Packers approached Aaron Rodgers about restructuring his contract in January
NFL general managers face difficult decisions in the coming weeks as the new league year officially begins and free agency gets underway.
While that’s usually a time for money to be thrown around like Fat Joe and Lil Wayne making it rain, things in 2021 will be very different. Due to financial losses brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL salary cap will drop for the first time since its inception in 1994.
There is some potential for the floor to be raised above $180.5 million should the league agree to a new television deal, but even then, more than half the teams will find themselves in some sort of financial trouble. Accordingly, there will be a slew of restructures, extensions, pay cuts and releases.
For the Green Bay Packers, they will need to clear more than $11 million in space to reach the projected cap floor, which is why they restructured the contract of All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari. It’s also why they approached quarterback Aaron Rodgers about a contract restructure in late January, reports Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal.
According to a source, the team approached Rodgers around the time of the team’s Jan. 24 season-ending loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game about altering his contract to free up cap space. After that game, Rodgers notably mused about his own uncertain future with the team, and multiple sources said at the time Rodgers was merely seeking a longer-term commitment to him as the quarterback in the wake of last year’s first-round selection of Jordan Love in the NFL draft.
Around that time, Rodgers was a bit cryptic about his future in Green Bay, implying that his status in 2021 and beyond was uncertain and that he’d have to take some times to figure things out.
Rodgers later walked back those comments, but it’s now clear they stemmed from being approached about a possible restructure. And that, of course, came on the heels of Green Bay essentially drafting his successor, Jordan Love, in the 2020 NFL draft, which also didn’t sit well with the three-time NFL MVP.
The 37-year-old Rodgers still has two years and $50 million left on his current deal. Including signing bonuses and other built-in bonuses, he’ll account for a cap hit of $39.85 million in 2021 and $28.35 in 2022. By releasing Rodgers this season, the Packers would absorb a dead cap hit of $17.204 million. It becomes much more manageable next year.
As things sit, there’s no way the Packers can afford the dead cap hit or Rodgers’ current salary. He wants an extension, they want a restructure. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays itself out in the coming weeks.