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Rodgers’ ‘uncertain’ future hangs over Green Bay

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) walks off the field after the NFC championship game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Green Bay, Wis. on Sunday, The Buccaneers defeated the Packers 31-26 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers said he’s not sure what his future holds in Green Bay. That was all it took to raise concerns about the Packers’ ability to contend in 2021 and beyond.

Green Bay earned the top seed in the NFC behind an All-Pro season from Rodgers, who at age 37 put his team in ideal position to win its first Super Bowl since the 2010 season and the second of his brilliant career.

But the Packers’ season ended with a dispiriting 31-26 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Sunday’s NFC championship game, and it didn’t take long for questions about the team’s long-term commitment to Rodgers to resurface.

After the Packers’ fourth NFC title game loss in seven seasons, Rodgers said “a lot of guys’ futures are uncertain, myself included.” Rodgers has three years remaining on the four-year, $118 million extension he signed in August 2018, but the two-time MVP has acknowledged on multiple occasions that his hopes of finishing his career in Green Bay were complicated by the Packers’ decision to select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love in the 2020 draft.

“There’s a lot of unknowns going into this offseason now,” Rodgers said. “I’m going to have to take some time away for sure and clear my head and just kind of see what’s going on with everything. But it’s pretty tough right now, especially thinking about the guys who may or may not be here next year. There’s always change. That’s the only constant in this business.”

Assuming Rodgers returns, the team around him could look quite different. The Packers’ list of potential free agents includes running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, All-Pro center Corey Linsley and cornerback Kevin King.

Linsley was asked Monday about the progress of contract negotiations.

“My agent hasn’t had any talks with the Packers,” Linsley said. “That’s obviously not to say something couldn’t happen, but up to this point it’s kind of been complimentary but nothing of substance.”

The Packers boasted one of the league’s top offensive lines this season thanks in part to All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Dec. 31. The Packers initially thrived without Bakhtiari, as they allowed just one sack in a win at Chicago and none in a playoff victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

Bakhtiari’s absence was much more noticeable Sunday. The Bucs recorded five sacks, matching their output from their 38-10 regular-season victory over the Packers. Green Bay allowed a total of 16 sacks in its other 16 games.

If this was the last game in Packers uniforms for King and Jones, it will be a tough way for them to go out.

King played through a back injury that had prevented him from practicing Friday. He was beaten on two touchdown passes — including a 39-yarder to Scotty Miller with 1 second left until halftime — and committed a pass-interference penalty that helped the Bucs run out the clock.

Jones, who gained more than 3,000 yards from scrimmage and scored 30 touchdowns over the past two seasons, fumbled early in the second half to set up a Bucs touchdown. He suffered a chest injury on the play that knocked him out for the rest of the game.

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