Media pundits have pointed to Aaron Rodgers’ lucrative contract for months and suggested some type of adjustment could be necessary to help the Green Bay Packers solve their 2021 salary-cap issues. And now, it would seem the Packers have been thinking the same thing.
In a recent piece for the Wisconsin State Journal, Packers insider Jason Wilde disclosed the team has already reached out to their three-time NFL MVP quarterback about reworking his contract to help them create cap space this offseason. Rodgers is currently set to carry a cap hit of about $37.57 million in 2021, but either restructuring or extending his current deal would grant them cap relief.
Here’s what Wilde wrote:
“According to a source, the team approached Rodgers around the time of the team’s Jan. 24 season-ending loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game about altering his contract to free up cap space. After that game, Rodgers notably mused about his own uncertain future with the team, and multiple sources said at the time Rodgers was merely seeking a longer-term commitment to him as the quarterback in the wake of last year’s first-round selection of Jordan Love in the NFL draft.”
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What Have Packers Said Publicly?
The Packers have done nothing but support the idea that Rodgers will be their starting quarterback for the long-term future when asked about the subject this offseason. Whether it be Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy saying “we’re not idiots” in regards to trying to trade him this offseason or head coach Matt LaFleur reaffirming Rodgers will “absolutely” be with the team for “a long time,” there have been no public “maybes” about him.
On the business end, though, where it counts? The Packers are still silent. General manager Brian Gutekunst was asked directly about Rodgers’ situation when speaking with reporters on March 2 and kept things decidedly vague about where things stand:
“With all of our players, I keep whatever conversations we have confidential,” Gutekunst told reporters on Tuesday. “But I will say we’ve reached out to a number of players — obviously David Bakhtiari being one who we’ve already gone down that route with him — working with those guys to kind of find solutions to this cap issue. I’m appreciative of those guys. I think everybody wants to try to put the best football team out there in ’21 that we can.”
Will Packers Restructure or Extend Rodgers?
As Wilde mentioned, the Packers caused a stir when they selected Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft despite having Rodgers under contract for another four seasons at the time. But a year later, Rodgers has only strengthened the case for remaining Green Bay’s starting quarterback playing one of the finest seasons of his veteran career and now has the Packers in a tricky spot when planning for their future.
Rodgers has automatic conversion rights built into his contract with the Packers, which means they can convert as much of his base salary and roster bonus as they want into a signing bonus whenever they choose. According to independent salary-cap specialist Ken Ingalls, the Packers could create $13.6 million in 2021 cap savings if they converted the maximum amount of both into a signing bonus, but moving on from Rodgers becomes more challenging in future seasons depending on how much they ultimately restructure.
Perhaps, though, the Packers are no longer interested in playing wait-and-see with Rodgers and Love and would rather give their veteran starter a longer-term commitment. They could add a season or two to his current deal — which runs through the end of the 2023 season — and get creative with spreading out his cap costs, but it would add more ambiguity to Love’s situation with the team with him entering Year 2 of his four-year rookie contract in 2021.
According to Over the Cap, the Packers still have to free up about $11.5 million in cap space before the new league year begins on March 17.
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