On Monday, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur held his end-of-season press conference.
He faced inevitable questions on Joe Barry's future and what's next for Aaron Jones and David Bakhtiari, and he even revealed his disappointment in his viral Anders Carlson comments.
Even after a season that exceeded expectations, there's a lot for LaFleur, general manager Brian Gutekunst, and the staff to sort through in the coming weeks. They must figure out the futures of several key players and how to build on a successful 2023 season.
Here's a breakdown of some notable takeaways from LaFleur's press conference.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur provides update on future of Joe Barry, Aaron Jones, David Bakhtiari
Matt LaFleur on Joe Barry's future
The million-dollar question is whether defensive coordinator Joe Barry will return for a fourth season in Green Bay. LaFleur quickly shut down any talk about that, noting he has yet to make a decision.
"We're just getting into the evaluation portion right now," said LaFleur. "I haven't met with any of our coaches yet. That'll start this afternoon."
"I haven't even thought about that at this stage. Kind of going through everything right now. I want to certainly sit down with every assistant before any decisions are made."
While LaFleur hasn't given an answer on Barry's future, his comments are potentially notable. During last year's end-of-season press conference, LaFleur said he "anticipated" his coaching staff to return, which hinted at retaining Barry. He didn't go down that route this time, which could suggest he is at least considering making a change.
LaFleur knew the questions would come and got ahead of them by saying he hadn't even thought about it. We'll see.
Matt LaFleur on Aaron Jones' future
Aaron Jones finished the season with the best stretch of his career, rushing for over 100 yards in five straight games. During that span, he put up 584 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
But he faces an uncertain future. Jones turns 30 next season, missed six games through injury this year, and has an upcoming cap hit of $17.58 million.
LaFleur was asked how Jones' age could impact his future in Green Bay.
"I think that's always a tough one," said LaFleur. "Shoot, the product looked pretty good to me. He certainly had an impact on the game, an impact on our offense, an impact on our team with our late-season push. I don't know if we'd do all that without him."
"Again, that's all part of the process."
It sounded like LaFleur wants Jones back, but he understands it's no guarantee. He praised his star running back, but his final comment about it all being "part of the process" was notable.
Matt LaFleur on David Bakhtiari's future
Another player with an uncertain future is star left tackle David Bakhtiari. The concern is Bakhtiari's injury history and 2024 cap hit of almost $40 million. The five-time All-Pro only played in one game this season, the Packers' opener at Chicago.
"I mean, he's a hell of a player, right? He is a hell of a player, and he had a big-time injury," said LaFleur. "So I'm sure we'll evaluate that, get more information, talk to Dave, and those decisions will be made in the near future."
In Bakhtiari's absence, second-year Rasheed Walker overcame a tough start to have a fantastic season. The Packers should feel confident in Walker entering 2024. But where does that leave Bakhtiari?
His future remains unclear.
Matt LaFleur on Anders Carlson comments
After Anders Carlson's missed 41-yard field goal against San Francisco, Tom Rinaldi reported on the TV broadcast that LaFleur told him: "When he goes out there, I just pray."
It's not a quote LaFleur would've wanted to be made public on the broadcast. He said he was disappointed by it, noting that it was taken out of context.
"That was extremely disappointing that that's how that message got portrayed," said LaFleur. "I've been part of production meetings ever since I became a coordinator, and I've never had an experience like that."
"It is what it is. I talked to Anders about it. I think anytime something is out of your control, kind of saying it in jest and having fun with it, but it got portrayed that way, and it's a learning lesson for me."
Coaches are often able to give honest answers during production meetings. It helps enhance the TV broadcast, but there's trust that the announcers won't reveal what they're not supposed to on air. One has to wonder whether this has damaged the trust, and whether LaFleur will be as open in future production meetings.