The Green Bay Packers have arguably the best quarterback in the NFL with Aaron Rodgers. Some would say Tom Brady holds that title and it would be hard to argue against that point—but not impossible. But next to Brady, the general perception is that Rodgers does not have a peer. If that is indeed true, then how come he is not the highest paid quarterback in the NFL?
Under his current contract, which he signed in 2013, he is averaging $22 million a season. That currently has him slated at No. 10 on the QB money list with guys like Derek Carr, Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, and Jimmy Garoppolo making more than him.
The pay disparity is not hard to explain. When Rodgers signed a contract extension in 2013, he was the highest paid player in the league. Since then, with the economy of the NFL being what it is, several guys were able to pass him. It’s not necessarily because they are better, but because it requires more to keep a good quarterback now than it did then.
Basically, what you can do is chalk it up to inflation.
Using that line of thinking, that means Rodgers is going to cash in when he signs his next extension. Even though he has two years left on his current contract, the Packers and Rodgers are expected to sign a new one by training camp. Now that Matt Ryan is making $30 million a season, that is likely where negotiations started.
It’s just a matter of how much more—or is it?
Rumor has it that it may not be as much about the money as it is about the control. Rodgers wants to do like NBA players often do. He wants to have the option to stay under his current contract or cut loose and reopen negotiations.
Supposedly, it is so his salary can’t get leapfrogged by a bunch of lesser quarterbacks like his current salary has.
In 2020, when Rodgers is scheduled to become a free agent, there are a number of marquee names scheduled to become free agents as well (Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, and Tom Brady). No one would argue with any of those guys getting paid appropriately but, most of them will likely retire by then.
However, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, and Case Keenum will be free agents as well. While each has played well, even if their career trajectory continues to point up, do they belong in the same conversation salary-wise as Rodgers? Of course not! But chances are they will be somewhere in the vicinity.
If what the rumor mill is saying is true, he wants the clause to remain where it should be. He wants to remain among the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL. But what if he decided he wanted out, instead?
The Green Bay Packers have been in the playoffs in recent years because of him. They’ve had a terrible running game and the defense has been lacking as well. With both aspects suffering, they have been good enough to compete, but not good enough to win it all.
Would anyone blame Rodgers if he decides he’s done waiting for a better roster? Maybe he decides to jump ship and sign with a team that is a quarterback short of being a contender. Whoever it is will pay him well, though probably not as well as the Packers. But he’d have a shot at winning another Super Bowl.
Rodgers ranks No. 8 in career earnings among active quarterbacks with $137.1 million. He’ll make $19.8 million this coming season and $20 million in 2019. At that point, what is going to be more important to Rodgers, making the most money possible or winning a Super Bowl?
If Rodgers signs a standard five-year extension for an insane amount of money, he’ll essentially be with the Green Bay Packers for the rest of his career (or until he’s 41). He will be in a Packers uniform from the beginning of his career until the end, whether he wants to be or not. He will not have any control over his football future. But he will make more money, a lot more money.
However, if he were to succeed in getting the Packers to include an opt-out clause in his extension, he can retain some semblance of freedom. If he wants to opt-out for more money, he can. If he wants to do it in order to escape Green Bay, he can do that, too. Which is why the Packers will probably never give him the clause.
Why would they? They have him under contract for the next two years. If he refuses to sign an extension, they’ll franchise tag him for two years and still pay him a boatload of money.
At that point, he’ll be 38-years old. If the Packers decide they don’t want him anymore at that point, someone will sign him. But if there aren’t any potential contenders looking for quarterbacks, will he sign with just anyone or retire?
Of course, the Packers could just trust him and give him the clause he wants. But as Bob Sugar said, “It’s not ‘show friends.’ It’s ‘show business.’”