Aaron Rodgers

Latest On Aaron Rodgers, Packers Negotiations

Could an Aaron Rodgers extension be on the horizon? That’s what Packers president Mark Murphy seemed to be insinuating when asked about the progress of the negotiations. Murphy told WTMJ.com that the Packers “hope to soon have a contract extension” for Rodgers (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com).

Rodgers is set to earn $22MM next season, but the quarterback market has already been reset due to recent deals signed by Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan. The Packers signal-caller will trail other quarterbacks by around $8MM, meaning he’ll surely be in line for a sizable pay increase. However, as Florio points out, Rodgers is realistically four years away from hitting the open market. The 34-year-old has two years left on his contract, and it makes sense to apply the franchise tag for a player of his caliber for the two years after that.

Besides a pay increase, we also recently heard that Rodgers could be seeking options and out-clauses in his next contract. However, the quarterback quickly rejected those rumors, citing the slow offseason as a reason for the false claims. There were also whispers that the franchise quarterback was frustrated that the organization didn’t talk to him before releasing wideout Jordy Nelson and parting ways with quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt. It was said that the relationship “isn’t in total disrepair,” although there was clear tension between the two sides.

Rodgers was limited to only seven games last season after suffering a fractured right collarbone in mid-October. While his team went 4-3 in his seven starts, he still managed to put up solid numbers. Rodgers ultimately finished the campaign having completed 64.7-percent of his passes for 1,675 yards, 16 touchdowns, and six interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: OBJ, Eagles, Seahawks, 49ers

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham missed his fourth straight day of OTAs on Monday, per Ryan Dunleavy of NJ Advanced Media. Beckham attended the team’s first three workouts but has missed every once since, with just three minicamp practices remaining this offseason.

The development could point to a potential training camp holdout for Beckham as he’s entering the final season of his rookie deal. Beckham has stated his intention of being the highest paid wide receiver in the league, meaning he’d make in excess of $17MM per year.

The Giants are scheduled to hold a mandatory three-day minicamp from June 12-14. If Beckham is once again a no-show, he can be fined approximately $70,000. Giants coach Pat Shurmur said that Beckham is nearing clearance to return to full-time practice duties following ankle surgery last season, which caused him to miss the final 11 games of the year. Beckham has been limited to limited individual running and catching drills in practice thus far.

Beckham is slated to make $8.45 MM next season a part of the fifth-year option from his rookie deal. He’s yet to speak with the media since the Giants reportedly shopped him around in trade talks in March.

Here’s more from around the NFC

  • Seahawks offensive lineman Duane Brown told members of the Seattle media, including Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (on Twitter), that there isn’t an update in regard to a contract extension with the Seahawks. Condotta noted that Brown said he’s confident a deal will get done, though. Brown was acquired by the Seahawks from the Texans in October of last year. The 32-year-old, four-time Pro Bowler is slated to make $9.75MM in 2018, which is the final year of his deal.
  • Elliot Shorr-Parks of NJ Advanced Media points out that due to the Eagles releasing Mychal Kendricks with a post-June 1 designation, they earned an additional amount of cap space. They currently stand at $6.1MM in available cap space, which will roll over into 2019. The Eagles had previously had just $94,000 in cap space, which ranked as the lowest in the NFL. Kendricks officially signed with the Browns on Monday.
  • Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said that reports of him seeking out-clauses and options on his contract to stay in control of his deal are just “conjecture,” per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It’s kind of a slow period for football right now and we’re heading into the summer, and there’s not much to talk about unless somebody gets arrested or injured in the offseason or something happens on the Fourth of July,” Rodgers said, via Silverstein. “That’s usually the stories we get now until training camp. I don’t have anything to report at this point.”

NFC Notes: Rodgers, Eagles, Johnson

It was reported by Mike Garafolo of NFL Network on Thursday that Aaron Rodgers was looking to have more control over his future, perhaps in the form of an out clause in his next contract with the Packers. Now more information has been revealed by Garafolo and his colleague Ian Rapoport (Twitter links).

Garafolo followed up his original report by saying there won’t be an “automatic trigger” to void years of the contract like some had speculated, but that Rodgers was “looking for more player control over his deal than the average NFL contract.”

