GREEN BAY – Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst addressed the media for 30 minutes during his pre-draft news conference on Monday.
Here are five things we learned:
1. Nothing is finalized, but all signs point towards the Packers trading Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets by the start of the NFL Draft.
After a quiet month, Gutekunst said talks with Jets general manager Joe Douglas intensified over the last "five or six days." While the parameters of a deal appear to be in place, there are still a few details to iron out in what would be one of the most significant trades in franchise history.
"We were expecting it to be done very quickly, hopefully soon," Gutekunst said. "A lot of things have been agreed upon. Some things to go through.
"There's been a lot of conversation that's helped us get to this point. Again, there's still things that need to be done. It's not finalized, but we do expect it to be done here in the next couple days."
When Gutekunst stepped to the podium at 3:30 p.m. Central Time on Monday, it had been 40 days since Rodgers publicly expressed his desire during an appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show" to be traded to the Jets after 18 years in Green Bay.
Two weeks later, Gutekunst told reporters at the NFL Annual Meetings in Arizona he was confident that the Packers could arrange a trade with the Jets. Gutekunst said there were a few times he wondered if a deal would get done but praised Douglas for being "excellent to deal with" during negotiations.
"It was a long process. You have to be prepared for everything," Gutekunst said. "I felt it would get done all along but, at the same time, as long as it took, there were certainly times where you're kind of like, 'Well, maybe it won't and how are we going to proceed going forward.'"
Once a trade is finalized, it'll close one of the most storied chapters in the Packers' 104-year history. Rodgers won four NFL MVP Awards during his 15 seasons as the Packers' starting quarterback. He also was named Super Bowl MVP following Green Bay's 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.
"I have so much respect for Aaron, not only the person but the player that he is," Gutekunst said. "He'll always be a Packer. He'll be one of the best who have ever done it around here. I have a lot of respect how he went about it and he'll be missed. There's no doubt about it. Players like that don't come around very often, but at the same time, we're really excited where we're headed and what we're moving to do and wish him nothing but the best."
2. Getting a deal done now is best for both sides.
The Packers could end up with 12 picks in this year's draft once the trade is finalized, giving Gutekunst plenty of capital to invest into the future of the football team this weekend.
From the beginning of the negotiation process, Gutekunst has been steadfast about getting at least partial compensation for Rodgers in this year's draft.
"Once we do get it squared away, that will be a nice feeling 'cause we'll kind of actually know exactly what we have for this particular draft, going into it at least until we start moving around a little bit," Gutekunst said. "Moving forward with compensation for this year's draft was important to us."
3. Gutekunst sees a bright future for Rodgers in New York but also is excited to begin building around Jordan Love.
Although Rodgers will turn 40 in December, Gutekunst believes the 19th-year veteran still has "some really good football left in him."
Meanwhile, the Packers are ready to press on with Jordan Love under center. Gutekunst traded up in 2020 to select former Utah State quarterback 26th overall. Love's opportunities have been limited but he is coming off a promising 2023 season that was highlighted by his relief appearance of Rodgers against Philadelphia in Week 12.
The 24-year-old quarterback saw extensive first-team snaps last season while Rodgers nursed thumb and rib injuries. Love reported last Monday for the start of the offseason program after spending a portion of his offseason working independently with receiver Romeo Doubs and running back Aaron Jones.
"As we got through the offseason and started talking about where we wanted to go, this made a little bit of sense for us," Gutekunst said. "We're really excited where Jordan could go. He needs to play, and having him sit another year, I think, would have really delayed kind of where we were going and what we're trying to build."
4. The 2023 NFL Draft is deep, particularly at edge rusher and tight end.
Three days from his sixth draft as GM, Gutekunst had plenty to say on a strong 2023 class.
That's especially true at two positions of need for Green Bay: edge rusher and tight end. The Packers have Preston Smith, Kingsley Enagbare and Justin Hollins but finished last season without their top pass rusher after Rashan Gary tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Detroit.
The 33rd Team has 16 edge-rushers and eight tight ends ranked in its top 100.
"I think there's a lot of deeper class of edge players than there have been in other years (and) tight end is another one I mentioned earlier, as well," Gutekunst said. "I think it's a good draft overall. Certainly, it's one we're excited about, one that we really believe we're going to be able to add to our football team and help us win in 2023 and beyond."
5. Gutekunst would like to have at least three quarterbacks for organized team activities.
The pending trade of Rodgers to New York leaves the Packers with just two quarterbacks on the offseason roster: Love and Danny Etling, who spent all last season on the practice squad.
When Rodgers succeeded Brett Favre in 2008, former general manager Ted Thompson selected Louisville's Brian Brohm in the second round and LSU's Matt Flynn in the seventh that year. It's the only time since 1989 Green Bay has double-dipped on the position.
Over the last decade, the Packers have drafted just three quarterbacks: Love, Brett Hundley (fifth round, 2015) and B.J. Coleman (seventh, 2012). Whether Green Bay uses a draft pick to address the position or signs a veteran, Gutekunst said he'd like to have a third arm when the team begins the throwing portion of the offseason program.
"We only have two on the roster, (so) whether it's this weekend or somewhere down the road we're going to have to (add some)," Gutekunst said. "I'd like to have three, at least, before we get to any of the throwing stuff. We're not there yet. Certainly, we're going to add to that room whether we end up with three, go into camp with three or whether we have four, we'll kind of see. There's some guys in this draft we're very high on. If they happen to be at the right spots, as you know I won't hesitate. But we'll kind of see how that shakes out."