PHOENIX - The Green Bay Packers could extend quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ contract as early as next offseason, but general manager Ted Thompson said the looming major expense has “not very much” influence on decisions this spring.
Rodgers has three years remaining on his contract, which runs through the end of 2019. He had two years left on his contract when he last signed his $110 million extension in 2013.
The Packers are financially prepared for a major extension. They have roughly $24 million in cap space after signing four free agents from other teams, the most Thompson has signed in one spring since his second offseason. They figure to roll a big chunk of that money — perhaps as much as $10 million — into 2018, which could be an optimal time to extend Rodgers.
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Thompson said he doesn’t believe there’s one exact time when it’s right to extend a franchise quarterback.
“I think every case is a little different,” Thompson told PackersNews.com. “Certainly, we’ve had an opportunity to get to know Aaron, and we know a lot about him. But at the same time, we never talk about our own players from a monetary sense.”
Earlier this month during an appearance on ESPN Wisconsin (540-AM), when asked whether the amount of money being talked about for unproven free-agent quarterbacks such as Mike Glennon should lead to talks about his contract, Rodgers said, "I think it has to."
President Mark Murphy said Sunday at the league’s owner meetings the Packers have “a plan” to extend Rodgers’ contract. He said Thompson and chief negotiator Russ Ball will determine the timing.
Thompson noted it’s not unusual for him to prepare for the future. The Packers regularly roll over ample cap space year to year, bringing almost $8 million into 2017.
“We’re always planning,” Thompson said. “The organization as a whole, and certainly myself, Russ Ball, are always planning for how the team is going to be structured. We don’t ever talk about individual players amongst that, but we’re always talking about the structure of the team.”
Rodgers isn’t the only potential extension that looms. Murphy mentioned receiver Davante Adams, who finished second in the NFL with 12 touchdowns last season and is entering a contract year. He also mentioned safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, although the Packers could exercise their fifth-year player option because he was a first-round draft pick in 2014.
Even as Thompson’s attention turns to next month’s draft, there are always players to sign and re-sign. Murphy said the Packers’ offseason process helps keep their salary cap prepared for any expenses that come next.
“I think we do it as well as anybody,” Murphy said. “I think Russ and Ted do an excellent job. You have to be able to anticipate. You can’t just look at this year, you have to have a plan over a two- or three-year period, who are our core players we need to sign. You want to have money available for those signings, not just this year.”