GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers hasn’t done much armchair general managing lately.
The last time the Green Bay Packers quarterback really went to bat for players was a couple of years ago, when he made a public plea for wide receiver James Jones and fullback John Kuhn before training camp in 2011, shortly before both unrestricted free agents were ultimately re-signed. (Rodgers also advocated for veteran tackle Mark Tauscher that year, but he was not brought back.)
It’s unlikely that Rodgers’ public support did much to sway general manager Ted Thompson, who wasn’t inclined to listen to the advice of Rodgers’ predecessor, Brett Favre, either.
Nevertheless, Rodgers did take an opportunity Tuesday to support veteran safety Charles Woodson.
Speaking on his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN and ESPNWisconsin.com, Rodgers said Tuesday that he believes Woodson is an indispensable player that the team needs to bring back, despite a $10 million salary-cap number for 2013.
“I think it’s got to be one of the top priorities,” Rodgers said from his offseason home in Southern California. “I’m not sure what that’s going to look like, but I know he is under contract and that he is an important part of our football team, and I think he adds a lot. He is still playing at a really high level.
"He’s obviously very intelligent and sets a good example on preparation. He’s always watching film. He did a great job, especially, with guys like Sam Shields and Tramon (Williams), a few years back, when he kind of took them under his wing. Now Tramon is carrying on that tradition as a top-caliber player.
“Having his presence around the locker room really helps, set an example for the young guys and helps me out as far as being a leader.”
Asked if he thought Woodson would consider taking a pay cut to stay, Rodgers replied, “I really don’t like talking for other players, especially when it’s money is involved. That gets a little dicey. That is something they’ll have to work out. But I’ve said this before about other players: I don’t think you get better by taking from the whole, taking a core guy. And I think he is a core guy.”
The 36-year-old Woodson missed nine games after breaking his collarbone – the same one he broke during Super Bowl XLV in February 2011 – in an Oct. 21 game at St. Louis.
He has two years remaining on the five-year, $55 million extension he signed in September 2010. That deal included $21 million in advances and bonuses. Woodson’s 2013 and 2014 base salaries are each $6.5 million, and he is scheduled to receive $2.5 million roster bonuses in the spring of each year as well.
Asked late in the season if he’ll play in 2013, Woodson replied, “Oh, absolutely.” Asked if he expected it to be in Green Bay, he answered, “Until somebody tells me I’m not, this is where I plan on playing.”
Woodson was asked a similar question in the wake of the team’s Jan. 12 NFC Divisional Playoff loss at San Francisco, when he replied, “Those decisions will be made down the road. I don't know how that works out. But I'm going to play football (next year), if that's what you're asking."
One would think that the Packers would approach Woodson about a pay cut or contract restructuring, but Woodson said late in the year that there hadn’t been any discussion of that.
Woodson is one of a number of key players who face uncertain futures. Wide receiver Greg Jennings is an unrestricted free agent, while tight end Jermichael Finley and inside linebacker A.J. Hawk might be considered too expensive to keep. Veteran center Jeff Saturday, who has one year left on his deal, and veteran wide receiver Donald Driver, who is a free agent, are not expected to return.
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today” on 540 ESPN, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.