Recently, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com took a comprehensive look at the issues surrounding the relationship between the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While much of the article consists of opinions from an anonymous agent, scout, and executive, there’s an important piece of anonymously-supplied news.
The agent suggested that the Packers are refraining from making free-agent moves until something is done with Rodgers’ contract.
“They’ve called me about one of my players and said, ‘Hey, this is where we are now, and until we get something big done — hint, hint — we don’t have any space,'” the unnamed agent told Demovsky.
The Packers could easily create significant cap space by converting a large chunk of Rodgers’ $14.7 million base salary to a signing bonus. PFT has obtained the relevant contractual language; the Packers have the absolute right to make such conversions with or without the player’s blessing.
The problem for the Packers comes from the reality that creating cap space now will push cap dollars into 2022, making it harder to trade him before June 1 of next year. That’s why Rodgers should actually want a full and complete restructuring. It would as a practical matter tie player and team together for two more years. Currently, the Packers are able to proceed on a year-to-year basis.
The decision to be made at the top of the organization is simple. Do the Packers want to preserve the ability to move Rodgers and elevate Jordan Love in 2022, or are they willing to proceed with Rodgers for 2021 and 2022 — regardless of whether he slips at all in 2021?
CEO Mark Murphy seems to realize the value of keeping Rodgers in a sweet spot of pissed off, mad enough to be highly motivated to perform at a high level but not so mad that he wants out. Murphy therefore seems to be willing to proceed with a contract that keeps Rodgers on a year-to-year arrangement.
There’s a clear risk inherent to that approach. If Rodgers has another MVP-quality year, he could make his push for a new team in early 2022. If that allows the Packers to sell the remainder of Rodgers’ contract for a significant haul of draft picks before the inevitable slide arrives and then shift to Love, that could be exactly what Murphy is hoping to achieve.
Regardless, the choices for the Packers are simple: current contract and a year-to-year relationship or new contract that makes it clear that Rodgers will play and Love will sit through 2022, if not longer. Rodgers surely prefers the latter. This could be the last year that he tolerates the former.