Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers answers questions from the media after the announcement of his contract extension Friday in the locker room at Lambeau Field. Lukas Keapproth/Press Gazette Media
The Green Bay Packers got off cheap.
It sounds crazy for a team that will pay quarterback Aaron Rodgers $40 million this year and $110 million over a five-year span from 2015 through 2019. But the Packers got a major break when Rodgers agreed to accept less money than he was worth.
Don’t feel sorry for Rodgers, who with his shiny new contract became one of the highest paid players in NFL history on Friday.
But if he wanted to push things, Rodgers could have easily squeezed close to $25 million per year out of the Packers. Instead, he accepted less than that, which should leave the Packers with enough spending money to address other needs in the coming years.
Rodgers said it was important that his negotiations with the Packers never became contentious, and he gave credit to the team for that.
“I think it was natural in this situation because there’s a very good relationship there and it was really the Packers wanting to make this happen,” said Rodgers, standing in the middle of the locker room on Friday afternoon surrounded by a swarm of media members.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints struggled mightily to forge a deal last July. The Saints allowed Brees’ contract to expire, and there were some hard feelings during a tough negotiation process. By comparison, Rodgers and the Packers come off looking like bosom buddies.
“This was different in the fact that there was two years left on my deal, so they had to want to make this happen,” said Rodgers of the Packers. “It didn’t matter where we were at or what ideas we had, it had to be the Packers being on board with this, and for that I thank them. It’s exciting knowing I’ll have the opportunity to finish my career here and be a Packer for life.”
The Packers could have waited at least another year before addressing Rodgers’ contract, but his price tag was only going to rise. The Packers had the foresight to address the issue sooner rather than later.
The Packers struck the delicate balance between keeping Rodgers happy while not breaking the bank in the process.
Rodgers in effect gave the Packers a hometown discount. While the five-year extension will pay Rodgers an NFL record $22 million per year, he was already under contract for 2013 and 2014, and thus his average compensation over the seven-year life of the deal is $18.6 million.
That’s not chump change by any means, and Rodgers will never go hungry. But it’s a relatively modest average salary for the best quarterback in the NFL.
It’s a credit to Rodgers that he wasn’t determined to squeeze every last penny out of the Packers.
Part of that stems from Rodgers’ appreciation the Packers put their faith in him on more than one occasion.
They drafted him in the first round in 2005, had his back during the Brett Favre controversy in the summer of 2008, then gave him a new contract later that same year just seven games into his starting tenure.
So maybe Rodgers felt compelled to show the Packers a little loyalty in return and not ask for the moon.
“It’s kind of ironic eight years ago, the Packers took a chance on me this weekend,” said Rodgers, “took a chance on me again in 2008 after seven games and I’m excited to know my future is here and I’ll be here for a lot longer.”
Rodgers said he could see himself playing at least eight more seasons. That means the Packers will have one of the best players in the league for the forseeable future and can take the extra money they saved on Rodgers’ contract and improve the roster around him.
“I think the deal is one that we’re both happy with and I trust that Ted (Thompson) and Russ (Ball) and those guys and their ability to bring in players and make this team very competitive,” said Rodgers.
With Rodgers locked up through 2019, the Packers will remain not just competitive but in perpetual Super Bowl contention.
To put it another way, the Packers got a bargain for what they’re paying Rodgers.
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