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Is Aaron Rodgers laying the foundation to return to the Packers?

Peter King and Mike Florio debate whether the Packers can salvage the Aaron Rodgers situation or if their star QB is already done with the franchise.

It’s still unknown what Aaron Rodgers wants from the Packers because he still hasn’t said what he wants publicly. Indeed, he hasn’t said anything about the current situation publicly.

There’s nevertheless reason to believe that Rodgers -- who is sufficiently brilliant to be presumed to have a plan -- has been using other ways to send messages via the media. In recent days, for example, former teammates who have spoken with Rodgers have found their way to microphones with their characterizations of what Aaron wants. Obviously, if Aaron didn’t authorize guys like John Kuhn and James Jones to speak on the quarterback’s behalf, they risk landing on Rodgers’ personal sh-t list. (I’ve been there for more than a decade; like a hot bath, you get used to it.)

If that’s true, these former teammates could be laying the foundation for Rodgers to eventually yield in his desire to leave the Packers, given that the Packers aren’t inclined to grant his wish to be traded. And since it’s too late for Rodgers to personally put the toothpaste back in the toothpaste holder (not everyone says “tube,” as we learned this week on PFT PM), the next best thing could be using surrogates to gradually and persistently change the narrative.

Enter Kuhn, who appeared Wednesday on CBS Sports Radio. He outlined a path toward a resolution to the problem, and he pushed back against the prevailing belief that Rodgers wants out.

“I truly believe Aaron wants to come back to Green Bay, but he doesn’t want to do it on a lame-duck contract which, even though there’s three years on his contract if you really look at the terms of it, it pretty much sets up for a clean break at the end of the 2021 season for the Packers himself considering that Jordan Love is on a rookie salary,” Kuhn said. “So I think that he wants more insurance that he’s going to be a long-term starting quarterback option for the Green Bay Packers and that I believe is something that would intrigue him to make amends with the team and come back to this season.”

On Thursday, former Packers receiver James Jones appeared on NFL Network. He repeatedly called the situation between Rodgers and the Packers “fixable,” and that Jones doesn’t believe Rodgers will hold out.

If these messages take root, and there could be more in coming days from former or current Packers, a sense will emerge that the storm of reports from last week were overblown. Even if they weren’t. Even if Rodgers had every reason to knock them down on camera last weekend with Mike Tirico and declined to do so. Even if Rodgers left Tirico with the distinct impression that there is a “fissure” and a “chasm” between player and team.

The reality is that, if the Packers aren’t going to trade Rodgers, he has two options: Play for the Packers or play for no one (and give up nearly $30 million in unearned bonus money). He’s not inclined (obviously) to take his beef public personally, likely because he doesn’t want to become Public Enemy No. 1 in Green Bay. Unless and until he is, if he wants to play football, he’s going to have to play for the team for which he reportedly doesn’t want to play.

Enter players with whom he used to play, who can say enough to potentially soften the blow to his ego and pride that will happen when he shows up for work like Costanza the Monday after he quit.