As the NFL world awaits a decision from Aaron Rodgers on his 2022 plans, the Green Bay Packers are pushing all of their chips to the center of the table.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Packers have made a “significant, long-term contract offer” to Rodgers that would alter the league’s quarterback market. While the details of the offer were not disclosed in the report, Fowler estimated that a three- or four-year extension would be the most beneficial to both the team and Rodgers.
The Packers still have to free up about $30 million more in cap space before the new league year begins at 4 p.m. ET on March 16, but one of the most important steps in the process will be getting clarity from Rodgers. He has the largest cap number — by more than $19 million — on their books at the moment with a 2022 cap hit of roughly $46.66 million; however, a new deal could help alleviate some of that burden.
The Packers could also save money if Rodgers requests a trade or retires, potentially even more than an extension would offer, but nothing can happen until their veteran quarterback makes a choice about what he wants to do with his immediate future.
Previously, NFL insider Mike Silver reported Rodgers is “likely” to inform the Packers of his decision on Tuesday, March 8, which happens to be the deadline for NFL teams to place franchise or transition tags on players for the upcoming season. The Packers could use a franchise tag on Davante Adams to keep him from entering free agency and to give themselves longer to negotiate a true contract extension, but tagging him would add another $20.12 million to their challenging cap situation.
Either way, it could be a telling next few days for the future of the Packers.
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What Might Packers’ Contract Offer Look Like?
Predicting what Rodgers wants in a new contract isn’t the easiest task in the world. There have been multiple reports that he is looking to become the league’s new highest-paid quarterback with ESPN’s Dianna Russini claiming he is seeking $50 million per year on his next deal, but Pat McAfee also said he asked Rodgers about that $50 million price point and was told those reports are “categorically false.”
It is possible both things are true: that Rodgers doesn’t want to go as high as $50 million but still wants to be paid like the back-to-back NFL MVP that he is. That wouldn’t be bad news for the Packers, either, despite their limited cap space.
Maybe a new deal for Rodgers wouldn’t pay out as much as $50 million per year, but the Packers could still strike a new deal with him that both exceeds the average annual value of Patrick Mahomes’ record-setting contract ($45 million) and creates cap space for the upcoming season. It all depends on structure, both in terms of how long the contract is and how many void years are included.
Realistically, the Packers could accomplish both with a three-year extension worth about $140 million, likely with at least two void years. Rodgers would get a contract that secures him as their starting quarterback into his 40s, while the Packers could significantly reduce his current cap figure for the 2022 season.
Other Important Decisions Looming for Packers
Adams and Rodgers might be two of the biggest puzzle pieces for the Packers, but there are several other key players from their 2021 roster with their futures in flux.
NFL teams are just nine days away from the official start to 2022 free agency with negotiations allowed to begin in less than a week. That means the Packers are running out of time to exclusively negotiate with their 25 pending free agents, a group that — aside from Adams — includes starters such as All-Pro inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, tight end Robert Tonyan, cornerback Rasul Douglas, wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling and interior offensive lineman Lucas Patrick.
Allen Lazard will also be looking for a restricted free agent tender from the Packers. They could bring him back on a right of first refusal tender that Over the Cap estimates will cost about $2.433 million for the 2022 season, but it does leave the door open for other teams to poach him with zero returns for the team. It might instead make sense for them to spring for the second-round tender ($3.986 million), depending on what decisions they make with their other starting receivers due to hit free agency.
Additionally, the Packers have eight exclusive rights free agents to consider tendering: center Jake Hanson, inside linebacker Krys Barnes, offensive tackle Yosh Nijman, outside linebackers Randy Ramsey and Chauncey Rivers, safety Henry Black, tight end Dominique Dafney and wide receiver Malik Taylor.