Aaron Rodgers

Draft Notes: Remaining QBs, Jets, Vikings, Burks, Johnson

One of the main storylines from last night’s first round was the fact that only one quarterback came off the board. The Steelers have their preferred choice in Kenny Pickett, but the other top options likely won’t have to wait long to hear their names called.

Jeff Howe of the Athletic reports (via Twitter) that “several teams” are trying to move up in the second round. As a result, there is “anticipation that a QB run could be on the way”. A number of teams could be interested in adding the likes of Malik Willis, Sam Howell, Desmond Ridder and Matt Corral as intriguing developmental options.

On that point, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer names the Titans, Falcons, Seahawks and Commanders as teams to watch for. He reports that “Ridder’s name has been consistently connected to Tennessee”, who now holds the 35th overall pick. The other teams have done significant work on signal-callers as well. Perhaps eyeing a passer, the Seahawks have made “exploratory calls” about moving up tonight, per CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson (Twitter link).

Here are some other notes looking back on last night:

  • The Jets, as it has been reported, were willing to part with the No. 10 pick for Deebo Samuel. They almost made a different deal with that selection, though, as detailed by ESPN’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). New York wanted to swap with Seattle for No. 9 to avoid a team leapfrogging them to select Garrett Wilson. Both teams were able to successfully stand pat, ultimately getting Charles Cross and Wilson, respectively.
  • Not long after the top-10 was complete, the Vikings ceded the 12th overall pick to the Lions. With their second first-rounder, Detroit selected Jameson Williams, who may have been the pick at that spot had Minnesota kept it. Breer reports that the Alabama receiver “was very much in play ” for the Vikings, who added Lewis Cine and two Day 2 picks as a result of the deal.
  • Another of the top receivers to be taken last night was Treylon Burks, whom the Titans selected as a replacement for A.J. BrownWhen speaking to Pat McAfee, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the Arkansas alum “was the guy Aaron Rodgers wanted” (video link). With him off the board, the Packers extended their streak of not using a Round 1 pick on a wideout, but he reports that they are a candidate to trade up for one tonight (video link).
  • One of the most surprising fallers on Thursday night was pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II. Part of the reason he was still on the board for the Jets at No. 25, Breer notes, was poor interviews with teams in the pre-draft process. Thought by some as a top-10 pick, he ended up with the Jets anyway, and figures to serve as a notable boost to their pass rush.

NFC Notes: Packers, Cousins, Seahawks, Kaepernick

Following the mass exodus of the Packers’ staff this offseason, longtime NFL quarterbacks coach Tom Clements received a phone call from his old player, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, as reported by Ryan Wood of Packers News.

Rodgers had just watched the dissolution of the Packers’ 2021 coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett departed to Denver for a head coaching position. Passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy took an offensive coordinator job for the rival Bears.

Clements was enjoying retirement, looking forward to heading into Year 2 of armchair quarterbacking like the rest of us. Clements claimed he “didn’t have the itch to come back,” but after conversations with Rodgers and Packers head coach Matt LeFleur, Clements found himself back in the NFL, returning to his longest tenured home from his first stint in coaching.

Here are a few other notes from around the NFC, starting with another note from the North:

  • Following a shiny new deal from the Vikings, quarterback Kirk Cousins appears content to finish his NFL career in Minnesota, according to The Athletic’s Chad Graff. Cousins certainly didn’t need an early extension. He set an example years ago for how a player can bet on himself, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to be franchise-tagged in consecutive years then signing the league’s first ever (and highest at the time) fully-guaranteed contract. Despite this history, Cousins agreed to a deal that freed up some cap space for Minnesota. When asked why he agreed to this deal, Cousins simply stated, “The short answer is: I want to be a Minnesota Viking.”
  • Jason La Canfora wrote a piece Friday asserting his belief that two quarterbacks will go in the Top 10 picks of the 2022 NFL Draft, notably that he expects Atlanta and Carolina to select one of Liberty’s Malik Willis or Pitt’s Kenny Pickett. If either NFC South franchise ends up addressing another position, though, La Canfora expects Seattle to fulfill his prediction with the No. 9 overall pick. Should neither quarterback be available to the Seahawks, several executives believe that Seattle would trade back, allowing teams who are hungry to select a specific prospect to relinquish some of their draft capital while keeping alive the Seahawks ability to draft a value-player without reaching.
  • Should Seattle not find a quarterback in the Draft, one option they’ve kicked the tires on is former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick hasn’t played since January of 2017, but has stayed in shape amidst lawsuits and accusations against the NFL that settled in 2019. A connection was reported with the Seahawks in March after some comments from head coach Pete Carroll. Carroll gave an update, as reported by USA Today’s Scooby Axson, saying that, while not much has progressed in terms of a contract, Carroll notices the work Kaepernick has put in and admires the 34-year-old’s desire to compete. No deal seems imminent, but Kaepernick remains a possibility should Seattle strike out in the Draft later this month.

