It’s OTA season. Voluntary OTA season. Voluntary but not really voluntary.
Players don’t have to be there. Most who stay away have some plausible business reason for doing so — even though there’s a very real business risk associated with a player working out on his own.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, for example, isn’t setting foot on a practice field until he gets his new contract. That’s smart. For Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who could have his new contract whenever he wants it, his reasons for skipping the sessions during which the offense is being installed aren’t known.
Then there’s Aaron Rodgers. The Packers gave him a mammoth new contract after he decided not to retire or request a trade. He’s now getting more than $50 million per year. Meanwhile, the team’s receiver room is undergoing major overhaul following the trade of Davante Adams. And Rodgers isn’t there for the process of moving forward with new pieces at the position.
He doesn’t have to be, but (frankly) he should be. It’s critical to start building a rapport with newcomers like Sammy Watkins and second-round rookie Christian Watson. Although many (including Rodgers) have pushed the idea that the Packers have found plenty of great receivers in rounds two and three of the draft, none were expected to walk through the door as the No. 1 guy. Watson is.
Why wouldn’t Rodgers want to be there to begin the process of helping Watson get more comfortable in advance of training camp? Rodgers presumably wants to add to his legacy by winning another Super Bowl. Why wouldn’t he take full advantage of the opportunity to work with Watson and Watkins and the rest of the receivers in a less rushed and stressful environment?
While it won’t necessarily make the team any better in 2022, it won’t make the Packers any worse. And maybe that extra time spent in May and June will help the Packers, you know, not lose at home in the playoffs in January. Again.
This isn’t about whether Rodgers needs the OTA reps in order to be the best version of himself when the real games start. This is whether other players need Rodgers there to be the best version of themselves.
They surely do.