The Detroit Lions are reportedly trading Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and multiple picks.

Stafford, 32, spent 12 seasons with the Lions after being selected with the top pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

But the quarterback will join the Rams, according to NFL Network and ESPN.

The reports said the Rams will send QB Goff, two first-round picks and a third-rounder to the Lions in exchange for Stafford.

Stafford started all 16 games for the Lions this season, completing 339 of 528 passes for 4,084 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Detroit were 5-11, missing the playoffs for the ninth time in 12 seasons since Stafford's arrival.

The Lions are without a playoff victory since the 1991 season, having lost in the Wild Card Round in the 2011, 2014 and 2016 campaigns.

Goff, 26, was with the Rams for five seasons and was also a number one draft pick – selected in 2016.

He helped the Rams reach Super Bowl LIII, which they lost to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Goff completed 370 of 552 passes for 3,952 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions during the 2020 regular season as the Rams reached the playoffs before losing to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Round.

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said he "can't answer" whether quarterback Carson Wentz will be with the team in 2021.

Sirianni was introduced as Philadelphia's new coach to replace Doug Pederson on Friday and attention has already shifted to embattled Eagles QB Wentz.

Wentz – who signed a lucrative four-year, $128million contract extension in 2019 – was benched in favour of rookie Jalen Hurts in Week 13, raising serious questions over his future in Philadelphia.

The 28-year-old Wentz ranked 23rd for completions (251), 34th for passing percentage (57.4), 25th for yards (2,620) and tied for 20th for touchdowns (16), while he was equal first for interceptions thrown this past season.

"I can't answer that," Sirianni said during his introductory news conference after being asked if Wentz would be back in 2021.

"Again, evaluating everything. Again, there's a lot of things to go through. Evaluating everything."

"You look at a lot of rosters and they don't have any quarterbacks, right, that they feel really good about. We have two. That's unbelievable to have two quarterbacks who have played and that have played well," he added.

"I couldn't have watched more tape on Carson Wentz in 2018. When Frank and I got back together, when we were installing our offense with the Indianapolis Colts, we watched a lot of Chargers tape, and we watched a lot of Philadelphia Eagles tape from 2017.

"Man, what an impressive player. He's got so much talent, and from what I've heard from everybody, great person. Good talent, good person, it takes your game to really high levels. So excited.

"Jalen got his snaps last year and was able to play last year and he played good football in meaningful games. Not a lot of people have that luxury of having two quarterbacks that have experience, so super excited to be able to work with them because, obviously, we all know how important that position is to a football team."

The Eagles have turned to rookie head coach Sirianni after NFL Super Bowl-winning boss Pederson was fired following a tumultuous 2020 campaign.

Sirianni spent the past three seasons working for the Indianapolis Colts – the 39-year-old former offensive coordinator also previously spending time with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers in various roles.

After moving to Indianapolis in 2018, Sirianni and the Colts twice reached the playoffs – beaten by the Buffalo Bills in this season's Wild Card clash.

But Sirianni will step into his first head-coaching job, tasked with restoring a struggling franchise, who ended the season 4-11-1 having won their first Super Bowl in 2017.

The Houston Texans have "zero interest" in trading Deshaun Watson following the quarterback's reported request to be dealt to a new team.

Watson is said to want to leave the team that drafted 12th overall in 2017, having grown extremely dissatisfied with the direction the Texans have been heading in over the past year.

He is reported to have been frustrated at his lack of input during the team's search for a new head coach, which concluded on Friday when they confirmed the hiring of David Culley.

Speaking at Culley's introductory media conference, general manager Nick Caserio got out in front of anticipated questions about Watson by reaffirming their commitment to him.

Caserio said: "Organisationally just want to reiterate our commitment to Deshaun Watson.

"He's had a great impact on this organisation, great impact on a lot of people, great impact on this team, we look forward to the opportunity to spend more time with him here this spring once we get started.

"We have zero interest in trading the player, we have a great plan, a great vision for him and for this team, for his role in this team and we look forward to the opportunity to spend more time with him this spring."

