Agent’s POV: Packers’ account with Aaron Rodgers and a look at the star QB’s three options
The Packers suffered a stunning 13-10 loss to the 49ers in the divisional playoff round. As the NFC’s No. 1 seed for the second straight season, an early exit from the playoffs was not expected. With Green Bay’s season over, quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ football future comes to the fore.
Rodgers is under contract through the 2022 season after his 2023 contract year was turned into a void/fictitious year in a bid to end his offseason break with the Packers, during which he considered taking his retirement. “I don’t want to be part of a rebuild if I want to keep playing,” Rodgers said in a post-game media briefing. Packers management is unanimous in wanting Rodgers to return to Green Bay.
Rodgers originally indicated he would make his decision before free agency began on March 16. He changed his schedule without giving a specific date Tuesday on The Pat McAfee Show. Rodgers suggested he would decide before the end of the franchise’s nomination period to be sensitive to the situation of All-Pro receiver Davante Adams. The 15-day window to nominate franchise players runs from February 22 to March 8. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport recently reported that the Packers plan to place a franchise tag on Adams. Rodgers has three choices: return to the Packers, demand a trade or retire.
Back to Packers
The issues that made Rodgers unhappy won’t be an obstacle to his return to the Packers. They are in the rearview mirror. A strained relationship with general manager Brian Gutekunst has improved significantly since last offseason.
Green Bay having one of the toughest salary cap situations in the NFL might be a different story. Using NFLPA data, the Packers are $43.97 million over the agreed-upon salary cap of $208.2 million for 2022 based on offseason accounting rules. Only the top 51 earners (i.e. caps) count against these rules. The Packers have 51 players under contract for the 2022 championship year.
A $20.12 million Adams franchise tag, which is not included in the $43.97 million surplus, would only compound Green Bay’s cap problems. Some salary cap gymnastics with restructuring contracts and releasing players is going to be necessary whether Adams is franchised or not.
Rodgers had an interesting response when asked on SiriusXM’s The Adam Schein podcast earlier this month if he thinks maybe the grass isn’t greener on the other side. He said, “The grass is greener where you water it.” The Packers would be prohibitive favorites to win a fourth straight NFC North title, even with some roster turnover due to free agency and the salary cap.
Rodgers playing the final year of his contract is not feasible due to Green Bay’s salary cap situation and its 2022 cap of $46,664,156, which is the second highest in the NFL. He is expected to earn $26,970,588 in 2022, consisting of a base salary of $26,470,588 and a coaching bonus of $500,000.
A contract extension where Green Bay gets significant relief from the 2022 cap would be in order with the return of Rodgers. Rodgers reportedly rejected an offer from the Packers to make him the NFL’s highest-paid player ahead of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes of $45 million a year during the break last offseason. Since details have not been revealed, it is impossible to determine how friendly this offer was to the team. Presumably, the Packers would still be willing to do the same with a somewhat player-friendly structure, given that Rodgers is on course to win back-to-back NFL MVP awards.
Rodgers’ current contract signed in 2018 included a then-record signing bonus of $57.5 million. Eclipsing Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s record $66 million signing bonus could make sense under the circumstances, especially with Rodgers’ desire to play well into his 40s, as he’s told several before. occasions.
The Packers are expected to be able to clear $10 million of the 2022 space cap through a market value Rodgers extension. One way to do that is to cut Rodgers’ base salary to $1,470,588 while giving him a signing bonus of $75 million over a four-year extension. There would be $15 million in new annual signing bonus prorated from 2022 to 2026. Rodgers’ cap for 2022 would drop from $46,664,156 to $36,664,156 in the process.
The ideal scenario for Green Bay would be for the 38-year-old Rodgers, due to playoff shortfalls in recent years, to follow Drew Brees’ path when he was in his late 30s. At 39, Brees gave the Saints a financial break for the first time in his many contract dealings with the franchise in 2018 to try to maximize his chances of winning a second Super Bowl ring. Brees probably could have become the league’s first $30 million-a-year player had he leveraged his leverage by exploring potential options with other teams. Instead, Brees signed a two-year, $50 million contract with $27 million fully guaranteed to stay in New Orleans after limiting negotiations to just the Saints.
