The Green Bay Packers are still waiting for Aaron Rodgers to decide if he wants to return in 2022, but it sounds as though that decision could hinge on whether the Packers are willing to make him the NFL’s highest-paid player.
According to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, Rodgers is expected to inform the Packers of his decision “within the next week or so,” but the four-time NFL MVP quarterback is also looking to sign a new contract that would pay him about $50 million per season and make him the highest paid in the league “by a wide margin.”
“From the conversations I’ve had with a lot of people in the league, he wants to be the highest-paid player in the NFL — by a wide margin,” Russini said during her February 24 guest appearance on The Rich Eisen Show. “So, we’re talking about $50 million a year. And we know the cap situation the Green Bay Packers are in, we know Davante Adams needs to get paid, so there’s a lot on the table.”
If Rodgers signed a new deal that paid him in the ballpark of a $50 million annual salary, he would be making about $5 million more per season than any other player in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes is currently the league’s highest-paid player, earning $45 million per season on the 10-year megadeal he signed with Kansas City in 2020.
Rodgers has an average annual salary of $33.5 million on his current contract that ties him with Jared Goff as the sixth-highest-paid player in the league. Other starting quarterbacks that earn more than him include Josh Allen ($43 million), Dak Prescott ($40 million), Deshaun Watson ($39 million) and Russell Wilson ($35 million).
The Packers have repeatedly expressed a desire to bring back Rodgers for the 2022 season, but it remains to be seen whether they can offer him the extension he desires given their current cap restrictions. Even after restructuring their deals with Kenny Clark and Aaron Jones, the Packers are still more than $39 million over the cap for next year.
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Packers Could Offer Rodgers’ Desired Contract
The Packers have the means to offer Rodgers a new contract worth upwards of $50 million per year and still reduce his current cap charge of $46.66 million for the 2022 season, but that doesn’t mean the process of giving him what he (reportedly) wants would be easy for the organization.
Brad Spielberger, a cap specialist for Pro Football Focus, estimated a realistic scenario could be the Packers offering Rodgers a four-year, $210 million contract extension in light of Russin’s report about his desired contract. It is the type of deal that would certainly make Rodgers the highest-paid player in the league “by a large margin;” although, given how the Packers structure their contracts, it would also most likely take the inclusion of a signing bonus worth $75 million or more to pull off.
While doable, the Packers would also have to consider how re-signing Rodgers to a record-setting contract would impact some of their other important decisions. All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams is less than a month away from becoming an unrestricted free agent and is looking to become the highest paid at his position, potentially earning as much as $30 million per year. It would be extremely difficult for the Packers to give both Rodgers and Adams the contracts they desire, and it would likely take big talent chunks out of other areas of their roster.
The Packers could still place a franchise tag on Adams and carry him into the 2022 season with a cap charge of about $20 million instead, but they would need to add that amount to their books before the start of the new league year on March 16. Even if Rodgers’ new contract created additional space, it would not be enough to offset it.
Other pending unrestricted free agents looking for new contracts from the Packers this offseason include: Robert Tonyan, De’Vondre Campbell, Rasul Douglas, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kevin King, Chandon Sullivan, Lucas Patrick, Tyler Lancaster, Corey Bojorquez, Oren Burks, Equanimeous St. Brown and Whitney Mercilus.
Too Early for Teams to Offer Packers Trade Packages
Russini also added that “multiple teams” aside from the Packers are eagerly awaiting Rodgers’ decision in hopes they might be able to make a trade for him this offseason. Teams such as the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers have been largely speculated as potential suitors for Rodgers, but other quarterback-needy teams would certainly join the fray if a back-to-back MVP were to be made available in the coming weeks.
At this point, though, none of the interested teams have discussed details or potential trade packages with the Packers — as doing so would be tampering under NFL rules.
“The Green Bay Packers, for what it’s worth, were not told from those teams what the compensation would be, what the package was would look like because that would be tampering,” Russini told Eisen. “They can’t call over to Green Bay yet, apparently because they need to have this conversation with Aaron. I’m not sure how the dealings have been going in terms of the contact and true communication, because you’ve got to figure something is there, but the teams that I’ve spoken to that want him have been working towards putting this together to make it work for Green Bay.”