The drama around Aaron Rodgers contract extension negotiations has taken another twist. In reports over the weekend, Rodgers and his agent have asked for an opt-out clause to be included in the contract language. Give Rodgers and his agent credit, they could essentially ask for the moon from the Packers and get it because of how valuable he is to the team.
Without Rodgers, the Packers simply are not even close to being in the Super Bowl conversations, much less playoff contenders or even discussed as a potential favorite in their own division. Should he be the highest paid player on the team? In the league? Of course he should.
Paying Rodgers $30+ million a year will definitely present some challenges for the Packers. In a salary cap league, all that money going to one player is going to hamper any thoughts of Packers fans wanting the team to sign big name free agents. Not saying that they won’t be able to sign free agents, they just won’t be able to go after the top echelon of players. They will remain a draft a develop team which will be good for their salary cap and long term growth, just as long as they draft well.
This season will be Rodgers fourth year on his current five year deal, of $110 million he signed in April 2013. This year he will count $19.8 million against the cap and $20 million against the cap next year. He also has roster bonuses of $600,000 each year and workout bonuses of $500,000 each year. So, it’s not like the Packers do not have any leverage in these contract negotiations with their star player. They can essentially turn it into four years remaining instead of two, by placing the franchise tag on Rodgers. That definitely is not the preferred strategy or would it be ideal.
In May, the Atlanta Falcons made Matt Ryan the NFL’s first $30 million dollar a year player. Which was just shortly after the Minnesota Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to three-year $84 million deal that was full guaranteed. This puts the pending Rodgers deal in perspective. One could assume that on a yearly basis Rodgers will get $31 – 32 million, if not close to the $35 million range. It is also not out of the question that the deal would be fully guaranteed.
As far as the demands of including an opt-out clause in the contract, that is something that Packers fans should not be too worried about. Rodgers has stated numerous times that he would like to play is entire career in Green Bay and retire a Packer. He has an ownership stake in the Milwaukee Bucks and other connection throughout the state. He also likes seeing some of the old Packer greats, such as Bart Starr, Jerry Kramer, being still connected to the team and how they are revered throughout Green Bay, the region and state of Wisconsin.
The opt-out clause is simply providing him with additional opportunity to renegotiate his contract when it becomes obsolete and he is no longer the highest paid quarterback / player in the NFL. This type of clause allow him to be the first player with the flexibility to renegotiate the terms of his contract on his own terms and not on the teams terms. Rodgers understands that the final years of his career on not entirely under his control, as he has witnessed Brett Favre’s departure early in his career, and most recently seeing his best friend Jordy Nelson get released. Rodgers is just trying to have a little control on on the final years of his career will go.
Whenever Rodgers new deal is complete, and however it gets structured, it is sure to be unique and for an enormous amount of money.
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag