When Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers signed his current contract in 2013, the new-money average of $22 million per year made him the highest paid player in football. Now, he’s sliding farther and farther down the list.
The bar has recently moved to $30 million per year, and the Packers have opened camp without Rodgers receiving an adjustment to a contract that has two years remaining on it. Meeting with reporters on Thursday, Rodgers fielded numerous questions the situation, and it’s clear that he doesn’t regard the current situation as ideal.
While Rodgers has yet to complain about his contract, he repeatedly said that getting a new deal is “important to me.” He seems to be disappointed that it hasn’t happened yet.
“I think they’ve talked about it enough that there’s an expectation that something would have been done — obviously judging by the questions here there’s an expectation something would have been done before we started [training camp],” Rodgers said.
Rodgers added that “[t]here’s more than mutual interest on both sides” to get a deal done. So why hasn’t it gotten done?
No one asked him that specific question on Thursday. In the recent past, he’s hinted at a creative structure (a “non-traditional contractual agreement”) that would give him “some more freedom.” But the team has no obligation to give him any freedom. They have two years left under his contract (at a total payout of $39.8 million), and they can easily tag him for the two years after that. While the specific numbers for the 2020 and 2021 franchise tenders aren’t yet known, the Packers most likely would be able to keep Rodgers for four more years at a total payout of less than $100 million.
That’s an average of less than $25 million per year. So why would the Packers swap that right — a right Rodgers gave them in 2013 — for a contract that pays him more than $30 million, that includes “non-traditional” terms, and that provides him with the kind of freedom and flexibility he doesn’t currently have?
That’s likely why the deal hasn’t been done. Rodgers wants more than what the Packers are willing to pay, given that they can instead do nothing and have him under contract for four more years, at an average more than $5 million per year below market value.
So what can Rodgers do about it? Not much. As to the possibility of holding out, Rodgers said he doesn’t “operate that way.”
That’s his prerogative, but it’s becoming more and more clear that the Packers aren’t going to deviate from the four-year, less-than-$100 million formula simply because Rodgers’ agent has asked nicely that they do so. Until Rodgers is willing and able to find a way to put pressure on the Packers, the Packers will be feeling no pressure to break the bank when they don’t have to.