Aaron Rodgers is returning to the Green Bay Packers for 2021. That’s the upshot of the news coming out of Green Bay on Monday, the day before the team’s players were set to report for training camp.
According to multiple media sources, Rodgers and the Packers have worked out an agreement to ensure his return for the upcoming football season. Rodgers, whose contract currently runs through 2023 but with no remaining guaranteed money, will have that final year effectively erased from the contract. The 2023 year will void and the Packers will agree not to use a franchise tag on him, making him a free agent if he is still under contract with the team at the end of the 2022 season.
Rodgers’ contract was due to pay him $14.7 million in base salary this season and $25 million each in 2022 and 2023. This move will likely shift at least some of Rodgers’ base into a signing bonus, spreading it out into future years to allow the team a bit of additional financial flexibility for 2021.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, there are a few primary reasons why Rodgers would agree to the adjusted contract. One is a condition that the team will “review Rodgers’ situation” after the upcoming season, in the spring of 2022. That language is particularly vague, however, giving no indication as to whether there is an explicit agreement to trade him or simply that the two sides will check in after the year.
Additionally, the void year will put some added pressure on the Packers to make a decision on Rodgers’ future next March. Although the team could keep him through the last year of his contract and allow him to leave in free agency in 2023, the team would receive only a high compensatory draft pick in 2024 in that case. By contrast, a trade in 2022 would likely net the team significant and immediate draft picks instead. That added motivation likely gives Rodgers some level of confidence that the team indeed will move him if his relationship with the front office fails to improve or work with him on a long-term extension if the two sides become more amicable.
Also present in Schefter’s list of accommodations from the Packers is that “mechanisms will be put in place to address Rodgers’ issues with the team.” While that language is particularly vague, even compared to the other conditions Schefter describes, reports have emerged from multiple NFL sources that Rodgers wants the Packers to re-acquire former teammate Randall Cobb, now a member of the Houston Texans.
Cobb will turn 31 years old in August and recorded only modest numbers in 2020, but he maintains a close relationship with Rodgers, joining him at the Kentucky Derby earlier this year. CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones notes that the Texans’ trade with the Bears for slot receiver Anthony Miller this weekend may be a preemptive move to fill Cobb’s spot should he indeed head back to Green Bay. However, in April the Packers drafted Amari Rodgers, a player with a similar skill set to Cobb.
Whether or not Cobb plays any part of this agreement, the team’s reported concessions likely relate to Rodgers’ reported displeasure with the Packers’ front office, particularly as it relates to him providing opinions on personnel to general manager Brian Gutekunst.
An added benefit for the Packers of getting Rodgers back in the fold is the possibility of re-signing Davante Adams. Adams and the team had reportedly broken off contract negotiations a few days ago with the superstar wide receiver heading into a contract year. However, Schefter reports that Adams is willing to listen to offers again from the team. Rodgers’ and Adams’ joint Instagram posts this weekend now make much more sense in light of today’s events.
Ultimately, the Packers are set get Rodgers back for another year on the heels of back-to-back NFC Championship Game appearances. Meanwhile, Rodgers gets an adjusted contract that will make it more desirable for the team to either extend or move him after one more year with the team, as well as some other concessions that have yet to be clarified.
This agreement gives both the team and the player their best chances — by far — at winning another Super Bowl in 2021.