SHEBOYGAN FALLS – Aaron Rodgers made it clear that he isn’t paid by the Green Bay Packers to be the general manager.
“Thankfully I’m not paid to do that job,” the Packers quarterback told Steve “The Homer” True and Mitch “Thunder” Nelles in an interview on ESPNMilwaukee and ESPNMadison Tuesday afternoon. “There’s obviously some tough decisions to be made.”
Then Rodgers proceeded to make it crystal clear what decisions he would make if he indeed held that job: Free-agent wide receiver James Jones would be re-signed, and veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher, a potential salary-cap casualty, would be back as a reserve.
"James is extremely talented and he's a guy that I think we have to bring back without a doubt," Rodgers said. "He should be priority No. 1. And I mean that with all my heart. He really should be priority No. 1. We don't win the Super Bowl without him. And we need him."
In 65 career games and 18 starts (including playoffs), Jones has caught 166 passes for 2,305 yards and 16 touchdowns. Last season was his most productive, with 50 catches for 679 yards and five touchdowns in 16 regular-season games and 11 catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers’ four postseason games, including Super Bowl XLV.
But he also dropped what may have been four long touchdowns during the season: a potential 72-yard touchdown in the Packers’ 9-0 win over the New York Jets on Oct. 31; a possible 29-yard touchdown in the Packers’ 45-17 victory over the New York Giants on Dec. 26; a likely 63-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers the Packers’ 21-16 NFC Wild Card victory at Philadelphia; and a potential 75-yard touchdown in the Packers’ victory over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV.
Asked about those dropped passes, Rodgers replied, "You know what? Physical mistakes are going to happen. Yeah, it's frustrating, but James made a ton of big plays for us [last] season and I think his best football is in front of him. Without a doubt, in my opinion, he’s Priority No. 1. But I’m not making those decisions. So there you go.
“I think he’s as talented a player as we’ve got on the team, and I think his best football is in front of him. And I think he’s a valuable asset that we don’t want to get rid of.”
As for Tauscher, who missed all but four games last season with a shoulder injury suffered on Oct. 3, Rodgers acknowledged that second-year tackle Bryan Bulaga earned the starting job but said Tauscher’s experience and leadership would be missed if he’s released to save more than $4 million in salary-cap space.
“I’m hopeful that Mark will be back with us, but I realize it’s a business, and I think he does as well,” Rodgers said. “I’m really hoping that he’s still with us. I don’t know what I’d do without that big guy in the locker room. He makes me feel better about myself every day. He’s an overrated backgammon and cribbage player, but he’s a hell of a (football) player, too. I hope we bring him back.”
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