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Big contracts led to big expenses & small profits for Packers in 2018-19 fiscal year

Between Aaron Rodgers’ record deal and four new free agents, Green Bay paid out a lot more money in signing bonuses over the past 12 months than they ever have before.

NFL: Green Bay Packers Shareholder’s Meeting Green Bay Press Gazette-USA TODAY Sports

Each July, the Green Bay Packers release their financial report for the prior fiscal year, which runs from July to June, and the report for the 2018-19 year showed an unusual situation for the franchise. The Green Bay Press-Gazette has broken down the details, which show that the Packers only had about $724,000 in profits in the last year. This was a significant drop from the year before, when the team took in $34 million more than it paid out.

However, as the Press-Gazette and team president Mark Murphy both noted, there were some particularly uncommon expenses that contributed to the profit number. Indeed, the team set a record for expenses last year, despite also setting a new record for total revenue.

The largest contribution to the expenses — by far — was player costs. And in the past year, the team has paid out significant amounts of money in signing bonuses. First, the team signed Aaron Rodgers to an NFL-record contract extension, giving him a massive bonus in the process. Then general manager Brian Gutekunst brought in four big-name free agents in March, each of whom received significant bonuses as well. In total, the bonus pool went up threefold from the previous year.

Here are the signing bonuses that the five big-ticket players received this year:

  • Aaron Rodgers: $57.5 million
  • Za’Darius Smith: $20 million
  • Preston Smith: $16 million
  • Adrian Amos: $11 million
  • Billy Turner: $9 million

In total, that’s $113.5 million spent solely on these significant signing bonuses. In the prior year, the team spent about $37 million on signing bonuses for major contracts, covering Davante Adams ($18M), Corey Linsley ($8M), and Jimmy Graham ($11M).

In addition, the Press-Gazette mentioned that the Packers began making payments to the NFL’s concussion settlement, another new cost. The firing of head coach Mike McCarthy and much of his coaching staff as well as the hiring of replacements also made for a significant source of cost.

Fans of other NFL teams, however, will likely be most interested in a different number: national revenue, which is divided equally across all 32 franchises. That number, which accounts for all league-related income, came in at $274.3 million this year.

All told, the Packers appear to be in fine financial position. They still turned a profit — albeit just barely — despite record-high player expenses and a second straight losing season. Expect more details next week when the Packers hold the franchise’s shareholders meeting on Wednesday, July 24th.