Culley added of Watson: "I want him to be a Houston Texan. The reason I'm in this position today is because I knew he's going to be a Houston Texan, the outside stuff that was being said was irrelevant to me."

The Texans are reported to have fielded calls from teams across the league about a trade for Watson. 

Among the teams to have enquired about Watson are the New York Jets, Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers.

Watson led the NFL in passing yardage with 4,823 in the 2020 season and threw 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

Since making his debut in 2017, Watson is third in the league in yards per attempt with an average of 8.32, trailing only Patrick Mahomes (8.39) and Jimmy Garoppolo (8.33).

The Houston Texans have confirmed the hiring of David Culley as their new head coach. 

Culley's appointment was first reported on Thursday, with Bill O'Brien's successor inheriting an unenviable situation in Houston. 

Franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson has reportedly requested a trade, having expressed significant dissatisfaction with the direction of the organisation and his lack of involvement in their search for a new head coach. 

Watson's desire to continue his career elsewhere has overshadowed the hiring of Culley, who takes over a team that went 4-12 in 2020 despite the 2017 first-round pick leading the league in passing. 

Culley, the former assistant head coach/pass coordinator/wide receivers coach with the Baltimore Ravens, said: "On behalf of my family, I would like to thank Janice, Cal and Hannah McNair for the amazing opportunity of being the next head coach of the Houston Texans. 

"To say that I am excited and that this is a dream come true is an understatement. Along the way, I have had countless people, organisations, family members and friends pour into me and prepare a path for me. 

"My genuine hope is that this moment is as much theirs as it is mine. Let's get to work and let's do it together!"

Recently appointed general manager Nick Caserio added: "Heading into this process, it was imperative to find a head coach that our entire organisation could rally behind and David is unquestionably that leader.

"David's infectious energy, passion for the game and ability to command a room was clear from the start. As he shared his vision for how a head coach should lead a football team, it further solidified our belief in him.

"His mentality of being selfless and willing to accept any challenge while investing in each person within our program resonated with all of us. I could not be more excited to welcome David Culley and his family to Houston as the next head coach of the Texans."

Bruce Arians believes if there was a player who could match Tom Brady's incredible NFL career, it would be Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes and Brady are preparing to go head-to-head when the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet in Super Bowl LV on February 7.

Brady, 43, will play in his 10th Super Bowl and aim to win it for a seventh time. No other player has even played in seven, with Mike Lodish and Stephen Gostkowski having featured in six.

He is also a four-time Super Bowl MVP and three-time NFL MVP, honours Mahomes has won once previously.

Buccaneers head coach Arians said Mahomes, 25, was capable of matching Brady.

"I think there's so much that goes into that. There's 21 others guy on your team," he told a news conference on Thursday.

"If it was a throwing contest, hell yeah, he'd go get it, but there's a lot of things that happen in different seasons and what Tom has done is historic.

"But there's no doubt that if there was a player who could do it, it would be Patrick."

Mahomes goes into the Super Bowl having won 25 of his past 26 starts (including the postseason). Brady (2003-04) and Jim McMahon (1984-87) are the only other quarterbacks to win 25 of 26 at any points in their careers, and both went 26 of 27.

While the Chiefs are aiming for back-to-back championships, the Buccaneers are in the Super Bowl for the first time since the end of the 2002 season.

Along with Brady, Tampa Bay also landed Rob Gronkowski ahead of this season, and Arians hailed the duo's impact.

"I didn't know about Gronk's work ethic, it's unbelievable. He comes in early, stays late, is great, but he's Gronk so he's got that great personality to go with his work ethic," he said.

"You knew Tom was a great leader. With COVID I don't go in the locker room very much, but those two guys brought something extremely special because they've been there and done it and when young players see that, they listen and you see two totally different personalities doing it the same way."

Tom Brady said his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had been "magical" as he prepares for Super Bowl LV.

Brady has led the Buccaneers into the showpiece for the first time since the end of the 2002 season, and the quarterback will line up in his 10th Super Bowl when Tampa Bay face the Kansas City Chiefs on February 7.

