The Green Bay Packers have now officially signed a contract extension with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The deal comes to more than $150.8 million over the next three seasons and breaks down to $42 million in 2022, $59.515 million in 2023 and $49.3 million in 2024 with the first two years guaranteed as reported by Tom Pelissero.
The contract technically runs through 2026 but that includes void years which help to make the initial cap hit easier to swallow.
Packers GM Brian Gutekunst released a statement after the contract was made official saying, “We are very pleased to be able to come to an agreement with Aaron that keeps him in Green Bay. His play on the field and leadership in our locker room remain vital in our pursuit of another Super Bowl title. The agreement also allows us to maintain and enhance what we feel is already a very competitive roster.”
Here is what we learned from the new deal that Rodgers has signed and what it means for the Packers this season:
- The Packers Get Short-Term Cap Relief
Before this new extension was signed, Rodgers was going to count more than $46.6 million against the cap this season. Now, that number is reduced by roughly $18 million to $28.5 million. In 2023, the cap hit will be $31.6 million and in 2024, if Rodgers plays, it will be $40.7 million.
The Packers desperately needed the short-term help since they were still well above the cap ceiling before the deal was signed, especially after they re-signed LB De’Vondre Campbell and gave WR Allen Lazard a second-round tender offer.
- The Packers Still Have More Moves to Make
The Packers are still over the salary cap by approximately $8 million as of Tuesday evening. They have several ways to get under the cap by the deadline which is 4 PM ET Wednesday afternoon. That may include either releasing or restructuring Randall Cobb, extending Jaire Alexander, signing Davante Adams to a new, long-term deal or extending Adrian Amos.
If Gutekunst can re-sign CB Rasul Douglas before the start of the new league year on Wednesday, the Packers will have to clear up some more cap space to account for that contract as well.
At some point before the deadline, the Packers will have to make some more moves to get under the cap, but after the Rodgers extension, it’s a much more manageable number than it was.
- Rodgers Is the Highest Paid Player
Rodgers said it wasn’t about the money, but the new deal does make him as the highest paid player in the NFL. The reigning two-time MVP certainly has earned it, but the annual amount of roughly $50 million, as reported a week ago when Rodgers announced he was returning, is roughly correct. The length of the deal was off by a year.
Rodgers will now almost certainly finish his NFL career in Green Bay whether that career concludes after the 2022, 2023 or 2024 season. If it goes beyond that, a new extension will have to be negotiated with the star quarterback. That also means that barring injury, Jordan Love won’t be the Packers starter until Rodgers decides to retire. Love presently has two seasons left on his entry-level contract.
- Davante Adams Becomes the Next Priority
With Rodgers signed and returning and Campbell staying as well, the next priority for the Packers becomes signing a new deal with Adams.
The All Pro wide receiver has reportedly told the Packers he won’t play on the franchise tag in 2022 so the team has until July 15 to either sign him to a new long-term contract that will make him the highest-paid receiver in the game or work out a trade.
The other alternative is that Adams sits out the season which would be a lose-lose for both the Packers and Tae.
The fact that Rodgers is back with the Packers should help the team a bit in the negotiations with Adams but this is mostly about the money. Adams knows this is his last chance to sign a long-term deal while he is at the top of the market.
It won’t be easy, but I still expect the Packers and Adams to get a deal done before the mid-July deadline.
- The Packers Will Pay the Piper Down the Road
Bringing back Rodgers on this new deal almost guarantees that the Packers will be contenders again in 2022. Gutekunst is all in for this year and next year for the Packers to win a second Super Bowl under Rodgers, but this is really an all or nothing type situation.
Like any time you buy now and pay later, the bill eventually comes due. Once Rodgers retires, the Packers will have a huge dead cap hit depending on when he decides to hang up his cleats.
According to Tom Silverstein, the dead cap hit at the end of Rodgers’ contract could be as high as $75 million. Once Rodgers leaves, the Packers will be in a full rebuild and the team will likely have to endure some lean seasons.
If they win a Super Bowl, it will be worth it, but if not…
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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