Specific details about the Green Bay Packers’ negotiations with Aaron Rodgers are beginning to come to light with training camp just a week away and lingering uncertainty about whether the NFL’s reigning MVP will show up.
Rodgers has kept his distance from the Packers over the past several months with no-shows at both the team’s voluntary OTAs and mandatory three-day minicamp in June. While he remains under contract for another three years, there have been numerous reports from insiders that the 37-year-old quarterback is unwilling to return to Green Bay without some form of change to his situation.
Money, however, does not seem to be the root of the problem.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Packers offered Rodgers a two-year contract extension earlier this offseason that would have tied him to Green Bay for the next five seasons and made him the highest-paid quarterback in the league, surpassing Patrick Mahomes’ average annual salary of $45 million. He rejected the offer, though, reinforcing the idea that earnings didn’t motivate his offseason holdout.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport had initially reported on the Packers making Rodgers a “significant, long-term offer” back in May, but the length of the offer was not disclosed at the time. It also remains unclear whether the Packers have presented Rodgers’ camp with more than one offer throughout the offseason.
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Rodgers’ Indicated ‘Culture’ Was Key Motivator
The argument that Rodgers deserves to be making more money is hardly an outlandish one. As of July 20, Rodgers is tied with new Detroit Lions starter Jared Goff as the fifth-highest-paid quarterback in the league and commands an average salary of $33.5 million, ranking him behind Mahomes, Dak Prescott ($40 million), Deshaun Watson ($39 million) and Russell Wilson ($35 million) as an annual earner. At the very least, he should be the top-paid passer in the NFC North.
Extending Rodgers can also financially assist the Packers in the short term. While he is currently set to carry the league’s highest quarterback cap charge ($37.202 million) for the upcoming season, the Packers could strike a new deal and redistribute the payouts in a way that maximizes their spending potential over the next few seasons. It is a kick-it-down-the-road strategy, but such is the Packers’ (recent) approach to business.
If Rodgers rejected an offer that would have raised his annual salary by at least $12.5 million, though, there is clearly a missing ingredient beyond the books. Perhaps, the veteran quarterback wants more roster input in who gets released, as former teammate and friend James Jones suggested in June.
Rodgers also hinted the issues could be a little bit more personal during his appearance on SportsCenter for Kenny Mayne’s final show in late May.
“Look, it’s never been about the draft pick, picking Jordan (Love). I love Jordan,” Rodgers told Mayne. “He’s a great kid, a lot of fun to work together. (I) love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay — an incredible 16 years. It’s just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting that it is about the people that make the thing go. It’s about character, it’s about culture, it’s about doing things the right way. A lot of this was put in motion last year, and the wrench was just kind of thrown into it when I won MVP and the way I played last year. So, this is just I think the spillout of all that.”
What Does Offer Mean for Jordan Love?
Love will finally get the opportunity to show how he handles himself in live-game action when the Packers host the Houston Texans for their preseason opener on Aug. 14, but Green Bay tying itself to Rodgers through 2024 or 2025 would raise some serious doubts about his own long-term role with the team moving forward.
As things stand now, Love and Rodgers are both under contract through the 2023 season. The Packers could pick up Love’s fifth-year option to retain him for 2024, but it would serve little purpose if Rodgers is still in place as their starting quarterback via an extension. After all, it is unreasonable to think Rodgers would stick around if Love ever surpassed him on the depth chart for non-injury-related reasons.
The Packers could always take a page from New England’s quarterback playbook. The Patriots selected Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft and used him as a premium backup for Tom Brady for the first three and a half seasons before trading him to the San Francisco 49ers in October 2017, getting back a (better) second-round pick than they used to take Garoppolo in the first place.
Maybe Green Bay’s front office isn’t willing to give up on Love’s potential so soon, but a trade could be an option worth considering if Rodgers is extended.