When Will Aaron Rodgers Retire?
It's an ugly, sad question. It's also an important one.
When will Aaron Rodgers retire from (hopefully) the Packers, and the NFL?
When Rodgers and the Packers agreed to their five-year, $110 million 2013 extension, the quarterback said he thought he his legs and body could hold up until he would be 38 years old in the 2021 season.
"A lot of times you don't see a deal all the way through if you're playing well. It's just the nature of some of these contracts. That's a long way off. In order to even get to that conversation, it's going to take many years in a row at a consistently high level of play for me, which I expect to do," Rodgers said. "And I'm going to get myself in the best shape mentally and physically to do that, and hopefully we can have that conversation in seven years where I can still play and maybe we can keep this thing going."
The following season on the anniversary of his draft day, Rodgers hinted he may be at the halfway point of his career, retiring in 2022 at the age of 39:
This tweet was likely the first time many Packers fans thought about the end of Rodgers' career. When ESPN's Jason Wilde followed up with Rodgers on the tweet, the quarterback said the tweet was not meant to be taken literally.
Two years later in 2015, Rodgers spoke about a desire to play until age 40 – the 2023 season.
"I mean it's always kind of been the measure," Rodgers said in a piece by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein. "Longevity is usually only achieved through consistency because it's a 'what have you done for me now' league. You know job security is tight, with general managers, with coaches and with players. It's always been tight.”
Then, during a 2016 interview on former teammate A.J. Hawk’s podcast, Rodgers said he wished to play six to eight more seasons.
“It's a tough league. At some point, they're going to kick you to the curb, and I think you have to be ready for what's next and also be realistic about your abilities," Rodgers said. "I hope both those things are in line when my time comes -- and hopefully it's not for another six, seven, eight years."
If he were to play seven more seasons (the podcast was recorded before this past season), he would be 42 years old at retirement in 2025.
This April marked the 12 year anniversary of Rodgers being selected by the Packers in the first round of the NFL Draft. The quarterback tweeted a message – perhaps more sentimental than realistic – about playing through the 2029 season, when he would be 46 years old.
Given how Rodgers' tweet on the same day in 2014 was not meant to be taken literally, it's likely this tweet would fall under the same category. However, it's not absolutely out-of-this-world for him to be thinking about playing into his forties.
Around the league, talk of elite quarterbacks playing into their 40’s is common. Tom Brady, who turns 40 in August, told Peter King this offseason he’d like to play “until my mid-forties,” Drew Brees turns 39 in January, and isn’t talking about retirement despite entering the final year of his contract with the New Orleans Saints.
When Aaron Rodgers thinks he'll retire
Aaron Rodgers chooses his words carefully. Since an ill-timed quote in a 2008 issue of Sports Illustrated, the quarterback rarely says something flippant or offhand. His comments are thoughtful and meaningful.
(OK, except for all the tweets about PETA and Tom Crabtree.)
Based on Rodgers' comments above, here's how long Rodgers plans on playing in the NFL:
- 2013: 38 years old, 2021
- 2014: 39 years old, 2022
- 2015: 40 years old, 2023
- 2016: 40-42 years old, 2023-2025
- 2017: 46 years old, 2029
So, what can we learn from this timeline?
First, it's clear Aaron Rodgers is having the time of his life playing quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. You don't continue to push back your projection of when you want to step away from the game if you're not having fun.
And for Rodgers, when he's not tossing a Hail Mary, he's throwing unbelievable passes to put his team in position to win games. Remember how excited he was on the sidelines after the Dallas upset in the playoffs?
Second, it seems Rodgers has believed for each of the past five years that he has approximately a decade left of football in him. Based on his most recent projection – again, probably more sentimental than realistic – he's thinking about playing until age 46.
Brett Favre was 38 in his final season with the Packers.