Earlier in the offseason, the Green Bay Packers announced that they had paid out Aaron Rodgers‘ $6.8 million roster bonus, freeing up some cap space, but not the entire amount possible if his $14.6 million base salary had been converted into a signing bonus for the 2021 season. Some details on how those types of moves work from NFL insider Albert Breer unlocked an “epiphany” on the entire situation in Green Bay for NFL Network’s Rich Eisen.
Eisen, like many, had been working under the assumption that a contract move like that had to be agreed upon by both Rodgers and the team. That is not the case, according to Breer. He says that the Packers could have paid him out in a signing bonus without his permission, to open up cap room.
Instead, the Packers took a middle road, opened up a few million with the roster bonus, and reports came out that Rodgers wasn’t willing to restructure his existing deal. He instead reportedly wants a contract that shows a renewed commitment from the Packers, though it is unclear what can really salvage the situation now. That bit of information has Eisen totally on Rodgers’ side in this whole thing. He’s pretty shocked that the Packers seem completely unwilling to mortgage the future at all, to try and win with Rodgers right now, and he thinks this has been a more long term issue for the team, which has two Super Bowls during the three decades it has had either Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers under center.
“Albert from the MMQB said that the Packers, at any point—they don’t even need Aaron’s permission—they could convert salary into signing bonus on the spot. And thus utilize the cap space. But what that does is it pushes more cap ramifications down the road.”
Eisen then got into Rodgers’ head a bit, and compared the situation in Green Bay—a franchise that doesn’t seem to be willing to risk some salary cap issues in the future to field a championship team today—and the one in Tampa Bay, where the Super Bowl champions have gotten extremely creative in keeping basically every major contributor in place to make a run at another title.
“‘You’re not willing to mortgage your future past me to win now with me… You don’t even need my permission. But instead it gets out that I didn’t restructure a contract.’ You think that would piss off Aaron Rodgers? Certainly if he’s seen what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to do. Albert just pointed out, Lavonte David‘s deal, Ndamukong Suh‘s deal, Tom Brady‘s deal are all what Aaron wants to have done to keep his band together. Do you think he’s pissed that Corey Linsley wound up somewhere else?”
“How about just doing what other teams are doing? And you don’t want to mortgage your balance sheet? Really, you’re worried about putting more debt when I’m not here? … It’s gotten you one Super Bowl appearance and win with me, two Super Bowl appearances and one win with Favre. That’s it. Titletown my ass, if this is the way you’re going to be.”
Whether this is truly a 30-year issue for the Green Bay Packers or just a more recent one with Aaron Rodgers over the last few years, it doesn’t seem like the team is doing everything in its power to contend now, and for the 37-year old quarterback, who just saw Tampa Bay bend over backwards to make Tom Brady, a new player to the franchise, happy, that has to sting. It is hard to blame him for not being content.