Packers GM Discusses Aaron Rodgers’ Future With Team

Aaron Rodgers‘ record-breaking four-year, $200MM extension was intended to provide the QB with flexibility on a year-by-year basis. While Rodgers could theoretically walk away from the deal and join another organization, general manager Brian Gutekunst is naturally hoping the franchise QB will spend the rest of his career in Green Bay.

[RELATED: Aaron Rodgers’ Last Season In Green Bay?]

“We’d certainly like to,” Gutekunst said when asked if he believes Rodgers will retire with the Packers (via Ryan Wood of PackersNews.com). “I think that’s certainly one of the goals of his. I don’t want to speak for him, but I think that was kind of part of the scenario we thought when we moved through this process.”

At one point last year, it sounded like Rodgers’ tenure with the Packers was about to come to an end. However, as Gutekunst detailed, the organization worked with the quarterback to resolve any differences while also making sure to provide the player with his space.

“We had a lot of conversations right after the season,” Gutekunst said, “and he kind of took some time to go through things and make sure that he wanted to commit to the significant time and effort he puts into preparing for the season. Once he got through that, that time, I think we found out probably shortly before the rest of the world found out.”

Gutekunst also explained how he made an effort to better involve Rodgers in transactions, and that especially included the blockbuster trade of Davante Adams. Ultimately, Adams was dealt to the Raiders for a first- and second-round pick, and the GM was sure there was no way to change his wideout’s mind regarding his desire to play elsewhere.

“Not at the end of the day,” Gutekunst said (via Wood). “Those are really tough decisions. To lose a player of his caliber, and what he’s done for the organization, those are hard decisions and hard things to move on from. At the same time, I think once we got through the discussions with Davante after the season, this is what was best for the organization and Davante going forward.”

Aaron Rodgers’ Last Season In Green Bay?

When Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers signed his historic extension about two weeks ago, the general consensus was that Rodgers was expected to retire after the 2024 NFL season. Well, according to Matt Schneidman of The Athletic, former Packers’ executive Andrew Brandt, along with another source close to the situation, believes the contract is essentially a one-year deal for $42MM

A quick reminder, Rodgers’ contract is classified as a three-year, $150.82MM deal that is completely guaranteed. While the contract technically covers the next five seasons, the 2025 and 2026 years of the contract are considered to be dummy years assisting the Packers with cap management. The deal provided “new money” to Rodgers in the amount of $123.52MM over the two new additional years of 2023 and 2024.

In defense of his opinion, Brandt wrote, “Next year there are two guaranteed option bonuses, but these bonuses 1) have to be exercised by the Packers, and 2) would travel to a new team upon any trade. And with this option bonus structure, the dead money actually goes up the longer the contract goes on.”

If Rodgers retires or is traded before next year’s option, the Packers would be left with about $40MM of dead money with an essentially off-setting $59MM in nonexercised bonuses. Brandt explains, “if he were to play again for the Packers (in 2023), the dead money would rise to never-before-seen proportions.” Also supporting Brandt’s opinion is the cap effect of the extension. While the extension does decrease Rodgers’ cap hit by $18.2MM for the 2022 season, his cap hit for 2023 increases approximately $23.9MM from a previously voidable year and his 2024 cap number will total $40.7MM.

In Brandt’s eyes, all these numbers were not only visible to the Packers and Rodgers’ agent, they were negotiated that way. He sees it as an intentional manipulation of the numbers to make the veteran quarterback happy for a year and then move on. This would give back up quarterback Jordan Love a third year of development before he takes the reins. Coincidentally, that would be the same amount of time Rodgers waited before taking over for Brett Favre 15 years ago.

Latest On Seahawks-Broncos’ Russell Wilson Trade

Although the Broncos have been in need at quarterback for six years, GM George Paton said Seahawks GM John Schneider initiated the Russell Wilson trade talks. A Schneider text to Paton got the ball rolling on the trade at the Senior Bowl, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post notes.

Schneider expected the Broncos to be interested, and the talks heated up at the Combine. While Denver was also linked to Aaron Rodgers for nearly a year, Paton said Wilson was the team’s No. 1 priority throughout the offseason. The Broncos planned to do “anything it took” to acquire Wilson, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com tweets. The deal sent the Seahawks five draft picks and three players, including quarterback Drew Lock, who as of now figures to factor in prominently in Seattle’s post-Wilson QB plans.

The Seahawks’ official statements, while complimentary of the nine-time Pro Bowler overall, included interesting language. All three indicated the quarterback wanting out catalyzed the trade. Jody Allen‘s statement said Wilson “made it clear” he wanted a change, with the owner’s short message also saying she hopes the next Seahawks squad will be “fully engaged.” (A previous report by The Athletic included select anonymous players accusing Wilson of checking out last season, which seems to conflict with the QB’s quest to return earlier than expected from thumb surgery.) Pete Carroll‘s statement backed Allen’s, as could be expected, and said Wilson “wanted something different.”