While the Buccaneers have that huge game ahead, the 43-year-old said his first campaign with Tampa Bay had been special.

"As it's played out, I've just thought, 'Wow, this has really been a magical year'," Brady told a news conference on Thursday.

"For me as a player to switch teams, that takes a lot and to move my family and to go to a different conference and then to keep building the way we did and develop a rapport with the guys that we have here, so much about football is about the relationships you get with your team-mates, your coaches.

"It's certainly the fact that we're still playing feels really good for me and understand we've put a lot into it and hopefully we can go finish the job, that would be the best part about the season is winning the last game, it's always been a goal, win the last game of the year.

"We've got an opportunity to do it, it's certainly not going to be easy, it's going to take everything we've got, we're going up against a great, championship-level team and it's going to take our best."

Brady will be aiming for his seventh Super Bowl win. No other player has even played in the game seven times (Mike Lodish and Stephen Gostkowski have featured in six).

While Brady is preparing for his 10th Super Bowl, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians will lead a team in the showpiece for the first time.

Brady was full of praise for the 68-year-old, who is in his second season in charge of Tampa Bay.

"He's a great man, he's a great leader, he's a great person, he's a great friend, he's very loyal, he's just got a great way about communicating effectively with everybody around here and everybody has a great affection for him for the person he is," he said.

"There's nobody that ever would say anything bad about BA. He's so endearing to everybody and I think everyone wants to win for him and I think that's what you want to do for a coach, you want to get out there and you want to win for him.

"He puts a lot into it, expects a lot out of it, has high expectations for us every day in practice and just really excited for him to be recognised in the way that he is.

"I know he's two-time coach of the year, but just done an amazing job this year with the team in really adverse situations and just love playing for him."

Ben Roethlisberger wants to play another NFL season and said he is willing to do whatever it takes to remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The veteran quarterback addressed the swirling speculation about his future with the only franchise he has ever known on Thursday, telling The Athletic that he has approached the Steelers about restructuring the final year of his contract.

"I want to do everything I can and made that very clear to them from the very beginning that it was my idea to basically help the team however I can this year," Roethlisberger said. 

Speaking to a group of reporters earlier, Steelers president Art Rooney II affirmed that Roethlisberger has informed the team of his desire to play an 18th NFL season but added that keeping the two-time Super Bowl champion on the roster would be unfeasible with the Steelers' current salary cap situation.

Roethlisberger has a $41.25million cap hit for 2021, the highest of any player, and next year's cap is expected to drastically decrease due to a loss in league revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I think we've been up front with Ben in letting him know that we couldn't have him back under the current contract. I think he understands we have some work to do there," said Rooney per ESPN.

"We'll have conversations internally, and we'll have more conversations with Ben, and we'll have to know what the cap number is to finalise some of those decisions."

Rooney would not say whether the Steelers would ask Roethlisberger to take a pay cut instead of restructuring his deal to spread the remaining $22.5m in guaranteed money across future seasons.  

He said: "I think that those are discussions we'll have with Ben and his representative. It takes two to figure that out, and whether we can agree with what he wants, we'll just have to see."

Rooney added the Steelers remain open to Roethlisberger, who turns 39 in March, returning next season despite his advanced age and decline in play during the second half of a 2020 campaign that ended with a disappointing home loss to the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Wild Card playoff round. 

"We owe it to him to have a conversation about how he wants to end his career, and we intend to that," he said.

Roethlisberger made a successful comeback from a career-threatening elbow injury that limited him to two games in 2019, though his effectiveness waned as last season wore on.

The six-time Pro Bowler threw for 22 touchdowns and only four interceptions while producing a 103.0 passer rating through the first nine games – all Pittsburgh wins. He was intercepted six times with an 83.2 rating over the next six as the Steelers went 3-3 and eventually dropped to the AFC's number three playoff seed.

Roethlisberger did set an NFL postseason record with 47 completions while throwing for 501 yards and four touchdowns in Pittsburgh's lone playoff game but was picked off four times as the Steelers were dealt a 48-37 loss to the Browns.

