It seemed like we were past the speculation as to whether Aaron Rodgers could potentially leave the Green Bay Packers in the near future. While it may not happen this offseason, it’s starting to look like it could certainly happen next offseason or the year after. This is due to the Packers’ latest move involving Rodgers’ contract. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is not too happy about what the Packers just did, either, as he recently said that Green Bay will ultimately “pay” for its actions.
Aaron Rodgers’ Packers contract has not been restructured
The possible future implications of specific NFL contract moves can certainly be confusing for most fans. According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, though, if the Packers want to move on from Aaron Rodgers after 2021, their latest move just potentially made it more financially feasible to do so.
As Demovsky reported, Green Bay reportedly did not change Rodgers’ contract last week and paid his roster bonus as is. This is instead of changing it to a signing bonus, which would have freed up over $4.5 million in cap space for the Packers in 2021.
However, had they done that, Rodgers would have also counted more toward the cap for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. So, essentially, the Packers just chose not to increase the amount of potential future dead money they could have on their books in the scenario that Rodgers leaves after this upcoming season.
A source, though, said to ESPN that a restructure or contract extension is still possible. Multiple sources have also reportedly said that they think Rodgers wants assurances that he is in the Packers’ plans for beyond 2021. Green Bay could actually do this without adding money to his contract by converting “a large portion of his $14.7 million base salary into a signing bonus,” per ESPN. However, this would, again, increase the amount of dead money for Green Bay if the team does want to move on next season.
This is pretty much a complicated way of saying that the Packers appear to be looking toward the future, as it is still very much a possibility that Rodgers could leave Green Bay after 2021. But nothing is certain.
Stephen A. Smith sent a stern message to the Packers
Stephen A. Smith recently appeared on his ESPN show, First Take, and he, as he has in the past, slammed the Packers for their treatment of Aaron Rodgers.
“This is just a latest example of a lack of appreciation as far as I’m concerned,” Smith said on the March 24 episode. “… Essentially what you’re doing is you’re doing everything that you can to prepare for a future without Aaron Rodgers. … Yeah, you gave him the roster bonus, but in the same breath, what you’re doing is giving indications ‘You know what, this man may not be a part of our future plans. Let’s make sure that we do what we can as an organization to position ourselves to be competitive without him.’ Who thinks about being competitive without Aaron Rodgers when he clearly shows that he has so much football left in him?”
He continued: “To me, it’s a mistake; it’s a misstep, and it will be something that they will ultimately pay for when all is said and done.”
Stephen A. Smith definitely made some good points. The Packers may be wasting some of Aaron Rodgers’ last few great years by just preparing for the future.
No matter what happens after the 2021 season, though, we all know that Rodgers still has a lot of football left in him.
Aaron Rodgers had an excellent 2020 season with the Packers
Despite leading the Packers to a 13-3 record and the NFC Championship Game in 2019, some people wondered if Aaron Rodgers had lost a step. He proved that notion wrong real quick in 2020, though.
Rodgers won his third league MVP award with the Packers in 2020, after throwing for 4,299 yards, a league-leading 48 touchdown passes, and only five interceptions. He also led the NFL in completion percentage with 70.7%. His play ultimately helped the Packers go 13-3 again, and he took them to the NFC Championship Game for a second consecutive season. To put it simply: Aaron Rodgers balled in 2020.
So, why would Green Bay want to move on after 2021? Because he’s 37? Tom Brady just won his seventh Super Bowl at 43. If Rodgers can follow Brady’s path, then he, at least, still has a few good years left in him.
It will be interesting to see what comes of the Aaron Rodgers and Packers situation. No matter what happens, though, we all know that he is still one of the best QBs in the NFL.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference