Aaron Rodgers Raises 2021 Cap Number With Win Over Bears

Rodgers Pay Bump Week 17

Getty Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers talks with Mitchell Trubisky #10 of the Chicago Bears during the second quarter in the game at Soldier Field on January 03, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

Aaron Rodgers has most likely added value to his contract for 2021 after capping an MVP-caliber season with a dominant Week 17 win over the Chicago Bears.

Rodgers went 19-for-24 passing with 240 yards and four touchdown passes in the Green Bay Packers‘ 35-16 victory over the Bears, not only dismantling his NFC North rival but also ensuring the 37-year-old veteran quarterback finished his 13th NFL season in position to earn numerous incentives associated with his current contract.

Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating (121.5), completion percentage (70.7) and passing touchdowns (48) this season and finished tied with Patrick Mahomes for the lowest interception percentage (1.0), each one of them qualifying him for a $100,000 incentive for finishing inside the league’s top three. He also had the third-most yards per pass (8.2) and played on at least 72.5% of offensive snaps, crossing the threshold for another pair of incentive targets and bringing his possible performance earnings to $600,000.

Rodgers’ contract also includes bonuses depending on how far the Packers make it in the playoffs with payouts awarded for reaching the NFC divisional round ($120,000), NFC championship game ($130,000) and the Super Bowl ($150,000). By virtue of attaining the first-round bye, he has already qualified for the first of those three targets.

Rodgers’ performance and playtime incentives are not guaranteed, but they are all now considered “likely to be earned” for next season and will add a collective $720,000 to his cap number in 2021, according to salary-cap specialist Ken Ingalls.

In other words, expect Rodgers’ incredible 2020 season to make balancing the books slightly more difficult later this year — all the more if they make it to the final dance.

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Rodgers’ Future Locked in Place for 2021

The Packers will have a quarterback situation to address at some point in the next few seasons whether that means bringing first-round rookie Jordan Love to the forefront or finding a way to recommit to Rodgers for the remainder of his career. Either way, nothing — not even a third MVP for Rodgers — figures to change their plan much for next season.

Rodgers was never really considered at risk of losing his job in 2021, even before lighting up the league during the regular season. He is currently projected to carry a cap hit of $36.35 million next season and could have as much as another $1 million added due to earned incentives, but cutting him would incur $31.56 million in dead cap — a near-impossible cost to eat regardless of motivating factors.

The interesting thing to watch will be how the Packers progress with Love moving into Year 2. It seems unlikely they will bring back current backup Tim Boyle when he becomes a restricted free agent this offseason, especially not with a first-round talent waiting in the wings. If Rodgers turns out the way he did in 2020 and stays healthy, though, there won’t be much more than preseason and garbage-time reps available for Love as the No. 2.

Can Rodgers Continue Strong Year in Playoffs?

A third MVP for Rodgers would be nice, as nice as it was for the Packers to finish 13-3 with a first-round bye and home-field advantage, but getting back to the Super Bowl has always been one of the most important parts of their endgame. Now comes the time for the veteran quarterback to really distinguish himself.

All things considered, Rodgers was solid in his last playoff appearance when the Packers bottomed out of the NFC championship game. He completed 31 of his 39 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns against San Francisco, but the 49ers’ early lead and his two interceptions marred the overall performance. He also played well against Seattle with a 113.7 passer rating in the divisional-round win.

Rodgers touts an 11-8 overall playoff record with 5,027 passing yards, a 64.3 completion percentage (425 of 661), 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, but he has also gone 1-3 all-time in NFC championship games with losses in 2014 (Seattle), 2016 (Atlanta) and 2019 (San Francisco). His divisional-round record is 4-3, including the win during their run to the Super Bowl during the 2010 playoffs.

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