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Aaron Rodgers’ contract should increase Packers’ cap hit by less than $1M in 2018

This assumes that the numbers reported so far are accurate, but the Packers stayed close to even on the cap for this year on the new deal.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Oakland Raiders Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

As we now know, the Green Bay Packers have reportedly agreed to a four-year contract extension with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The deal makes him the highest-paid player in NFL history in terms of both total guaranteed money, average annual value, and total value.

However, as is always the case, the devil is in the details. Rodgers already carried a cap hit of just over $20.56 million for the 2018 season. With the structure of the contract, the Packers are able to free up some cap space by doing so. Spotrac estimated that the Packers could free up a maximum of $15.4 million with a Rodgers deal, but the real cap savings for this year will certainly fall well short of that. In fact, it appears that his cap hit will increase for this year, but only slightly.

Let’s recap what has been reported so far:

  • The deal is for four additional years. Since Rodgers had two years remaining, this makes his current contract effectively a six-year deal, running through 2023.
  • The contract includes $33.5 million per year in new money and a reported $103 million in “effective guarantees.” (source: James Jones)
  • Here’s a look at Rodgers’ cash flow: his signing bonus is reported at $57.5 million, he is projected to receive $66.9 million by the end of the 2018 NFL season, and he’ll get a total of $80 million by March. (sources: @RapSheet, @AdamSchefter)

Now, here’s a closer look at what that means for the cap, at least for 2018.

According to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, the $57.5 million signing bonus is spread out over the first five years of the contract. That comes to $11.5 million on the cap per year. The difference between the $66.9 million number and the signing bonus will be Rodgers’ in-season compensation, consisting of his base salary and any per-game active roster bonuses that are present. That comes to $9.4 million, which is added to the $11.5 million for a total of $20.9 million. Add in a $500,000 workout bonus already paid out this offseason and we get to a total of $21.4 million.

UPDATE: There is conflicting information regarding Rodgers’ workout bonus, which has already been paid out. One way of reading the reports is as stated above, that the workout bonus is separate from the rest of the compensation package. However, some sources, including former NFL agent Joel Corry, have reported that the half-million is included in $9.4 million number. If the latter is the case, then Rodgers’ base salary is actually $8.9 million and his cap hit drops to $20.9 million.

If Rodgers’ contract had kept per-game active roster bonuses in, they would be counted against the cap only based on how many games the player played the previous year; since Rodgers only suited up for seven games, the Packers have to count just 7/16 of his total roster bonus amount for 2018. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say the Packers had kept his total roster bonus amount at $600,000, which was the total value that it held on his old deal. In this case, subtracting 9/16 of that amount gets us to $20.64 million for a cap hit in 2018. However, former Corry is reporting that there are no per-game active roster bonuses in Rodgers’ new deal. In this case, the math in this paragraph is irrelevant and his cap hit would be the $20.9 million mentioned above.

The remainder of the $80 million that Rodgers will see by March should come in a roster bonus paid out around the start of next year’s free agency. That would go on the Packers’ cap in 2019 instead.

Thus, compared to Rodgers’ previous cap number on his old contract, this new deal — again, based on the numbers that have been reported — should actually increase Rodgers’ cap hit for 2018. However, that increase is quite small, at $337,500. Meanwhile, the trade of Brett Hundley took a $705,000 cap hit off the books.

Here’s the breakdown in table form, with the revised assumption that the workout bonus is technically part of the new deal:

Rodgers’ Projected Contract for 2018

Compensation New Contract - 2018 Cash New Contract - 2018 Cap Previous Contract - 2018 Cap
Compensation New Contract - 2018 Cash New Contract - 2018 Cap Previous Contract - 2018 Cap
Signing Bonus $57.50 $11.50 $0.00
Projected base salary $8.90 $8.90 $19.80
Per-Game Roster Bonuses $0.00 $0.00 $0.26
Workout Bonus (already paid) $0.50 $0.50 $0.50
Total $66.90 $20.90 $20.56