Despite the rough ending to 2020 for himself and his team, Roethlisberger expressed confidence that both remain capable of performing at a high level next season.

"I am pretty sure I want to go one more year," he said. "I think I can do it and give us a real chance at winning."

Deshaun Watson does not want to take another snap for the Houston Texans.

The disgruntled quarterback formally requested to be traded from the Texans, according to multiple reports. 

Watson reportedly asked to be traded more than a week ago. 

Reports that the 25-year-old was unhappy in Houston and wanted to be traded began to surface after Nick Caserio was hired as general manager on January 7.

Watson was upset that owner Cal McNair did not consult with him in the decision-making process in hiring a new GM. 

The report that Watson has officially requested a trade comes a day after the Texans hired former Baltimore Ravens assistant David Culley to be their new coach. 

According to reports, regardless of who the Texans hired to replace the fired Bill O'Brien as coach, Watson wanted out of Houston. 

The three-time Pro Bowler is signed through the 2025 season after agreeing to a four-year, $156million extension last September and has a no-trade clause, so he will need to approve any potential deal the Texans concoct. 

Watson led Houston to back-to-back AFC South titles in 2018 and 2019 but the team stumbled to a 4-12 mark this past season – the same record the team posted in Watson's 2017 rookie season. 

Despite the team struggles in 2020, Watson put together a season unlike any other in NFL history, becoming the first quarterback with a completion percentage of higher than 70 percent while throwing for more than 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns with fewer than 10 interceptions. 

He led the NFL in passing yards this past season, throwing for personal highs, as well as, single-season franchise records of 4,823 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also had a career-low seven interceptions and career-high 70.2 completion percentage – the 12th highest single-season mark in NFL history (minimum 300 attempts).

Bruce Arians says there is no chance he will retire after Super Bowl LV if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Buccaneers beat the Green Bay Packers 31-26 in the NFC Championship Game last weekend to set up a showdown with the defending champions a week on Sunday.

Tampa will be the first side to have home advantage for the Super Bowl in NFL history when they do battle with the Chiefs.

Arians quit in 2017 after five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals due to medical concerns, but returned two years later to take over as Buccaneers head coach.

The wily 68-year-old says he has no intention of walking away if he lifts the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the first time next week, providing owners the Glazer family are happy for him to stay on.

"Hell no. I'm going for two," Arians told 95.3 WDAE when asked if he might sign off on a high note.

"There's no doubt. If the Glazers will have me back, I'll be back."

The legendary Tom Brady has showed age is no barrier by inspiring the Buccaneers' run to the Super Bowl in his first season with the franchise.

Asked what he would have told general manager Jason Licht if he had told him Tampa would play in a Super Bowl with Brady as quarterback when he took over as head coach, Arians quipped: "What are you smoking or drinking? And get me some."

In the win over the Packers, Brady became the third player all-time with three-plus touchdown passes and three-plus interceptions in a conference championship game.

It was the 20th occasion Brady has led a team to 30 or more points in a postseason game – no other player has even managed half of that total – and the 43-year-old is set to feature in his 10th Super Bowl, four more than any other player in history.

In an offseason that has already seen the NFL Scouting Combine cancelled as the league continues to adjust to life amid the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 Senior Bowl takes on added importance.

This week's practices and Saturday's game in Mobile, Alabama will be the only chance NFL front office personnel get to see a host of the NFL Draft's better prospects on the field at the same time.

Plenty of members of the draft's elite are missing, but there will still be a large number of intriguing prospects hoping to impress the scouts in the stands with a strong week. 

Here we look at five such players and dive into some of the numbers that have made them worthy of close attention during proceedings in Alabama.

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

The Heisman Trophy finalist surpassed all expectations in his lone season as the Crimson Tide's starting quarterback, stepping into the shoes of Tua Tagovailoa and leading Alabama to the National Championship, which they clinched with a stunning rout of Ohio State.

Jones demonstrated hugely impressive accuracy on downfield throws, a trait reflected in his yards per attempt average of 11.19, which led college football. Decisive and astute in reading the field and making decisions, Jones threw 41 touchdowns to just four interceptions, his TD-INT ratio of 10.25 second in college football behind Zach Wilson of BYU, a likely top-five pick in this draft. 

