Critics who worried that the extensions for Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews would hamstring the Green Bay Packers financially can calm down now.
Mere hours before the start of the NFL draft's second day, the Packers announced they had come to terms on a long term deal with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The extension, which adds onto Rodgers' preexisting contract, is worth $110 million over five years. The agreement nets Rodgers $40 million in year one, and $62.5 million over the first three years, though his cap number should remain fairly consistent over the next seven years. In all, Rodgers will make $130.75 million over the next 7 seasons. In terms of total contract value, Rodgers is now the highest paid player in NFL history.
The takeaways from the Rodgers extension are twofold. Because of the way the contract is structured, Rodgers' cap hit will hover at around $21 million per year, which is not significantly higher than the deals Joe Flacco and Drew Brees have received recently. Second, the Matthews deal was not an anomaly. Green Bay will take bigger salary hits in the short term in order to keep their best players on manageable contracts going forward.
The Packers can do this because of their carefully managed cap situation. The team entered the offseason nearly $20 million under the salary cap. Rather than spending on pricey free agents, Green Bay conserved those dollars while team negotiator Russ Ball struck new deals. Matthews' extension includes a $20.5 million signing bonus. Because the contract begins after the final year of Matthews' rookie deal, a large chunk of that bonus be prorated starting this year. Combined with Rodgers' $40 million earnings this season, the Packers will absorb the big hits all at once and give themselves the freedom to spend more money in future years. With Morgan Burnett, Jermichael Finley, and James Jones set to enter free agency after 2013, and even more players the year after that, it's a wise move for the franchise.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JBHirschhorn.
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Check out all of Acme Packing Company's draft coverage: 2013 NFL Draft Central | Green Bay Selects Datone Jones in First Round | Green Bay Drafts Eddie Lacy in Second Round | Packers' Complete Draft Order