Rodgers will be high­est-paid player

Quar­ter­back’s mas­sive deal could reach $180M

Packer Plus - - News - Tom Sil­ver­stein Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sen­tinel USA TO­DAY NET­WORK - WIS­CON­SIN

Green Bay — Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Pack­ers agreed on a four-year ex­ten­sion that will make the star quar­ter­back the high­est-paid player in NFL his­tory and keep him un­der con­tract un­til he is 40.

Rodgers told peo­ple in the Pack­ers or­ga­ni­za­tion that he was go­ing to let for­mer Pack­ers re­ceiver James Jones of NFL Net­work break the story on the con­tract agree­ment, and he was true to his word. Jones re­ported last week Wed­nes­day that the deal was worth a yearly av­er­age of $33.5 mil­lion in new money plus in­cen­tives.

Ac­cord­ing to Mike Jones of USA TO­DAY, Rodgers and the Pack­ers agreed on a four-year ex­ten­sion worth $134 mil­lion with a max­i­mum po­ten­tial of $180 mil­lion. The deal in­cludes $103 mil­lion guar­an­teed and $67 mil­lion be­fore the end of the cal­en­dar year.

The yearly av­er­age of $33.5 mil­lion vaults Rodgers over the $30 mil­lion mark, which At­lanta Fal­cons quar­ter­back Matt Ryan re­ceived on a five-year, $150 mil­lion ex­ten­sion he signed ear­lier this year, mak­ing him the high­est-paid player in the league.

Ryan’s deal eclipsed the $28 mil­lion per year Min­nesota gave quar­ter­back Kirk Cousins in a free-agent deal signed in March. All $84 mil­lion of Cousins’ con­tract was guar­an­teed.

Rodgers, 34, had two years left on a five-year, $110 mil­lion ex­ten­sion he signed in April of 2013 and the new agree­ment ex­tends that through the 2023 sea­son. He will turn 40 on Dec. 2, 2023, and has in­di­cated that he would like to play at least un­til he is 40.

The Pack­ers are go­ing to have to dig into their re­serve fund to de­liver the sign­ing bonus and other guar­an­teed money in­cluded in the con­tract. The most profit the Pack­ers have made in a year is $72.8 mil­lion in 2016-’17, but that was when they re­ceived $27.1 mil­lion in re­lo­ca­tion fees from the NFL.

This past year, the Pack­ers posted $38.6 mil­lion in net profit, which would not cover the en­tirety of Rodgers’ sign­ing bonus.

Be­cause the Pack­ers must put all guar­an­teed money not in­cluded in the sign­ing bonus in an escrow ac­count, it’s very likely they will have to draw from the re­serve fund, which has been re­ported to con­tain $380 mil­lion. If Rodgers does have $100 mil­lion in guar­an­tees, it won’t break them.

From a salary-cap stand­point, the struc­ture of the deal will mat­ter greatly.

The Pack­ers were $11 mil­lion un­der the cap prior to the Rodgers deal.

The $57.5 mil­lion sign­ing bonus can be pro-rated over the six re­main­ing years, which means $9.58 mil­lion will be part of ev­ery year of the deal.

Rodgers was car­ry­ing a salary-cap num­ber of $20.56 mil­lion this year and had a base salary of $19.8 mil­lion this year and $20 mil­lion next year. How­ever, the Pack­ers have dropped Rodgers’ base salary to $1.1 mil­lion, leav­ing the Pack­ers roughly $11 mil­lion un­der the cap.

Prior to this new deal, eight NFL quar­ter­backs ranked higher in av­er­age salary than Rodgers. Only two (New Or­leans’ Drew Brees and Bal­ti­more’s Joe Flacco) had won a Su­per Bowl as Rodgers did (Su­per Bowl XLV in the 2010 sea­son) and none had won an MVP award, let alone two, like Rodgers (2011 and ‘14).

The on­go­ing saga of Rodgers’ con­tract talks took on an­other twist in early June when NFL Net­work re­ported that Rodgers would like some sort of out clause in an ex­ten­sion that would al­low him to rene­go­ti­ate a new deal should he again be sur­passed as the NFL’s high­est­paid quar­ter­back.

An­other pos­si­ble stick­ing point could have been the ques­tion of a po­ten­tial

con­tract ex­ten­sion for Tom Brady. The New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back is in the sec­ond year of a $41 mil­lion con­tract and is con­sid­ered vastly un­der­paid. How­ever, the Pa­tri­ots prob­a­bly wouldn’t have signed Brady to a deal as long as Rodgers’ and the per-year av­er­age wouldn’t be as big a fac­tor.

Pack­ers gen­eral man­ager Brian Gutekunst said re­cently he thought Rodgers’ deal could get done soon.

“The per­cep­tion of when the deal was (pos­si­bly) get­ting done is prob­a­bly why peo­ple are anx­ious out­side of this build­ing,” Gutekunst told Pete Dougherty of Pack­er­sNews.com dur­ing a one-on-one in­ter­view in his Lam­beau Field of­fice. “In­side the build­ing it’s al­ways one of those things that’s taken its nor­mal course. Again, both sides want the same thing, so we’re all en­cour­aged that it’s mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion and we’re able to come to a con­clu­sion. From my per­cep­tion it’s not some­thing that’s dragged on longer than I thought it would. It’s just some­thing that’s taken its nor­mal course.”

Asked whether Rodgers should be the game’s high­est-paid player, Gutekunst said: “I think Aaron is one of the more unique play­ers that I’ve ever been around or seen. It’s a tough ques­tion, but I think he’s as de­serv­ing as any­body.”

Rodgers is look­ing to re­bound from an in­jury-marred 2016. He missed seven games after suf­fer­ing a bro­ken right col­lar­bone in a Week 6 loss at Min­nesota. Rodgers re­turned for one game (a loss at Carolina) be­fore be­ing shut down for the fi­nal two weeks.

On the sea­son, Rodgers threw for 1,675 yards and 16 touch­down with six in­ter­cep­tions for a passer rat­ing of 97.2.

Over his 13-year ca­reer, the 2005 first-round draft choice out of Cal­i­for­nia has com­pleted 3,188 of 4,895 passes (65.1 per­cent) for 38,502 yards, 313 touch­downs with 78 in­ter­cep­tions for an NFL-record reg­u­lar-sea­son passer rat­ing of 103.8.

Renowned for his mo­bil­ity and elu­sive­ness, Rodgers also has 525 ca­reer rush­ing at­tempts for 2,670 yards and 25 touch­downs.

After serv­ing as Brett Favre’s backup for three sea­sons, Rodgers took over as the Pack­ers’ starter in 2008. He was voted first-team All-Pro in 2011 and ’14 and has earned six Pro Bowl berths.

ADAM WES­LEY/USA TO­DAY NET­WORK-WIS­CON­SIN

Pack­ers quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers signed a four-year ex­ten­sion worth $134 mil­lion.

JEFF HANISCH / USA TO­DAY

Aaron Rodgers’ con­tract ex­ten­sion av­er­ages $33.5 mil­lion per sea­son. The new agree­ment ex­tends through the 2023 sea­son.

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