Aaron Rodgers still has a week before he is required to report to the Green Bay Packers for mandatory minicamp, but the three-time NFL MVP quarterback has already cost himself half a million dollars for the 2021 season.
Rodgers was not present for the start of the Packers’ voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) on May 24 and, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, did not participate in the first two phases of the team’s offseason workout program, disqualifying him from earning the $500,000 workout bonus in his current contract.
The Packers have a longstanding practice of building workout bonuses into their veterans’ contracts in order to incentivize them to spend their offseasons in Green Bay rather than avoiding work that is officially considered optional. In order to claim his bonus, Rodgers would have needed to participate in 85% of the Packers’ offseason activities in 2021 and has already far exceeded his allotted absences.
The Packers will begin their three-day mandatory minicamp on June 8 and can subject Rodgers to more than $95,000 in fines if he misses the entire event.
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Rodgers’ Missed Bonus Helps Packers in 2022
The Packers can’t be thrilled about the thought of possibly having to go through mandatory team activities without Rodgers. After spending the majority of the past year carefully working around the limitations of a reduced NFL salary cap and ensuring their roster is ready to compete for a Super Bowl in 2021, Rodgers has “thrown a wrench” into the Packers’ plans and could force them to decide now whether he or 2020 first-rounder Jordan Love is their future at quarterback.
There is money to be saved, however, if Rodgers continues to stay away.
According to independent cap specialist Ken Ingalls, the Packers will receive a $500,000 credit toward their salary cap in 2022 for Rodgers’ missed workout bonus, even though the number will still count against them in 2021. The Packers could also receive more kickbacks if Rodgers does not show up for training camp; though, Ingalls was clear the Packers would have to “choose” to go after Rodgers’ signing bonus and roster bonus to gain additional cap credits in 2022.
The Packers are already more than $29 million over the salary-cap ceiling of $208.2 million for 2022, according to figures from Over the Cap.
Training Camp Becomes Key Decision Date
Technically, the window is about to open for the Packers to start legitimately considering trade offers for Rodgers. Once June 1 passes, the dead-cap cost of moving on from him drops from $38.356 million to $21.152 million, making it financially withstandable for them to deal away their franchise quarterback if he refuses to return to the team and gives them few other options.
Green Bay has not budged on the matter, though. According to Matt Schneidman of The Athletic, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is “holding firm” on the team’s stance not to trade away Rodgers and seems prepared to call his bluff (i.e. watch and wait to see whether Rodgers actually refuses to report for mandated team activities, particularly when the team begins its training camp in late July).
Considering Rodgers has already walked away from a $500,000 workout bonus, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him skip next week’s three-day minicamp and cost himself nearly another $100,000 in fines, but training camp will be another story. Under the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement, Rodgers would be subject to a mandatory $50,000 fine for each day he misses during training camp with no options for the Packers to forgive the fines if he eventually reports.