As Aaron Rodgers’ next offseason begins, we’re all waiting alongside the Packers

And so… it begins.

At the right time, a frenetic, tumultuous and often fascinating regular season ended Sunday night, so began a new story that bears a striking resemblance to an old one we’ve seen so often before.

The magical and mystical Aaron Rodgers Offseason Saga is officially underway – an epic adventure that will have twists, turns and plenty of guesswork. It will likely end the same way it started, with the four-time MVP back in a Green Bay Packers uniform.

Rodgers is a showman, and whether that’s really intentional or not, it really doesn’t matter. The things he does lend themselves to conjecture and speculation. The things he says are an exercise in reading between blurred lines and trying to decipher if his statements are actual philosophy or if he’s dropping easter egg hints about what’s to come.

“Is it time?” Rodgers reflected on Sunday, after a 20-16 loss at the hands of the Detroit Lions eliminated Green Bay from the playoffs, ending a four-game winning streak that put fate in their own hands after a sad start to the year.

“At some point, the merry-go-round stops and it’s time to get off, and I think you know when that is. That’s what you have to look at.”

As Rodgers contemplates, it’s fitting to engage in some self-reflection, centered on the reality that the Packers’ loss to the Lions was a multi-layered story.

The Lions themselves were worthy heroes, though they narrowly missed the postseason, as a gritty group of players and an eminently likable head coach Dan Campbell capped a 9-8 year that started 1-6 . By the end, they were playing at a level to match the best teams in the NFC, and frankly, the playoffs would be better for their presence.

From afar, the Seattle Seahawks were grateful for their effort, with the Packers’ loss putting Geno Smith and company in the game after surviving an overtime thriller earlier in the day.

As usual, though, all the talk comes back to Rodgers.

When he refused to swap jerseys with former teammate Jameson Williams, saying “I’ve got to stick with it,” then walked off with his arm around close friend Randall Cobb, retirement talk was fueled, even with a pay package worth more than $58 million guaranteed for next year.

Even Detroit was talking about him, no doubt his barbs about “that team” earlier this year provided bulletin board material. The Lions weren’t going easy even when their own fate was sealed by Seattle.

Rodgers doesn’t come across as the most likable figure, and it wasn’t hard to find people delighted with him and the Packers missing the postseason, even though his removal took away the juicy possibility of another Packers-San Francisco playoff run 49ers shock

However, Rodgers has a compelling story, and he will follow it until the resolution comes. He could walk away and that would be the ultimate Aaron Rodgers move, give up all that money just because he didn’t feel like it anymore, and maybe spend the time on a global meditation tour.

He’ll probably come back, you think, but is that just because that’s what happened the last two years, when a similar doubt was sown after the last game?

As always, his comments provided a mixture of confusion and clarity.

After disappointment is sometimes when Rodgers is at his most philosophical, all the love and gratitude and loss is part of the wonderful journey of life. And hugs

“It’s a little raw right now,” he told reporters. “I want to get the excitement out of it and have some conversations and see how I feel after some time has passed. I’m not going to hold them hostage.”

“The competitive fire will always be there,” he added. “I don’t think that ever goes away. Sometimes it moves, I think, to other things that may never fill that big void. But like I said, I feel good about what I’ve accomplished in this league and I wouldn’t do that. I don’t I regret leaving. But I have to see how it feels once I get away from it.”

And then he talked about the beautiful moments, likened a football season to some kind of ceremony, what kind wasn’t clear, and ruminated on brotherhood, appreciation and life.

Who knows what will happen, but it’s already established as one of the most vibrant talking points of the NFL offseason. Green Bay will be hoping for a quick answer because they haven’t had enough looks at Jordan Love to really know if he’s part of the future or even a viable trade piece.

Rodgers will work at his own pace. Guessing is fine; good luck trying to figure out what it will do.

The only time he’s put a real, definitive timeline on how much longer he’s been playing was eight years ago, when he was asked how much time he had left, and he just said the number “eight.”

Did you mean eight years? Or eight more seasons or eight birthdays, which could mean different things?

With Aaron Rodgers, there’s always more mystery ahead.

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Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX i subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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