Rapoport added that he was hearing “A proposed contract would include a series of player options.” As Rapoport notes, it’s a fascinating situation. After Kirk Cousins became the first quarterback to ever get a multi-year fully guaranteed deal, it isn’t surprising that more of the league’s top signal-callers will be looking for unconventional contracts. For years, contracts in the NFL more or less all followed the same rigid process that was very much controlled by the teams and owners, a dynamic that appears to now finally be shifting. Whatever contract extension Rodgers does end up signing, it’ll likely make him the NFL’s highest paid player.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood is a “long-shot” to make the 53-man roster, according to Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. Smallwood played a big role as a rookie in 2016, carrying the ball 77 times for 312 yards, but saw his role greatly diminished last season. Now Shorr-Parks thinks the Eagles’ suddenly crowded running backs room will end up pushing Smallwood off the team altogether, saying “At this point Smallwood is facing a steep uphill battle to make the roster.”
  • Shorr-Parks also thinks cornerback Ronald Darby may not be on the team much longer. He writes that the Eagles have been impressed with fourth-year undrafted cornerback De’Vante Bausby, who’s been running with the first-team during OTAs. Shorr-Parks says “The Eagles won’t cut Darby, but a strong training camp from Bausby could put Darby on the trade block.”
  • The Lions have apparently been impressed with second-round running back Kerryon Johnson, and envision him playing a big role as a rookie. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Lions see Johnson as a three-down back. If Johnson is playing the majority of snaps, with recently signed LeGarrette Blount in the fold, it could mean the end of the Ameer Abdullah era in Detroit. Abdullah has been mentioned as a possible cut-candidate by Lions reporters all offseason, and Johnson’s emergence could seal his fate.

 

NFC Notes: Bears, OBJ, Rodgers, Kaepernick

Bears wide receiver and 2015 first-round pick Kevin Whitecan’t be a lock to make the 53-man roster coming out of preseason,” according to the Chicago Tribune’s Bradd Biggs.

Briggs continues by saying, “White is guaranteed a little more than $2.69MM this season. While there is offset language in his contract, there’s no way another team would pay him that kind of money, so the Bears would be on the hook for at least a portion if they were to release him. It’s not enough money to say he’s locked into a spot.”

The sentiment is not a shocker. After the Bears overhauled their receiving corps with Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and rookie pass catcher Anthony Miller, the injury-prone wideout will have to make an impact on the field to assure his roster spot.

The second receiver taken in 2015, behind Amari Cooper, White boasted an impressive combination of size, speed and strength that projected the West Virginia product to be Chicago’s future No. 1 receiver. Instead, he has been ravaged by injuries that have limited him to just five games in three seasons. He flashed signs of progress in 2016 with back-to-back six-catch games, but he immediately suffered a high ankle sprain that resulted in a fracture and sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

Briggs notes that he has made progress and all signs are pointing positive early at OTAs. “The coaches are saying the right things about him. They like the way he looks. They like his work ethic and approach.”

If White is able to produce at even a fraction of his potential in 2017, Mitch Trubisky will have plenty of weapons to operate with in his sophomore campaign.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • The Giants and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. could be nearing a contract showdown, writes Ralph Vacchiano of SportsNet New York. Once the Pro Bowl pass catcher is cleared to fully practice he could opt for a holdout since he has yet to publicly dismiss an earlier report that he “will not set foot on a field without a contract extension.” Though that option is not a certainty, Vacchiano notes Beckham’s leverage is rather strong, in that the Giants are in win-now mode with an aging quarterback who has struggled without his go-to receiver. Holdouts rarely go the way of the player, but we’ll see if Beckham tries to buck the trend.
  • When the Packers sit down at the negotiating table with Aaron Rodgers on an extension, one thing the quarterback will be looking for is a possible out on his deal, reports NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (Twitter link). “Another aspect that I’m told is extremely important to [Rodgers] is player control — How much control can he have on his future,” Garafolo said. The All-Pro quarterback will almost assuredly become the highest-paid player in the league when he signs a deal, which seems like a slam dunk at this point, but his ability to have an out in the deal is one thing to keep an eye on. 
  • The attorney for former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid, Mark Geragos, told reporters, “I would stay tuned because this case is about to take a dramatic turn.” Asked about the claim, Geragos added, “somebody has decided they were to dime out the NFL for what they were doing.” This implies there being a witness who can contradict the NFL’s stance that each team decided neither player can help their roster. There is sure to be more to develop in this case in the coming days.

Community Tailgate: Rodgers’ Contract

With Kirk Cousins‘ and Matt Ryan‘s landmark deals completed, the market is seemingly set up for Aaron Rodgers to reset it. He seems to agree, if an airport encounter with Thomas Dimitroff is any indication.

But now that those dominoes have fallen, and the QB market’s per-year ceiling has been raised by $3MM as a result, what will Rodgers’ deal look like?