The challenge for Jones in Mobile will be to demonstrate to those in attendance that his success was not simply a product of the extraordinary amount of talent around him at Alabama and boost his hopes of going in the first round.

Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Among the talent Jones had at his disposal in 2020 was monstrous running back Harris, who used his extraordinary physical gifts to put together a dominant campaign.

At 6ft 2in and 230 pounds, Harris possesses a remarkable blend of size, speed agility and power, which allowed him to rack up 30 total touchdowns this past season.

Showing a freakish ability to hurdle defenders in the open field, Harris was seventh in the country with 145.5 scrimmage yards per game.

Teams should not need much more evidence as to Harris' strengths, but with an impressive week at the Senior Bowl on the field and the interview room, he can make sure he comes off the board either late on day one or early on day two.

Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Florida quarterback Kyle Trask will not feature in Mobile because of an ankle injury but one of his top targets will be on show.

A versatile receiver who excels as a pass-catcher and as a runner out of the backfield, Toney has proven himself a dynamic weapon in the open field.

He averaged 6.9 yards after catch per reception in 2020. Among wide receivers with at least 50 catches, that put him 13th in the FBS and fifth in the SEC.

His 485 YAC saw him ranked seventh in the FBS and fourth in the SEC among receivers, with his skills after the catch a key reason why he is regarded by some as first-round talent.

Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest

Surratt is unlikely to be taken as early as Toney having opted out of the 2020 season, but he should receive plenty of attention from teams looking for a big-play threat.

In 2019, Surratt led the ACC with 100.1 receiving yards per game, while he also caught 11 touchdowns.

Following a year out of the limelight, Surratt will aim to prove his talents as a downfield weapon can translate to the highest level.

Shaka Toney, EDGE, Penn State

You can never have too many pass rushers and Toney is among those who will be out to catch the eye of teams looking to bolster their reserves on the edge.

He recorded 20 sacks in four seasons with Penn State and did an excellent job pressuring opposing Big Ten quarterbacks in 2020.

Toney had 16.5 hurries, tied for third in the Big Ten, while his 21.5 total pressures were fifth in the conference.

Having put up those numbers for a poor Penn State team, the next test for Toney is to win his one-on-one battles with offensive linemen during Senior Bowl week.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Fisher is set to sit out Super Bowl LV against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after suffering a torn Achilles tendon.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid confirmed the injury a day after the reigning NFL champions topped the Buffalo Bills 38-24 in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Fisher – a two-time Pro Bowler after being selected first in the 2013 NFL Draft – won the Super Bowl with the Chiefs last season as Kansas City claimed their first championship in 50 years.

But the 30-year-old will not feature in back-to-back Super Bowls after being helped off the field against the Bills at Arrowhead Stadium.

Fisher played in all 15 regular-season games this campaign and both playoff matchups for the Chiefs.

Kansas City's offensive-line depth has been tested this season due to injuries and players opting out before the start of training campaign.

Ahead of the February 7 Super Bowl at Raymond Jones Stadium – the home of Tom Brady's Buccaneers – Reid told reporters on Monday: "They're talented guys.

"In some cases we've had some young guys step in and ... we've had some older guys step in. That combination has been able to get us through some games here. Most of all, I think the quarterback trusts them, as do the running backs.''

Should the Chiefs retain their crown, star quarterback Patrick Mahomes would be the youngest starting QB (25) to win multiple Super Bowls, surpassing Brady (26).

Mahomes joined Kurt Warner, Brady and Russell Wilson as the only quarterbacks to reach the Super Bowl twice in their first four NFL seasons, per NFL Research. The reigning Super Bowl MVP will have to beat Brady to join him as the only QBs to win it twice in that span.

 

Tom Brady's father revealed he and his wife both battled coronavirus last year in a "life and death" situation as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar prepares for his 10th Super Bowl.

Another Super Bowl awaits six-time champion Brady, who guided the Buccaneers past the top-seeded Green Bay Packers 31-26 in Sunday's NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field.

