The Bears won’t be able to get rid of their greatest nemesis that easily.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers — who is 21-5 in his career against the Bears during the regular season and beat them in the NFC Championship Game in January 2011 — is moving closer to playing this season for the rival Packers, ESPN and NFL Network reported Monday.
After skipping offseason activities and giving coded interviews that barely masked his annoyance with the only franchise he has known, Rodgers might agree to a reworked deal in time to report to training camp Tuesday.
According to ESPN, the Packers might give Rodgers control over his future — be it via trade or free agency — after this season. His contract runs through 2023.
A reworked agreement also could open up salary-cap space for the Packers, giving them a chance to sign receiver Davante Adams to a long-term contract.
Rodgers’ return — for one season, at least — means the balance of power in the NFC North will remain where it has been for most of the last 30 seasons: with the Packers. If Rodgers chooses to leave after this season, however, he could take that run of success with him.
Either way, it appears 2021 might echo the photo Rodgers recently posted on social media — one of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in ‘‘The Last Dance.’’
As for the Bears, it’s complicated. Their dreams of not having to face Rodgers twice per season have dwindled.
The Packers’ control of the division hasn’t run out, but the Bears might be able to see the end of it from here. That might be just as important as the short-term disappointment.
While few expect journeyman quarterback Andy Dalton to lead the Bears to the NFC North title against a full-strength Packers team that finished last season in the NFC title game, 2022 might be a different story.
General manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy are under pressure to win this season, but the Bears’ timeline changed dramatically when they traded up to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields in April. Fields’ potential ascent would line up perfectly with that of a fading Packers franchise.
While beating Rodgers has proved to be almost impossible for the Bears, using Fields to defeat Jordan Love — the backup whose first-round selection in 2020 rankled Rodgers so much — might be only a year away.