As we put the Super Bowl in our rear view mirror and the NFL offseason begins in earnest, we are still unsure what the future holds for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers could decide to return to the Packers in 2022 and negotiate an extension that would reduce his cap hit, he could decide to retire or he could demand to be traded to another team, something the Packers agreed to do if the reigning MVP still wanted to play elsewhere after he agreed to return in 2021.
Rodgers has indicated he would announce his decision shortly to be fair to the Packers and to any other team that may acquire him. It is widely expected Rodgers will let his decision be known before the start of free agency in March.
But during Super Bowl weekend, we learned something new about the Rodgers situation. The Packers made it public that they are willing to sign Rodgers to a new contract that would make him the highest paid quarterback in the NFL next season and that the team would once again be “all in” to get Rodgers to another Super Bowl if A-Rod agrees to return to Green Bay.
The report came from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network who indicated, “Assuming he stays, Rodgers will need a new deal for the 2022 season, and sources say the Packers are willing to offer him a deal that makes him the highest-paid QB in the NFL on a per-year basis — likely a two-year pact worth more than $45 million annually, with voidable years on the back end to make it work with the cap. That would also allow the team more flexibility to tag wide receiver Davante Adams, along with other offseason moves.”
Right now, the highest paid quarterback in the league (based on average compensation per season) is Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes who earns $45 million per season. Under his existing deal, Rodgers is scheduled to have a cap hit of approximately $47 million which is too much for the Packers. But if Rodgers signs say a two-year extension with three void years, the Packers could reduce his 2022 cap hit and free up money to keep the team in contention for another chance at a Super Bowl.
After being named the league’s MVP for the fourth time in his career last week, Rodgers indicated that his relationship with the Packers front office had gotten better since the 2020 NFL Draft when his unhappiness with the Green Bay front office became public knowledge. “I’ve had good conversations with Green Bay and I’ll do some contemplating and make a decision here pretty quick,” Rodgers told reporters on Thursday.
The fact that this “offer” and this strategy was leaked to the press is telling. When something like this is made public via a media source, it helps to think who wanted it out there and what purpose is it serving?
It would certainly be beneficial to the Packers front office and GM Brian Gutekunst to put that statement out there. It would help encourage Rodgers and let him know the team wants him back, although head coach Matt LaFleur has indicated that in his postseason press conferences and it is likely that Gutekunst and other members of the Packers front office have also said similar things to Rodgers during his meetings with team officials after the playoff loss to San Francisco.
By making it known to the public that the Packers are prepared to make Rodgers the highest paid quarterback in the NFL and to then go out and surround him with enough talent to make another run at the Super Bowl before the 38-year-old Chico, California, native retires, the front office in Green Bay is protecting themselves. This way, if Rodgers decides he wants to retire or demands a trade, Gutekunst, team president Mark Murphy and the rest of the Packers organization can tell the fans it wasn’t because the team refused to meet his demands. From a PR standpoint, the departure would be all on Rodgers and the Packers front office could say they did all they could.
Regardless of who leaked it out, the direction of the Packers offseason and the short-term future of the franchise will revolve around Rodgers’ decision. The next few weeks will likely determine whether or not the Green Bay Packers will be contenders again in 2022. It will certainly not be a boring time in Green Bay.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
Click here for more great Packers coverage
Visit my Web site for all things Gil Martin