Aaron Rodgers’ Long-Anticipated Decision Could Give the Packers a Much-Needed $35 Million Financial Injection

Considering how the root of Aaron Rodgers’ issues with the Green Bay Packers primarily stems from a lack of communication, perhaps we should be surprised that money keeps coming into the conversation.

Then again, cash is king, especially in the professional sports world. As much as the Packers might want the reigning NFL MVP to show up in time for training camp, the team could also have three million reasons to smile if he decides otherwise.

Aaron Rodgers will forfeit $35 million if he doesn’t play for the Packers in 2021

If Rodgers does not play for the Packers in 2021, he stands to forfeit over $35 million between his base salary, the signing bonus, and all other aspects of his contract.

On the one hand, the Packers almost certainly still want to win a Super Bowl this season, and Rodgers gives them the best chance of doing so. However, his lingering issues with the front office may work in the organization’s favor, at least from a financial standpoint.

Because the Packers are a publicly-owned company, the team opens its books and records each year. The Packers lost $38.8 million over the last fiscal year, in large part because the team did not have any ticket revenue during the regular season. Although fans attended two playoff games at Lambeau Field, the ticket revenue in those games went to the NFL.

This is where things get interesting. Remember, Rodgers has to give back $35.6 million if he never shows up, regardless of if he retires or simply sits the season out. Although the team will still have lost $38.8 million, they’d also get nearly all of it back through one player’s stubbornness.

The Packers could still take a financial hit if Rodgers isn’t playing for them this season

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2020.
After losing $38 million in the 2020 fiscal year, the Green Bay Packers could make most of that back if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t play for them in 2021 | Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Unfortunately for the Packers, things aren’t as simple as them having a net loss of $3.2 million. Again, whatever Rodgers does will not erase how much money the team lost last year.

The Packers also have to be prepared for what happens if the team starts Jordan Love and the team isn’t a Super Bowl contender. Although Packers fans will always support their team, the allure of sitting in the stands for a freezing game at Lambeau Field if the Packers are out of playoff contention might not be there if Love is behind center on a 3-10 team in December.

Before the pandemic, the Packers sold out every game from 1959 through the end of the 2019 regular season. They kept coming when the Packers only made one playoff appearance from 1973 through 1992. The fans showed up en masse in 2005 when the team started 2-10 en route to a 4-12 finish.

The fans will show up, but they can still hurt the Packers’ wallets in other ways. If Love is terrible, are Packers fans really going to want to buy his jersey? Some may even side with Rodgers and decide that supporting the Packers isn’t finally worth it.

Should the Packers even want Rodgers to show up at this point?

The Packers have shown every desire in recent months to make realistic compromises and make up with their franchise quarterback. Look no further than the team reportedly offering to make Rodgers the highest-paid player in the league.

But at this point, it’s clear that this isn’t about money. Rodgers feels slighted by the team’s lack of communication, especially when it involved trading up for Love in the 2020 NFL Draft, and he’s shown no signs of wanting to put things behind him.

The time has to come, if it hasn’t already, where the Packers finally decide what they feel is the right move. If Rodgers says on August 15 that he’s ready to come back, should the team welcome him into the locker room? Or, by that point, will they feel the best move is to continue moving forward with Love at quarterback?

There are no easy answers here, and the best-case scenario for all sides might be trading Rodgers for multiple draft picks. But at least if the three-time MVP spends the fall on his couch, the Packers will have an extra $35 million coming their way. Just imagine what you could do with $35 million, at least what remains of it after taxes.

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