Cousins ushered the NFL into new territory with a fully guaranteed contract. The Packers’ starting quarterback’s accomplishments dwarfing the Vikings’ new one, he will certainly command more money. But the Packers may not be eager to structure Rodgers’ deal this way — a three-year, fully guaranteed agreement — since he’s under contract through 2019 on his current pact.

Green Bay has Rodgers signed to what became an incredibly team-friendly contract (five years, $110MM), and while it’s virtually impossible to imagine Rodgers getting to the 2019 season on his current deal and the leverage that would come with that position, his through-’19 accord wouldn’t seem to line up with a Cousins-type deal.

Ryan’s contract structure — five years, $150MM — would make more sense for the Packers, and that certainly would be the floor for the two-time MVP that’s probably the most valuable commodity in the NFL. Rodgers is only entering his age-34 season and recently said near-future retirement is not in the cards for him.

The 2005 first-round pick had to wait until his fourth season to start, and top-tier QB peers like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger are much closer to retirement than he is. The Packers’ long-term future can still include the two-time MVP, and thus a perpetual Super Bowl window. And with those future Hall of Famers out of the picture at some point, Rodgers could have an even bigger opportunity to burnish his legacy.

Assuming the Packers follow the Falcons’ blueprint here, how much can Rodgers justifiably earn? The quarterback market moved rather slowly after Rodgers signed his extension in spring 2013. Entering the summer of 2017, the NFL hadn’t yet seen a $25MM-per-year player. But now that the market’s rapidly escalated, it sets up well for Rodgers to transport salaries further north.

Ryan’s $30MM AAV comprises approximately 17 percent of the league’s $177MM salary cap. Rodgers’ $22MM-per-year deal actually represented a greater percentage of the $123MM cap (18 percent) in 2013. An 18 percent chunk of the current cap is nearly $32MM, which would be quite reasonable. But with the cap rising, and Rodgers’ value being displayed via his absence last season, he could obviously ask for more. Is any kind of Packers-friendly discount, for the purposes of the franchise optimally building around him, in the cards? The cap’s steady rise and Rodgers’ 2013 contract becoming outdated (currently 10th among QBs) may nix that logic quickly.

Is a contract that is tied to a percentage of the salary cap a viable scenario? If a player was going to pursue that, Cousins may have been the one — a free agent franchise-level passer in his prime. But Rodgers’ immense importance to his team may make him a logical candidate for such an attempt. It would prevent his deal from becoming a bargain as the cap climbs toward (and eventually exceeds) $200MM in the next few years, but the Packers would obviously be hesitant about this type of player-friendly structure.

So, what will Rodgers’ next contract look like? He seems likely to exceed Ryan’s $94.5MM fully guaranteed figure, but by how much? Is he going to push for a $35MM-per-year deal and take the quarterback market to another stratosphere, or is a pact somewhere in between that and Ryan’s AAV where this will end up? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Lions, Packers, Steelers

The Lions are still in need of reinforcements at defensive tackle, and it seems inevitable Detroit will make a free agent addition before the regular season gets underway, as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes. Although the Lions have already added a few new players to their interior, veteran Sylvester Williams and fourth-round pick Da’Shawn Hand aren’t likely to be full-time contributors. Detroit’s front four ranked in the bottom third of the league in both adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate, an indication the unit struggled against both the run and pass. Free agents such as Alan Branch and Ricky Jean-Francois could make sense for the Lions given their familiarity with new head coach Matt Patricia‘s defensive scheme, while Johnathan Hankins, while Quinton Dial, Karl Klug, or Frostee Rucker could also speculatively be on Detroit’s radar.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • While his contract is currently a matter of discussion, it doesn’t sound as though Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has plans to hang up his cleats any time soon, per Aaron Nagler of PackersNews.com. “It’s sustained greatness I think is what drives me,” Rodgers said (link via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “It’s to be the best and to be able to choose when I’m done playing. I think as you’ve seen here recently with Jordy [Nelson] but even you go back a few years to whether it’s Julius Peppers or A.J. Hawk or John Kuhn or Brett Favre, the fairy tale ending of starting a career and ending it with the same organization rarely happens. So that’s kind of my goal, is to be able to be indispensable to this organization into my 40s to where you’ve got to keep me around.” Rodgers, 34, is currently signed through the 2019 season, but Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst expects a contract extension to come together relatively soon.
  • Free agent wideout Eli Rogers is likely to re-sign with the Steelers as soon as he’s healthy, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Rogers tore his ACL in January before being non-tendered by Pittsburgh, so it could some time before he regains full use of his knee. Although the Steelers should have more targets up for grabs after trading Martavis Bryant to the Raiders, second-round pick James Washington would be standing in Rogers’ way if he’s re-upped. Rogers, 25, managed 48 receptions from the slot in 2016, but came back to earth with just 16 catches a season ago.
  • The Packers will work out former BYU wide receiver Jonah Trinnaman as a cornerback this week, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The Jets also plan to audition Trinnaman in the near future, although it sounds like New York will take a look at the ex-Cougar at his natural pass-catching position.While Trinnaman didn’t put up much in the way of production during his collegiate career, he exploded during his pro day with a 4.30 40-yard dash, 12-foot broad jump, and a 40.5-inch vertical jump.

