Written by Connor Orr at SI.com
The first day of coaching and executive availability at the scouting combine always provides a few worthwhile tidbits as we head into free agency.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst’s thoughts on getting an Aaron Rodgers deal done this offseason will slide under the radar amid cuts and retirements but could end up being the most significant development of the 2018 calendar year—far beyond whoever signs short-term free-agent deals this spring.
Why? Rodgers will not just be another quarterback set to fall in line with the current game of salary leapfrog a la Jimmy Garoppolo and, likely, Kirk Cousins. Rodgers can absolutely obliterate the market if he sees fit.
“When you have the best player in the NFL, it’s not going to be inexpensive,” Gutekunst said, via Pro Football Talk.
Since Rodgers signed his last contract in 2013, here is the percentage of the cap he’s taken up each year:
Compare that to Andrew Luck, who is taking up nearly 20% of the Colts’ cap this coming season, or Russell Wilson (14.3%), Cam Newton (13.56%), Eli Manning (13.8%), Derek Carr (14.87%). Ndamukong Suh takes up a larger percentage of the Dolphins’ cap than Rodgers does in Green Bay. Even the notoriously (wink-wink) “team friendly” deals signed by Tom Brady have him eclipsing 13% of the Patriots’ salary cap in 2018.
In that time, the Packers have not been able to consistently use the spare cash to aid Rodgers in getting back to the Super Bowl. It hampers the argument that a team needs a (relatively) low cap number from a quarterback in order to succeed, just as Garoppolo’s record-setting deal off seven career starts emboldens Rodgers’s case to ask for the equivalent of a blank check.
The smart move would be to further strengthen his bargaining position by waiting until the Cousins deal is done (theoretically, a raise over Garoppolo’s $27.5 million APY) and drop the hammer. What recourse does Green Bay have?
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