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GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said in February he wanted to sign quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a contract extension as soon as possible.
That time might be getting closer.
A big hurdle was cleared Thursday when Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan agreed to a contract extension. ESPN reported that Ryan agreed to a five-year extension worth approximately $150 million, including $100 million in guarantees.
The Packers and Rodgers want the imminent extension to feature the largest per-year average in the NFL since Rodgers is considered one of the top quarterbacks, arguably second only to New England’s Tom Brady, who was the league MVP last season and led the Patriots to their eighth Super Bowl appearance since 2002.
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If Rodgers had signed his deal first, it’s possible Ryan’s would have surpassed his NFC counterpart. So, without facing an immediate deadline – Rodgers is under contract through 2019 – the two sides waited for the Falcons to make the first move.
In an interview Tuesday with ProFootballTalk Live, Gutekunst acknowledged he wanted to study how other quarterback deals were being structured, especially after Minnesota signed free agent Kirk Cousins to a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million contract in March.
The Packers do not want to give Rodgers a fully guaranteed deal and probably were hoping Ryan didn’t receive one. If the report on his salary figures are true, then the Packers can make a case that a more traditional structure is in order, one that features a sizable percentage of guaranteed money paid in signing and roster bonuses.
Gutekunst said Rodgers’ deal could get done soon.
“We’re pretty confident that this is something that’s taking its normal course, its normal time,” Gutekunst told PFT Live.
Another consideration could be a Brady contract extension. He is in the second year of a $41 million contract and is considered vastly underpaid. However, the Patriots probably wouldn’t sign Brady to a deal as long as Rodgers’ and the per-year average wouldn’t be as big a factor.
Rodgers is entering the fourth year of a five-year, $110 million contract extension he signed April 26, 2013.
He is scheduled to make a base salary of $19.8 million this year and $20 million in 2019. He has per-game roster bonuses each year worth a maximum of $600,000 and workout bonuses of $500,000.
His salary-cap number for 2018 is $20.9 million. The Packers can structure the deal so that Rodgers’ cap number goes up or down. They have just over $16 million in cap space, which is plenty for signing their draft picks and any veteran free agents they might seek.
They are expected to have more than $50 million in cap space next year, so they may choose to push some of the cap charge forward a year.