Aaron Rodgers' relationship with the Packers has been a dominant storyline throughout the offseason. It's a dynamic that has devolved over several years and manifests in its own ways with different members of the organization. While things might be rocky between the reigning MVP and Green Bay's front office, that doesn't appear to be the case with his teammates.
Take Robert Tonyan, for example. The breakout tight end said Friday on The Rich Eisen Show that he speaks with Rodgers regularly. Tonyan shared that they've checked on each other regarding their personal well-being and off-field matters. They just haven't discussed business.
"That's not a part of our friendship. We just leave that to the businessmen," Tonyan said. "... Aaron's been the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers for 16 years. I've been the tight end for four years. I think that's above my pay grade. I don't want to talk for him and all that stuff. That's just a business thing. I'm just going to continue to get better and play tight end for the Green Bay Packers. If, when or whatever happens and Aaron comes back, I'm ready, and there's no gray area with me. I'm ready to hit the ground running and win a Super Bowl whenever he's back."
Tonyan's commitment is clear, and his expectation that Rodgers will return seems strong as well. It's noteworthy that no Packers have expressed any real concern otherwise at this juncture. Of course, it wasn't a topic Tonyan was excited to engage in with Eisen either. But he did say Rodgers' absence has been on his mind this week during organized team activities.
"With any teammate who's important to you, whoever's important to you, you want him there," Tonyan said. "... You're not thinking about the whole situation and the whole process. I think we're just missing our teammate."
The fifth-year tight end appears to have forged a deeper bond with Rodgers through the course of his on-field emergence. After being released by the Lions before his rookie campaign, Tonyan signed on with Green Bay in December of 2017 as a practice-squad player. He caught all of 11 passes and made two starts over the next two years. Last season, having finally earned a full-time role, Tonyan exploded for 52 catches and 11 touchdowns. The connection between him and Rodgers was evident, as advanced metrics show Tonyan being the most reliable receiving target in all of football in 2020.
The former undrafted free agent credits his QB for continually pushing him to this point.
"From Day 1, he saw how hungry I was," Tonyan said. "I just want to be great. I've always wanted to be great. I don't want to be middle of the pack. I don't ever want to be sugarcoated with coaching or a coaching point or change to my game. I just want to be told straight up what I can get better at, or if that was good enough. For him to know how coachable I am and how great I want to be, he's just always been on me and never let me stoop below that mentality.
"He's always been with me from Day 1, and obviously the friendship off the field keeps growing where you can see him getting after me on the field, but that's just the competitive nature of both of us. He wants me to be there for him and I want to be there for him on the field."
As a certain signal-caller recently noted, it's about the people.