I just read where one of the big-time sports sites listed one of the Green Bay Packers’ top priorities for 2018 as extending Aaron Rodgers’ contract. I don’t think it will happen.
Why? Because Rodgers is smart, because he seems to like money as much as the next guy, and because he’s lost out before when he agreed to such an extension.
Back in 2013, Rodgers signed a five-year, $110 million deal that made him the highest-paid player in the NFL on an annual basis. That deal doesn’t run out until the end of the 2019 season.
In March of 2017, ESPN ran an article headlined “Aaron Rodgers is a victim of the NFL salary system…”. What they proceeded to describe is how the escalation in quarterback salaries has rendered Rodgers vastly underpaid. When that article was written, Rodgers – who is averaging $22 million per year, had already slipped down to the fifth-highest paid NFL quarterback – behind Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, and Joe Flacco. Luck’s contract averages $24.6 million. It’s less than a year later, and all these quarterbacks already look like “victims.”
The current list of highest-paid NFL quarterbacks has a new top three: Jimmy Garoppolo, at an average of $27.5M; Matthew Stafford, at $27M; and Derek Carr, at $25M. Alex Smith, just traded to the Redskins – and a Rodgers’ rival of sorts going back to the 2005 draft – has also just moved ahead of Rodgers.
Jimmy G, backup to Tom Brady, has started seven games in his four-year career. Derek Carr has started all but two games in his four-year career with the Raiders. His win-loss record is 28-34. He’s never made first- or second-team All-Pro. His career passer rating is 87.9. Packers fans are familiar with Matt Stafford. He’s a fine passer, though he has never been named All-Pro in his nine years in the league. His career win-loss record as a starter is 60-65. This is crazy.
So, why would Aaron Rodgers extend his contract now, when he could be paid way down the road at 2017-18 prices?
The current top three players will soon be overwhelmed by a tsunami of new contracts. Kirk Cousins will hit the open market in a couple of weeks – the media is calling it the “Kirk Cousins sweepstakes” and Kirk will surely be going to a new team, as the Redskins just signed Alex Smith to be their new starter.
ESPN had five of their NFL analysts predict how the sweepstakes will go. Here’s what they think the offers will be: Browns, $33M average annual salary; Jets, $30M; Cardinals, $30M; Bills, $29.2M; Broncos, $29M; Vikings, $28M; Jaguars, $28M. ESPN predicts the winner will be the Jags, based mostly on the likelihood of winning right away, as well as Florida not having a state income tax.
Yes, the Vikings, who already have three highly-touted throwers, are said to be interested in acquiring Cousins. Cousins has a win-loss-tie record of 26-30-1. Crazy!
While Cousins is getting most of the ink, there’s another guy who is slated to become a free agent in less than three weeks. You’ve heard of Drew Brees?
Brees has already indicated that he will be a Saints player for life, so he’s unlikely to be going anywhere. His reason for delaying in reaching a contract is the same reason Aaron Rodgers should do so: to establish his worth on the open market.
Unlike these other QBs, Brees has a pretty fair resume: 140-102 win-loss totals, a career rating of 96.7, four times an All-Pro, 11 Pro Bowl invites, seven times the NFL passing leader – and he had a great year in 2017 – including in the playoffs.
Brees might sign papers prior to the March 14 opening of free agency, or he might test the market by waiting to see what other teams might offer. I’m sure Rodgers will be keeping track of the goings-on.
The next quarterback set to enter the big-money sweepstakes, along with Rodgers in 2019, is the Falcons’ Matt Ryan. In 2020, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, and Tom Brady are up for contract renewal, and Cam Newton has to wait until 2021.
Strap yourselves up, it’s going to be a wild ride.