GREEN BAY – The refrain remains the same. And it figures to for as long as the much-discussed Aaron Rodgers contract extension remains an idea and not a pen-to-paper reality.
Whenever the Green Bay Packers quarterback was asked during the offseason about a potential new deal – a question that came up virtually every time a microphone was in front of him – Rodgers’ reply was essentially the same: His focus is on making himself indispensable to his team. Agent David Dunn, and Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst and negotiator Russ Ball, can worry about the dollars and cents.
He’ll concern himself with continuing to be vital to the team’s success – a reality that was once again reinforced last season, when a broken right collarbone ruined his season and derailed the Packers’ eight-year streak of postseason appearances.
“I expect to play at an MVP-caliber level this year, like I do every year. I’m not worried about it,” Rodgers said when asked about contract talks early in the offseason. “(I have) the same motivation that I’ve always had. It’s to be a great player, to be reliable, to be consistent and to be available. To be on the field for all 16 games. Obviously, I wasn’t there last year, so it was disappointing but there’s things you can control and things you can’t control. We’ll try to control the things to get myself ready to go and ready to play 16 games.
“I think as you get older, and you see a lot of your friends move on, retire, get cut, get injured and stop playing, you have that point where you think about your own career and how long you can go. And for me, I got even more motivated to be an irreplaceable part of our team.”
That’s exactly what Rodgers is – but he’s not the only one the Packers can ill afford to lose in 2018. Given their blatant lack of proven depth at certain positions, the offseason investments they made at several spots and the injury histories of a number of key players, there are others on the roster the team is clearly counting on this season.
To be clear, the Most Important Packers of 2018 list is not merely a list of the best players on the team’s roster. Rather, the primary factors are the individual player’s talent, the inherent importance of the position he plays and the team’s depth at the position. Think of it as a list of the players the team can least afford to lose if it wants to return to the Super Bowl. The list was formulated through offseason conversations with players and coaches, as well as statistical reviews and player evaluations by ProFootballFocus.com and others.
– Jason Wilde
For the State Journal
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