Brady – who is in his first season with the Buccaneers after 20 trophy-laden campaigns at the New England Patriots, led Tampa Bay to the NFL showpiece for the first time since 2003.

Tampa Bay will become the first team in NFL history to play a home Super Bowl – at Raymond James Stadium, where defending champions the Kansas City Chiefs await on February 7.

It has been a challenging season in the NFL and for people around the world due to COVID-19, and Tom Brady Sr. opened up on a family battle involving his wife Galynn that left the Buccaneers quarterback "stressed out".

"When the season started this year I was in the hospital with COVID for almost three weeks and my wife was sick with COVID at the same time," Brady Sr. told ESPN.

"We didn't even see the first two games of the year. It was the first two games I ever missed of his career because I was sick as a dog and my wife was as sick as a dog.

"I didn't even care if they were playing much less missing the game. It was a matter of life and death, just like anyone who goes into the hospital. It was serious stuff.

"Tommy fought through it and now it's in the rear-view mirror. We're healthy, we're happy and everything is good."

Brady – who will go head-to-head with reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV – now has more playoff wins since turning 35 (17) than any other quarterback has in his entire career, per Stats Perform.

Tampa Bay's Brady became the third player all-time with three-plus touchdown passes and three-plus interceptions in a conference championship game, joining Joe Montana (1981 NFC Championship) and Mark Malone (1984 AFC Championship).

It was also the fourth time Brady has thrown three-plus interceptions in a playoff game, and his teams are 3-1 in those matchups (most such wins all-time) – his sides are 0-9 when he has three-plus interceptions in a regular-season game.

This was the 20th occasion Brady has led his team to 30-plus points in a postseason game – no other player has even half that total (second is Troy Aikman with nine). Brady's teams are 18-2 in those games.

Brady will feature in his 10th Super Bowl – the next most by a player is six by Mike Lodish and Stephen Gostkowski, after the Buccaneers became the fifth team all-time to win three road games in a single postseason.

"This year has been unbelievable," he continued. "Not knowing where we're going to start the season out, and being where we are to end the season is just a stunning development as far as I'm concerned.

"… Getting to the 10th Super Bowl in 19 years of playing is pretty -- it's incomprehensible, actually. It's beyond anything we could ever imagine."

Baltimore Ravens star and reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson "deserves" a new deal, insisted general manager Eric DeCosta.

Jackson is entering the final year of his rookie contract after his third NFL campaign came to an end at the hands of the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Divisional Round.

The 24-year-old quarterback is set to command a lucrative contract after Kansas City Chiefs counterpart Patrick Mahomes and Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson each signed big-money deals.

"There is certainly a chance of that [discussing contract]. I will be talking to Lamar probably in the next 10 days or so," DeCosta told reporters on Monday.

"He's down in Florida. We've got a great relationship. He's got a great relationship with this organisation. He's a very easy person to talk to and certainly deserves a contract.

"He has played phenomenal football over the last couple of years. Our intention, and my intention, is to keep him in Baltimore for many, many years."

But the coronavirus pandemic means long-term contracts will be more challenging, with DeCosta adding: "With the salary cap there are some unique challenges this year. The cap could be $175million, it could be $185m, we don't really know yet."

Jackson has won more games (30) than any other quarterback since taking over as Baltimore's starter midway through the 2018 season and became the fastest QB in NFL history to reach 30 regular-season victories (37 games).

He is also the first in league history to produce 5,000 passing yard and 2,500 rushing yards in his first three NFL seasons.

Jackson had 242 completions for 2,757 yards – at 64.4 per cent – 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 15 appearances for the Ravens this season.

In total, Jackson has tallied 606 completions, 7,085 yards, 68 touchdowns and 18 interceptions since entering the league.

"A couple of years ago, when I was doing my first press conference, we said we would try to do more deals, we would try to sign our players," DeCosta said.

"We've done that, and I'm proud of that. A lot of the credit for that really does go to [senior vice-president of football operations] Pat Moriarty and [director of football administration] Nick Matteo. It's something that evolves over time. These types of things just don't happen arbitrarily.