Extra Points: Kaepernick, Raiders, Greg Little, Cardinals

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were deposed in the collusion grievance filed by Colin Kaepernick this week, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).

Expanding on the subject, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio recounts that the “Seahawks were planning to bring in the quarterback for a workout, but the team canceled the session when Kaepernick declined to commit to stand for the national anthem.” 

Despite the case, Carroll has not closed the door on the former 49ers quarterback joining the team. As Florio writes, however, “It would be awkward, to say the least, for Kaepernick to sign with Seattle after his lawyers questioned Schneider and Carroll under oath…”

Seattle is still the only team to have brought Kaepernick in for a visit since hitting free agency after the 2016 season. This long saga still appears to be far from a conclusion.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Earlier this week, the Raiders signed longtime Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson to a one-year deal. The details of that contract came out today, with the 13-year pro set to make $1.5MM. The contract includes a $200,000 signing bonus and $500,000 total guaranteed. With incentives, the deal could top out at $2.25MM, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweets.
  • Former Browns receiver Greg Little appeared at the Cardinals rookie minicamp, Kyle Odegard of azcardinals.com writes. Little, who hasn’t played a game since the 2014 season, was a promising second-round pick who flamed out after three seasons. The Cardinals offered the 28-year-old wideout a tryout this weekend and impressed new head coach Steve Wilks.
  • ESPN’s Dan Graziano took a crack at projecting the next big-money quarterbacks. To no one’s surprise, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tops the list in 2020, but the sides are expected to come to a deal before that time. Among the other signal-callers who could surpass Kirk Cousins‘ big deal are Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Extra Points: Pack, Ravens, Saints, Conley

Brian Gutekunst remains confident the Packers will sign Aaron Rodgers to an extension this offseason, telling Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk he expects an agreement “soon.” The first-year GM said both sides continue to work on a pact. Although, the negotiations likely just saw the price rise since Matt Ryan‘s five-year, $150MM extension raised the ceiling for quarterback contracts. However, Gutekunst told Florio before Ryan’s Falcons agreement was finalized that both the Packers and Rodgers may be waiting to see if any other quarterback deals are completed this offseason. With Kirk Cousins signed and Ryan now locked up through 2023, Rodgers’ deal is likely next on the QB docket. Although, it’s still possible the Patriots and Tom Brady revise the reigning MVP’s contract. With two years remaining on Rodgers’ deal, Florio estimates the final result will be a contract closer to Ryan’s through-2023 deal than Cousins’ three-year accord. He also expects Rodgers’ new deal to further raise the quarterback ceiling, one that’s climbed considerably since Derek Carr became the league’s first $25MM-AAV player less than a year ago.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Two rookies the Ravens may well have hoped to land went to AFC North rivals. Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun notes the Ravens were eyeing Miami running back Mark Walton with their fourth-round pick, but the Bengals ended up selecting him six spots before Baltimore’s next pick — one that went to Alabama cornerback Anthony Averett. The other player they may well have wanted ended up in Pittsburgh. Zreibec adds the Ravens most likely sought James Washington, who went to the Steelers late in the second round. Eric DeCosta said a few times during this draft he became “angrier than usual” because of a player going off the board just prior to a Ravens selection window, and Zreibec assumes the Oklahoma State wide receiver was the source of one of these agitation bouts.
  • Brandon Coleman‘s Saints contract is worth a maximum of $1MM, Larry Holder of NOLA.com reports. Coleman re-signed with New Orleans after not being tendered as a restricted free agent. Had the Saints applied the low-end tender to Coleman, he would have made $1.9MM this season. After the Saints selected Tre’Quan Smith in the third round, Coleman and return specialist Tommylee Lewis could be battling for a roster spot, Nick Underhill of The Advocate writes.
  • On the subject of Saints position battles, Underhill notes the Saints are high enough on Taysom Hill that they might be ready to cut Tom Savage and carry just two quarterbacks if Hill beats him out for the backup job. They also brought in J.T. Barrett this month. Hill served as the Saints’ third-string quarterback last season behind Drew Brees and Chase Daniel. It would cost the Saints just $100K if they released Savage.
  • Gareon Conley has yet to receive full clearance to return to Raiders workouts, but Jon Gruden said that appears imminent, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. Conley underwent shin surgery last year after missing almost his entire rookie season. Gruden indicated the 2017 first-round pick is running with teammates and participating in walkthroughs but hasn’t been given a full green light yet.
  • Both of Eric Berry‘s twin younger brothers are with teams this weekend. One will have a chance to join the All-Pro safety with the Chiefs. Elliott Berry is in Kansas City working as a tryout player, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Meanwhile, Evan Berry signed with the Browns as a UDFA on Friday. Both of twins played at Tennessee, as Eric did.

