Last month LeBron James, the best player in the NBA, left the Cavaliers and signed a four-year deal with the Lakers that will pay him $38.5 million a year. This week Aaron Rodgers, arguably the best player in the NFL, re-signed with the Packers on a six-year deal that will pay him $29 million a year.
Why can’t the top player in the NFL make the kind of money the top player in the NBA can? There are many reasons, but Rodgers said a big one is that NFL players just don’t have the same kind of leverage as NBA players.
Although Rodgers had been hoping to get a contract that would allow him to opt out or tie his salary to a percentage of the salary cap, he said that kind of deal doesn’t happen in the NFL.
“I don’t think the NFL is ready for those type of contracts,” he said. “There’s language that need to change for those to become more standard, but there just isn’t the movement in that area on franchise side to do contract that allow players to have more of the leverage that NBA players have. Instead they would rather go traditional routes with large signing bonuses and prorate that over 5 years in order to minimize cap hits. That’s the desired approach and there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room in that area.”
Perhaps if Rodgers had held out and told the Packers, “Give me the contract I want or I’m retiring,” he could have persuaded the Packers to give him the kind of contract terms that NFL players previously haven’t been able to receive. But Rodgers played ball with the Packers, and signed on to play ball for the Packers for six more years.