Done deal: Aaron Rodgers gets his record-setting contract — worth up to $180 million
GREEN BAY — Now, Aaron Rodgers can do what he promised he would: Focus on his legacy and finishing his career with the Green Bay Packers.
The quarterback agreed to terms on a four-year contract extension Wednesday, an NFL source confirmed. ESPN broke the news, along with the NFL Network’s James Jones, Rodgers’ former teammate with the Packers.
“Looking forward to making some more memorable moments this year, and for years to come,” Rodgers posted on an Instagram in a thank you message to the organization, teammates and fans.
Five minutes after thanking fans on Instagram, he posted another message that included a photo of him in a denim tux jacket that was a replica of one worn by actor Bing Crosby in 1951. Rodgers donned the outfit on Wednesday for the annual Packers Welcome Back Luncheon at Lambeau Field.
“Lastly, thanks to genetics that allow me to grow a mustache that even a hero of mine, (actor) Sam Elliott, might be proud of,” Rodgers wrote.
ESPN reported that the deal is worth $134 million and could be worth up to $180 million in total money. It includes $103 million in guarantees, and the four years that were added to Rodgers’ existing deal average $33.5 million, the most of any player in NFL history.
The 34-year-old Rodgers, who had two years left on the five-year, $110 million extension he signed in April 2013, will receive $67 million before the end of the 2018 calendar year and will receive another $13 million before March 17, 2019, ESPN reported.
The four additional years are on top of the existing two years on Rodgers’ deal, meaning the extension ties him to the Packers through the 2023 season, during which Rodgers would turn 40.
“Obviously, (the contract) is important to me. Obviously, I’d love to finish my career here,” Rodgers said in an ESPN Wisconsin interview earlier this month. “But I’m busy right now. I’m being a leader on this team. I’m focused on being the leader of the team. And if nothing gets done, it won’t change anything. Because all I’m worried about right now is playing ball.
“If something does get done, it’s fantastic. It’s great. Then I’d think about that I can finish my career here — hopefully. And that changes the down-the-line stuff, the legacy stuff can be even more important.”
In that same interview, Rodgers acknowledged that it was unlikely he’d be able to get a deal with a ground-breaking structure, such as a player-option like NBA contracts contain.
“I just don’t know how feasible that is,” Rodgers admitted. “I don’t think that’s my direction in this game.”
Before the new deal, which Rodgers was expected to sign before the team departed Green Bay for tonight’s preseason finale at Kansas City, Rodgers had slipped to ninth in the NFL among starting quarterback pay. Rodgers was scheduled to earn $20.9 million this season and $21.1 million next season on his existing deal.
Rodgers’ new deal comes after three quarterbacks signed lucrative offseason contracts: San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo (five years, $137.5 million, $27.5 million per year); Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins (three years, $84 million fully guaranteed, $28 million per year); and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (five years, $150 million, $30 million per year).
Rodgers has said he’d like to play into his 40s, and the new deal improves his chances to do so. But, as he learned during his time as Brett Favre’s understudy — and during the surreal summer of 2008, when Favre retired, unretired, and eventually was traded to the New York Jets — there are no guarantees for anyone.
“Every player would love to be able to pick when and how they finish up,” Rodgers said during the offseason. “That usually doesn’t happen, though. So I’m going to try to play as well as I can for a number of years, and hopefully it’s here the entire time.”
Rodgers, who is entering his 14th NFL season and 11th as the Packers’ starting quarterback, missed most of last season with a broken right collarbone suffered Oct. 15 at Minnesota. It marked the second time in his career he’d been felled by a collarbone fracture, having missed part of the 2013 season with a broken left clavicle.
Rodgers also missed one game during the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV-winning season of 2010 with a concussion. He played through an excruciating right (throwing) shoulder injury during his first year as the starter in 2008, and through a painful torn calf muscle late in the 2014 season.
It was hard to imagine Rodgers leaving such a lucrative deal on the table in advance of the team’s Sept. 9 season opener at Chicago. Rodgers played just seven snaps and threw only four passes in his lone preseason appearance, and it would have been fiscally risky for him to start the season without a new contract, given the guaranteed money he was in line to receive.
Asked why he’d take such a risk, Rodgers replied, “I know how fortunate I am. And I love what I do.” Then, he paused. “It’s a tough question. It really is.
“If you ask the team about the last deal we did, and you ask me, both sides are happy. Right? They paid me a lot of money, and they never had a major salary-cap year. A year that other quarterbacks have had — (New Orleans’ Drew) Brees has had, (Baltimore’s Joe) Flacco’s had — (where) you have $28, $29, $30 million against the cap. Right? That’s never happened with my contract. So in both our opinions, we’ve been able to still add guys to the mix and have a competitive team. And from my standpoint, they paid me a ton of money. And I’m super extremely financially blessed and very happy.
“If we do another deal, that obviously is the goal. I don’t think they would want to nickel and dime me, and I’m not trying to screw them. You know? This is a partnership. That’s the only way this is going to work, and the best way things work in this situation — is that we’re in this thing together. And if they make that financial commitment, that’s what they’re saying, and also there’s an expectation that you’re going to play well. And then that’s my side of the bargain.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.