While contract extension talks between the Green Bay Packers and star quarterback Aaron Rodgers await a resolution, it’s easy to say that the franchise has been blessed with stellar quarterback play over the past two and a half decades.
It’s also fair to acknowledge how time has impacted the dollars and cents of all-pro contract extensions.
Rewinding back to this date in 1997, the Packers locked up Hall of Famer Brett Favre to a then-league record seven-year contract worth $47.25 million, including a $12 million signing bonus. That deal paid the 27-year old Favre slightly higher than Barry Sanders and Troy Aikman, who had agreed to similar contracts in prior seasons.
For Favre, the contract came on the back-end of a 1996 season in which he led the franchise to its first championship since the 1967 season. He earned his second consecutive NFL Most Valuable Player award after passing for 3,899 yards and 39 touchdowns during a 13-3 campaign. Favre also re-inked just in time for the 1997 season, one which saw the Packers once again reach the Super Bowl and Favre bring home another MVP honor.
Favre’s record-setting deal in 1997, which seemed to satisfy the all-pro’s wish to finish his career in Green Bay, would be followed up by a second in 2001, three years prior to the end of his first extension. Termed a “lifetime contract,” Favre signed on for another 10 years and around $100 million with Green Bay. Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel asserted at the time that “as long as Favre plays football, it will be in a Packers uniform.” Of course, this contract would not provide such an assurance to Packers fans in the long run.
Looking forward to 2018, the Packers find themselves in the midst of another monumental contract negotiation with a future Hall of Fame quarterback. While Rodgers has two MVP awards and one Super Bowl appearance to his name, he is destined for an extension with an annual salary three times his former teammate.
After Matt Ryan’s extension this offseason for five years and $150 million, including a staggering $100 million guaranteed, Rodgers is primed for a deal averaging more than $30 million per season. He may seek a new precedent with an “adjustable deal” or he may not. But it can no longer be assumed that any deal represents a lifetime one, especially in Green Bay.
Still, more than 20 years to this date, we remember Favre as the heroic Packer quarterback that helped set the bar for quarterback contracts. Even with one averaging just under $7 million per year.