$25 million a year was a 3.09% increase from the one-year extension Brees signed in 2016. A new deal would be in the neighborhood of $35 million a year with Rodgers, whose only appearance and Super Bowl victory was in the 2010 season, taking a similar approach. The cap relief would need to be much larger without Rodgers continuing to maximize his earnings, as the signing bonus wouldn’t need to be as large.
Request an exchange
The Packers would reluctantly trade Rodgers since the organizational consensus is to keep him in the fold. A trade could change the math with Adams. He hinted that he would probably want to follow Rodgers out the door. 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love doesn’t seem as ready to become the starting quarterback as Rodgers was when Hall of Famer Brett Favre was dealt to the Jets in 2008. Franchise Adams in a bid to trading it would become a viable option.
The cost of acquiring Rodgers should be less than the three first-round picks and two second-round picks the Texans wanted in exchange for Deshaun Watson, who is 26, given the 12-year age difference. between the two players. Watson is also already under contract through the 2025 season for $136 million, an average of $34 million a year.
The Packers should be able to get more in return for Rodgers than teams with non-Pro Bowl-caliber quarters in recent years. For example, the Texans gave up a 2020 first-round pick (26th overall), a 2021 first-round pick (third overall), a 2021 second-round pick (36th overall), safety Johnson Bademosi and offensive tackle Julie’n Daveport in exchange for offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills, a 2020 fourth-round pick and a 2021 sixth-round pick in the days leading up to the start of the 2019 season.
The acquisition team would need $26,970,588 in cap space to absorb Rodgers’ salary in 2022. The Packers would earn $19,817,018 in cap space with the trade. There would be $26,847,138 in dead money, which is a salary cap charge for a player who is no longer on a team’s roster. It is believed to come from the prorated $19,173,568 in 2022 bonuses to his $57.5 million signing bonus, from the $14.26 million converted to signing bonuses in a contract restructuring in December. 2019, of the $14,464,706 in signing bonuses during the July 2021 restructuring and $7,637,570 in prorated bonuses associated with the Cancellation/dummy of contract year 2023. Presumably, the exchange would take place before the the 2022 NFL Draft begins on April 28 as the Packers want immediate draft capital.
A contract extension would likely be a necessity since 2022 is Rodgers’ contract year. The acquiring team would also be barred from using a franchise tag on Rodgers, as his 2023 contract year is not void until the 2023 designation window closes. Assuming Rodgers insisted on being the highest-paid player in the league, his 2022 cap number could at least be halved based on the size of his signing bonus.
Rodgers reportedly had his sights set on playing for the Broncos last offseason before mending the fences with the Packers. Green Bay offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is a finalist for the vacant Broncos head coaching job. Hiring him would make Denver an even more attractive destination for Rodgers.
It’s hard to imagine Rodgers retiring. The reigning MVP’s retirement is almost unprecedented. The only time that happened was when Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown hung up his cleats in 1966 after winning the award in 1965.
The retirement would be final. Rodgers laid off a season and then made a comeback.
Rodgers would likely work with the Packers, like Brees did with the Saints last year when he retired, for optimal cap treatment. This would consist of Rodgers creating $26,470,588 of immediate cap space by lowering his 2022 base salary to his minimum salary of $1.12 million while also eliminating his $500,000 practice bonus and 520 $000 of incentives deemed eligible to be earned that have a cap charge. The Packers would keep Rodgers on the roster until at least June 2 to prevent the $7,637,570 in prorated bonuses tied to his canceled 2023 contract year from becoming a 2022 cap charge. That would be 2023 dead money. At that point, Rodgers would be placed on the reserve/retired roster and his base salary of $1.12 million would also be taken off the books for further cap relief.
The Packers could get more wiggle room by exercising their rights to refund the $11.5 million pro-rated 2022 signing bonus from Rodgers’ 2018 signing bonus. Demanding a refund would be a safe bet. to alienate Rodgers.