he’s ready for Week 1.

Barkley injured his right knee in Week 2 of last season against the Chicago Bears. He had surgery in late October.

By all accounts, he continues to make significant progress.

“The biggest thing with Saquon is he’s made a lot of gains,” Judge said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to. I know that he’s chomping at the bit to get out there and you watch him out there rehab on the field, this guy is getting better every day.”

Barkley played it coy at his ProCamps football camp last week when asked if he’ll be out there for the start of training camp and/or Week 1.

“I don’t know. We’ll see,” he said with a smile, continuing with the approach of not putting a timeline on his return to the field. “Taking it day by day. Just listening to my body. Whenever I’m able to get out there just make sure I’m 110%. Not just for … my well-being, but just so I go out there and compete at a high level and show the world who Saquon is.”

The Giants have been intent on playing it safe with Barkley’s rehab and return since the start. The reasons are multi-layered.

New York has a lot invested in this young player, who they want to be part of the organization long term. Barkley is still just 24 years old and the Giants believe he remains a unique talent.

There is understandable caution about putting him on the field potentially prematurely to avoid a setback. They feel this is doing right by Barkley as well. The result is they are not going to put him on the field until he is 100%.

Barkley seems OK with this approach, even though he wants to get back on the field.

“Kind of have to play that by ear,” he said of his own expectations. “When it comes to rehab, rehab is never a straight line. Just play that by ear. Listen to your body and whatever your body is telling you, go with that.”

Whether that is to get into practice this summer or after the season begins.

“I’m not going to take a short scope of this,” Judge said. “This is going to be a long-term mission.”

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