Aaron Rodgers Frustrated With Packers

The Packers’ relationship with their franchise quarterback is not in a great place right now. Aaron Rodgers is upset with the organization after being left out of discussions that resulted in major changes this offseason, multiple league sources tell Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. Specifically, Rodgers wanted to be consulted with before the team released wide receiver Jordy Nelson and parted ways with quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt

Both of those decisions [with Nelson and Van Pelt] were made without him,” one source close to Rodgers said. “In both situations, he had no influence with [the front office] before anything went down….I know he’s thinking about that stuff when it comes to the next contract because he should have earned a voice by now. In other places with [elite] quarterbacks, consideration is given to those guys. I think Aaron wants to be engaged in some decisions. But that’s just not the way it works [in Green Bay]. I think that’s obviously frustrating and it’s going to keep coming out.”

The relationship between Rodgers and the Packers “isn’t in total disrepair,” but the divide is real. One can’t help but wonder if Rodgers’ discontent could lead to real problems for the two parties in the coming years.

The good news for the Packers is that, contractually, they have significant leverage. Rodgers is slated to earn $20.5MM in 2018 and $21.1MM in 2019 – numbers that are well below market for the two-time MVP – and he can be controlled through 2021 via consecutive franchise tags.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Gutekunst On Rodgers Extension Status

Top Packers decision-makers continue to expect an Aaron Rodgers extension to be finalized this offseason. Brian Gutekunst continued to express that sentiment recently. And the new GM addressed some other components of this process as well.

Rodgers is set to have a cap number of $20.562MM this season, which is the penultimate year of his current contract. Gutekunst said lowering that may be an option.

Obviously, the way the contract could be structured could help lower the cap number, give us a little bit more flexibility,” Gutekunst said, via Jason Wilde in a Wisconsin State Journal story. “But at the same time, when you have a player of Aaron’s ability and what he’s done for this organization and what we expect him to do moving forward, I think you just kind of want to get that taken care of. From our standpoint, he’s obviously very important to where we’re trying to go. It just makes sense for everybody.”

The 34-year-old quarterback signed a five-year, $110MM deal in April 2013. That contract, then atop the quarterback spectrum, has been surpassed by many in the past five years. Most recently, the Kirk Cousins/Vikings pact — three years for a fully guaranteed $84MM — changed the market.

The prospect of a $30MM-plus AAV agreement for Rodgers has been posited by some outside the organization, and the Packers as of now have no intentions on convincing their centerpiece player to accept a team-friendly deal.

I don’t think there’s really been any discussions about that,” Gutekunst said. “He’ll be under contract for two more years, and we expect him to be a Packer for the rest of his career. Those discussions haven’t gotten to that point yet.

Wilde writes that the Packers want to move forward with these negotiations soon to avoid any animosity between the team and Rodgers. And Gutekunst said top Green Bay negotiator Russ Ball and David Dunn, Rodgers’ agent, are in the beginning stages of these talks.

… It would be nice. Again, the sooner the better,” Gutekunst said of the Rodgers contract being completed before the season. “But at the same time, I don’t think there’s any stress in that one as far as what both sides want to do. It’s just a matter of getting to the right agreement.”

Rodgers would obviously be justified in asking for $30MM fully guaranteed per season, or north of that, based on his accomplishments compared to Cousins’. The Packers’ performance with and without Rodgers during the seasons that have seen him miss time due to injuries would justify this as well. But Gutekunst does not expect the Cousins contract to impact the Packers’ proceedings just yet.

Obviously, that was a pretty significant contract, and Aaron is a very significant player to us,” Gutekunst said. “Our thought process hasn’t changed because of that contract. Where we’re headed will still be the same.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.