The NFL’s First Guaranteed $100+ Million Dollar Man

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

The Inflated Quarterback Market:

With the market value for NFL quarterbacks increasing by the day many have been speculating about what that means for Aaron Rodgers next, and likely final contract in Green Bay. Over the past two weeks, I have written a series of articles addressing the many needs that the Packers have on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball going into the 2018 season.

Through these series of articles, I have created multiple scenarios in which the Packers cut players and restructured contracts to free up an extra $27 million in cap space which gave them approximately $46 million to spend going into free agency next month.

Proposed Restructured Contracts:
1. Jordy Nelson
2.Brian Bulaga
3. Mason Crosby

Proposed Released Players:
1. Randall Cobb
2. Lance Kendricks

Then, with the $46 million in cap space I created a scenario in which the Green Bay Packers signed 10 free agents that addressed the Packers offensive and defensive needs going into the 2018 season.

Potential 2018 Free Agent Signees
1. Tramon Williams-$3 million
2. Sheldon Richardson- $4.5 million
3. Alex Okafor- $1.5 million
4. Morgan Burnett- $5 million
5. E.J Gaines- $10.5 million
6. Adrian Clayborn- $7.5 million
7. Jahri Evans- $1 million
8. Jarvis Landry- $12 million* Franchised by Miami for 1 yr $16 million
9. Tyler Eifert- $500,000
10. Will Beatty- $200,000
*Annual Salary Cap Allocations $45.7 million

How Free Agency Will Effect Aaron Rodgers Contract Extension:

Under this proposed scenario many have been left to wonder exactly how Aaron Rodgers contract will get done during the offseason. The simple answer to this question is….. it won’t. Yes, you heard me right, it will not get done this offseason.

The next series of questions should be why won’t Aaron Rodgers contract get done, and David, have you lost your mind?

Let’s address the first question, and hopefully, that will provide you with a clear answer to the second question, either way.

Why won’t/shouldn’t the Packers extend Aaron Rodgers in 2018 offseason?

This answer is simple and two-fold; first, the Packers should not extend Aaron Rodgers because he still has 2 years left under his current contract (2018 and 2019) and because the Packers have too many glaring weaknesses on their current 53 man roster. If you are the Green Bay Packers, why begin your contract negotiations with Rodgers from a position of weakness, or in the Packers case, from their most vulnerable position since Aaron Rodgers became the starting quarterback?

I believe that at this stage in Aaron Rodgers career, it is more important for the Packers to show him that they have a solid team infrastructure in place that has a good chance of competing for a Super Bowl title in each of the remaining seasons of his career, then to hastily offer him the richest contract in NFL history.  By paying Rodgers this offseason, the Packers will hamper their ability to pursue top free agents both for this offseason and beyond (A hasty offseason contract offer reeks of weakness and desperation).

Patience is a Virtue:

In order for the Packers to present Rodgers with the most attractive 5-year plan, they MUST build a more complete 53 man roster by addressing each and every weakness on the 53 man roster through both the draft and free agency. Accomplishing this goal will require all of the Green Bay Packers available cap space for the 2018 season.

However, if the Packers are able to acquire players who provide both depth and impact to their roster, they should see a dramatic improvement in results, and become a serious title contender once again. If this comes to fruition, the Packers can confidently present Aaron Rodgers with a 5 year deal in 2019, that will make him both the highest paid player in NFL History (5 years $140 million- completely guaranteed, $40 million signing bonus, $20 million annual cap hit), and give him an opportunity to win a Super Bowl in each of his remaining seasons in Green Bay.

How is it possible to pay Aaron (5 years $140 million) and still build a team around him?

This scenario is possible by simply combining the excess money of the expiring restructured $7 million contract of Jordy Nelson, and the 2018, $20.5 million cap hit of Aaron Rodgers current contract. By allocating the money of Aaron Rodgers new contract this way, the Packers will still be able to retain any potential free agents that they sign this offseason, and pursue free agents in future seasons using the money of other expiring contracts.

Proposed Salary Cap Allocation Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson in 2018:
1. Aaron Rodgers $20.5 million
2. Jordy Nelson $7 million

2019 Proposed Deal for Aaron Rodgers: (5 years 140 million, $40 million signing bonus)

2019 average annual salary: $28 million
-2018 combined average annual salary of Jordy Nelson and Aaron Rodgers: $27.5 mil.
Packers Net loss in cap space: $500,000 (still keep any signed free agents from 2018 or cap space that they did not use)

But, With the Adjusted Cap Figure from the $40 million signing bonus, Aaron Rodgers contract extension looks like this:

5 years $100 million remaining for an annual cap hit of $20 million

Packers add: Jordy Nelson’s $7 million in 2019

Final Thoughts 💭 

This scenario brings my entire proposed 2018 free agent picture together. As you can see, this is a two-year plan that does address Aaron Rodgers contract extension and creates a scenario that allows the Packers the financial flexibility to improve their roster through free agency annually. The projected free agent signees are always debatable; that is what makes the back and forth banter so much fun. What is not an item up for debate, is that the Green Bay Packer’s front office must use their cap space to add depth and impact to the 2018 53 man roster.

Stay tuned for next Monday’s article when I create an early round draft scenario that will address the Packers needs on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

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David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave

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