The Green Bay Packers must wonder: Where was this a year ago?
Shortly after the Packers handed Aaron Rodgers a contract extension that would see him earn $150 million across three years, the four-time MVP opted to skip the offseason program.
He had done the same the previous two years, winning MVP both times, but that was with a settled receiving corps. Last offseason, the Packers had brought in three rookies and Sammy Watkins to replace Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Offseason reps mattered.
Rodgers defended his decision to not attend OTAs, playing down the importance of getting reps with his new receivers before training camp.
So, what's changed? Rodgers attended the entire New York Jets offseason program this spring, and a recent report from Sports Illustrated sheds some light on the "difference" from previous years.
Former Packers teammates see a 'difference' in Aaron Rodgers
Quite evidently, Rodgers is loving his time in New York so far this offseason.
In a recent report by Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, some of Rodgers' former Packers teammates who joined him with the Jets have seen a "difference" in their quarterback.
"Those who were with Rodgers in Green Bay and now have seen him with the Jets—Taylor and fellow receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, as well as offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett—do see a difference in this Rodgers from the Packers version.- Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated
They see him open with everyone around him. Talking. Communicating. He's leading the young guys along. He's teaching Hackett's offense. He's very, very present."
Again, from a Packers perspective, where was this a year ago?
Just as Rodgers needs to build a relationship with his new teammates in New York, the same was true a year ago with rookie receivers Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Samori Toure.
Earlier this year, Doubs told the Maggie & Perloff show that he never had the chance to hang out with Rodgers.
Rodgers was then asked about Doubs's comments on the Pat McAfee Show.
"I'm 39 years old. The things that I'm thinking about and doing and spending my time doing are a little probably different than a 21- and 22-year-old," Rodgers said.
Again, it seems Rodgers is taking a different approach this summer. He has spent a lot of time out of the facility with his new teammates, including second-year Sauce Gardner.
"During OTAs, he's gone out with the guys. And every weekend, he's gone out with a different set of guys to get some time with everybody," Jets head coach Robert Saleh said, according to Albert Breer.
Would the Packers' 2022 season have gone differently had Rodgers hung out with Doubs more often? Probably not. It's not a big deal. What matters is the play on the field. But it all helps.
But Rodgers' approach this offseason shows he is all-in with the Jets. He has spent time on the practice field building a connection with his new teammates while getting to know them off the field.
If it's important for Rodgers to spend time with his new teammates now, why was this not true last year in Green Bay?
The Packers gave Rodgers a huge extension a year ago, but their MVP decided it wasn't important to show up at OTAs.
It's great to see Rodgers enjoying life with his new team. But after paying Rodgers last offseason, the Packers must be wondering: Where was this a year ago?