The recent non-news news that the Packers offered quarterback Aaron Rodgers a five-year contract that would make him the highest-paid player in football omitted (as did the original reporting on the topic) key information regarding guarantees and structure. Rodgers wants to be paid in a way that breaks the team’s current one-year-at-a-time flexibility as to whether it will keep him around. The offer the team made presumably doesn’t do that; if it did, whoever leaked the information about the total average would have included some facts about the structure.
So what does (or at least did) Rodgers specifically want? To get a true commitment that prevents the team from releasing him or trading him after 2021 or 2022, he needs a lot. So much that the team wouldn’t be able to move on without blowing up its salary cap.
Per a league source, it’s believed by at least one team that has (or had) interest in Rodgers that he wants $90 million guaranteed over two years. That would get him to the Patricks Mahomes $45 million high-water mark. With the $45 million average applying to only the first two years and with all of it guaranteed, the structure necessary to pay that kind of money would as a practical matter tie Green Bay’s hands through 2022 and potentially into 2023.
Although some have said it’s not about the money, the money becomes a way to fix a problem that former teammates continue to call fixable. By giving Rodgers the kind of contract that gives the Packers no choice but to (1) keep Rodgers, and (2) keep Jordan Love on the bench, the team necessarily resets the clock to pre-2020 draft, before the moment that the team clumsily traded up to get Love without telling first Rodgers. (Telling him first probably wouldn’t have made it much better.)
That gesture told Rodgers in one fell swoop that he’s no longer untouchable. This gesture — a $90 million guarantee over two years — would reinstate his untouchable status, for several seasons.
The fact that the team hasn’t given him that kind of offer yet strongly suggests that the team won’t be doing so. Which further sets the stage for whatever is going to happen this week, when the Packers report for training camp.