We’ve finally got details on Aaron Rodgers‘ massive extension with the Green Bay Packers. Last week, it was reported Rodgers would return to the Packers with a big new four-year deal worth $200 million. Pat McAfee, first on the report of Rodgers’ return, trumpeted all over the sports media globe that those reports were incorrect. On Tuesday, we learned that to be technically true as Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero told everybody this morning that the MVP’s new deal was actually three years and worth $150 million.
That’s basically what it is, anyway. There are a lot of insane details with Rodgers’ contract that are difficult to understand. The Packers borrowed from the Saints’ book of salary cap tricks to give Rodgers a huge raise while also, somehow, cutting his cap hit in half for the 2022 offseason. They have void years and a bunch of fake money getting pushed around and something called “large option guarantees.” All we really need to know is that Green Bay will give Rodgers $150 million to ensure he stays with the team for the foreseeable future and then manipulated the language of the agreement so that it didn’t destroy the team’s chances to sign any free agents this year.
There is one important detail, though, that is relatively simple to understand. It’s also puzzling. Puzzling that the team would agree to include this detail. Pelissero noted that Rodgers’ new contract includes an obscenely large dead cap hit if Rodgers retires or the Packers get rid of him after the 2023 season.
Maybe the Packers did not have any choice and had to include this penalty. No team can sign a player to this big of a deal without a gargantuan dead cap hit somewhere. But we’ve learned over the last few seasons that teams can put the dead money wherever they want, so it remains confusing why the Packers would do this.
After the 2023 season seems like the natural time for Rodgers to retire, doesn’t it? He’ll be 40 years-old. He’s seriously considered retirement for two consecutive offseasons now, which indicates he doesn’t have Tom Brady‘s drive to play until he’s 45 or older. Rodgers has now won two consecutive MVPs but still faces intense criticism over his playoff failures. If we were projecting a timeline, giving football another two seasons and then walking away seems likely, does it not?
Again, maybe the Packers didn’t have a choice. Maybe Rodgers demanded it be that season as insurance Green Bay wouldn’t try to pull the rug out from underneath him and send him out of town early. And there is a chance Rodgers could restructure his contract before retiring to ensure his dead cap gets spread out in the same way Drew Brees did for the Saints last year. But Rodgers’ goodwill towards the Packers organization does not extend nearly as far as Brees’ did for the Saints.
Regardless of how it got there, that dead cap hit is a poison pill for the Packers. Rodgers could retire that offseason and completely screw Green Bay. There would be nothing they could do about it. The Packers, in many ways, are at the mercy of their star quarterback yet again.