Prior to the first night of the 2021 NFL Draft, it appeared as if Matt LaFleur had one of the best, if not THE best, head coaching situations in the NFL. His quarterback was the MVP of the league and remains under contract for three more years. The front office went out and brought back just about every key free agent they stood to lose, including a Pro Bowl running back. How drastically things stand now! Coach LaFleur has gone from having an enviable position to one of the most stressful and awkward positions in the NFL. If the reports are true, he is now stuck in the middle between Aaron Rodgers and Brian Gutekunst, his start quarterback and his boss. This will truly be the greatest challenge he ever faces in his career.
How Long Has This Been Going On?
It should be noted that no one really knows the truth of what is going on because Aaron Rodgers has yet to address the public himself. However, back when Matt LaFleur was hired by the Packers, Gutekunst reportedly had words for his star quarterback. In some non-confirmed accounts, Gutekunst reportedly told Aaron Rodgers to “not be the problem” under head coach Matt LaFleur. In addition, the same reports said that Gutekunst was tired of the quarterback’s “diva” attitude.
Over the course of the week, reports were released that Rodgers was upset with the Packers’ front office for not involving him in roster moves. Specifically, the Packers’ cutting of Jake Kumerow the day after Rodgers’ publicly praised him as a death knell in their relationship.
From Ian: "Rodgers wanted to be more involved in personnel decisions… one thing that drove Rodgers nuts was when the organization released Jake Kumerow just a day after he praised him publicly. Described as a little bit of a death kneel in the relationship."
— Zach Kruse (@zachkruse2) May 3, 2021
The Jordan Love Pick
Of course, one of the most publicized issues between Aaron Rodgers and management came in last year’s Draft when the team traded up to take Jordan Love. After the pick was made, Rodgers revealed that he was not aware of the Packers’ plan to take a quarterback. Following the pick, Rodgers said he poured “four fingers” of scotch. Now, Gutekunst admits that the Packers should have communicated better with their quarterback.
#Packers GM Brian Gutekunst explained they could've played last year's draft differently in terms of communication.
— Baillie Burmaster (@baillie_burm) April 30, 2021
The Jerry Krause Taunt?
According to sources, Aaron Rodgers has mocked GM Brian Gutekunst in group chats with his teammates by referring to him as Jerry Krause.
Krause, the GM of the Bulls during their run of six NBA championships, was loathed by Michael Jordan for some personnel moves. pic.twitter.com/eUFxTStH4p
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) May 5, 2021
According to reports this morning, Aaron Rodgers apparently made fun of Brian Gutekunst in group text messages with his teammates. In these messages, he compared Gutekunst to Jerry Krause. Krause was the general manager of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. He was hated by Michael Jordan for the roster moves that he made, as documented in the Last Dance.
Matt LaFleur Is In the Middle
No matter which of these reports are true, one thing is clear. Matt LaFleur is the man in the middle. LaFleur has constantly stated his deep desire for Aaron Rodgers to return to Green Bay. “He sure as hell better be back,” he said after the NFC Championship game. In all of these reports, nothing negative has come from Rodgers in regards to his coach. Neither has management had anything negative to say about LaFleur.
This puts LaFleur in a very awkward position: the man in the middle. He wants Rodgers back, of course, but also must play nice with the front office. No matter what happens in the course of LaFleur’s career, this will be the toughest challenge he faces.
Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst and Mark Murphy in the draft room tonight for the Packers .. or possibly just planning on booking their next flight to California. pic.twitter.com/LRUGADlhli
— George Balekji (@GeorgeBalekji) April 30, 2021
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