"We want to keep our good young players. We want our fans to be able to reap the enjoyment of these players over time, if we can. We will continue to engage in talks with all of our good young players."

Fortune favours the bold. It is a phrase has been used so often that it has become a worn-out cliche. But cliches are cliches because they consistently ring true, and that famous Latin proverb applied at Lambeau Field on Sunday as the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers suffered more playoff heartache.

Their forlorn efforts in last year's NFC Championship game rout at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers still fresh in their minds - defensive coordinator Mike Pettine showed the game to his group last week in an attempt at motivation - the Packers reached the same stage this season seemingly well placed to put those memories behind them and reach Super Bowl LV.

The top seed in the NFC, the Packers matched up significantly better with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers than they did the Niners last year and had the potentially crucial advantage of playing in freezing conditions at Lambeau Field in front of 8,500 fans.

And yet, with the chance to force a compelling back-and-forth encounter into overtime, the Packers - specifically their head coach Matt LaFleur - shied away from the opportunity, taking a conservative approach that ultimately proved their undoing.

LaFleur's costly caution

Green Bay faced a fourth and goal from the Tampa Bay eight-yard line trailing 31-23 with a little over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

If LaFleur had needed evidence of how to approach this situation, it came at the end of the first half when, rather than punting and settling for a 14-10 half-time lead, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians went for it on fourth down and, a play after converting to keep the drive alive, gave Tom Brady the green light to launch a 39-yard bomb to Scotty Miller that put Tampa Bay 21-10 to the good.

Rodgers and the Green Bay defense helped the Packers recover from a 28-10 third-quarter deficit and move into striking distance. However, when it came time to make a crucial decision, LaFleur ignored the old axiom and instead opted for caution, taking the ball out of the hands of his best player as he elected to kick a field goal and trust his defense to get the ball back.

It was a task that proved beyond them as a contentious pass interference penalty gave Tampa a game-sealing first down, leaving Rodgers to reflect on another year in which the Packers came up short.

Wondrous Rodgers

LaFleur's rejection of the aggressive approach that served Arians well at the end of the second quarter ensured that one of the best seasons of Rodgers' Hall of Fame career was wasted.

Rodgers is a near-lock to win the third MVP of his career after a season in which he took an offense of the Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay ilk to new heights.

He led the league in completion percentage 70.7, threw for 4,299 yards, a league-leading 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

His TD-INT ratio of 9.60 was the sixth-best in NFL history and second among quarterbacks to have played 16 games in a season, behind his 2018 mark of 12.50.

Tied for third in the NFL with 37 passing plays of 25 yards or more, few offenses were more explosive than that of the Packers in 2020, with Rodgers' adjusted net yards per attempt figure of 8.89 tied for sixth of all-time.

That is the same number Patrick Mahomes posted in his 2018 MVP season and, just like the Kansas City Chiefs that year, the end result for the Packers was a devastating loss.

Unlike the Chiefs, the Packers now face the prospect of significant changes in the offseason that could impact their ability to continue to contend in the NFC.

A challenging offseason

In an offseason where the salary cap could shrink to $175million, the Packers may lose center Corey Linsley and running back Aaron Jones to free agency, while Davante Adams, who led the NFL in receiving touchdowns (18) and yards per game (98.1) in the regular season, is a candidate for a lucrative contract extension.

The Packers, therefore, face some tough decisions in the offseason and it is the lack of clarity over how the team will look in the immediate future that seemingly led Rodgers to describe his own future as "uncertain" in his post-game media conference. 

Rodgers may have been over-dramatic in the heat of the moment and another season with the Packers appears more likely than a move elsewhere or his retirement.

But the downcast attitude Rodgers presented after the game was indicative of a quarterback who knows that Super Bowl windows are, for most teams, ephemeral by their nature.

With his fourth-down call, LaFleur ensured another year of the Packers' window slipped through their fingers. If they now struggle to keep a formidable team together and Rodgers' career ends without a second Super Bowl ring, LaFleur's rejection of the bold will be remembered as a key reason why.

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