Wilson called the separation mutual, and Schneider said Wednesday he did not expect the future Hall of Fame passer to sign another Seahawks extension, via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson (on Twitter). Wilson’s 2019 extension expires after the 2023 season, though the Broncos will be expected to re-sign him either this offseason or in 2023.

A conversation with Paton and Wilson’s faith in the Broncos’ roster prompted him to waive his no-trade clause and target Denver as a destination, O’Halloran adds, and Paton said the Broncos’ new quarterback was already en route to Denver when news of Rodgers’ extension surfaced last week. John Elway, who is now a Broncos consultant after 10 years as the team’s GM and one in a different executive role, was one of the few people Paton brought into the loop on the prospective Wilson trade.

In landing the 33-year-old Wilson, the Broncos will presumably have a longer run with this particular trade acquisition than they did with Peyton Manning or would have with Rodgers. Wilson is still planning to play past age 40.

Latest On Aaron Rodgers’ Extension With Packers

Aaron Rodgers has officially signed his record-breaking extension with the Packers, and we’re getting more clarity on the mind-numbing numbers.

Rodgers will earn $150.815MM over the next three years ($42MM in ’22, $59.5MM in ’23, $49.3MM in ’24), with the next two years fully guaranteed (per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter). As NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets, the expectation is that Rodgers would retire after that 2024 campaign. If he decides to continue playing, the final two years of the deal (stemming from the four-year extension, five years total) would need to be reworked.

As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com notes, Rodgers will see $123.52MM in “new money” on the extension, translating to a “new money average” of $61.7MM (considering the additions of 2023 and 2024, coupled with the 2025 and 2026 dummy years). As Florio points out, that’s a significant jump from the previous-high of $45MM per year.

Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweeted out a helpful guide on how Rodgers’ extension will impact the Packers’ cap over the next three years:

  • 2022: $28.5MM cap number (down from $46.7MM)
  • 2023: $31.6MM cap number (up from $7.7MM on a previously voidable year)
  • 2024: $40.7MM cap number

QB Fallout: Packers, Rodgers, Broncos, Wilson, Seahawks, Steelers, Panthers

Although the timing is rather conspicuous, the Broncosmove to acquire Russell Wilson may not be closely connected to Aaron Rodgersdecision to stay with the Packers. Denver did not engage with Green Bay on Rodgers this offseason, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports. The Broncos had been connected to Rodgers for nearly a year, when the then-disgruntled superstar included them on a list of acceptable trade destinations ahead of the 2021 draft. A previous report indicated Denver and Green Bay had trade terms lined up, in the event Rodgers informed the Packers he wanted out, but Schefter’s account would appear to contradict that. It does seem the Broncos were still eyeing Rodgers this year, with 9News’ Mike Klis reporting the team wanted to exit the offseason with either Wilson or Rodgers (Twitter link). After the Combine produced considerable buzz connecting Rodgers to a Green Bay return, Klis adds the Broncos and Seahawks’ Wilson talks accelerated. The clubs had been discussing Wilson for weeks. As such, it probably was not a coincidence both QB headlines occurred within hours of each other.

Here is the latest from an explosive day on the quarterback scene:

  • Wilson made noise about his Seahawks situation in 2021, and Schefter notes those comments irked some within the organization. Wilson continued to say he wanted to stay in Seattle, but Schefter adds he planned to revisit some issues he had with the Seahawks at some point this offseason. The perennial Pro Bowler, however, did not try to force his way out of Seattle this year, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. The Seahawks kept Wilson in the loop on their talks with the Broncos, Breer adds. They certainly needed to run it by him, given the no-trade clause included in Wilson’s 2019 extension.
  • The Broncos not only topped Wilson’s destination list, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com indicates they were the only team he wanted to be traded to this year. Denver does not have receivers who have proven as much as Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf, but the team is deep at that position and employs promising running back Javonte Williams. Ex-Wilson Wisconsin teammate Melvin Gordon is on the radar to return as well. Wilson’s agent named the Bears, Raiders, Saints and Cowboys as acceptable trade destinations for his client last year, but the Broncos emerged as a candidate late in 2021. The Broncos passed on Wilson in 2012, taking Brock Osweiler in the second round, but the Colorado Rockies did draft him in 2010.
  • Denver will keep one of its two 2022 second-rounders, sending Seattle its own 2022 and ’23 Round 2 picks, Mike Klis of 9News notes. The Broncos will retain the second-rounder they obtained in last year’s Von Miller trade (No. 64 overall). The fourth-rounder Seattle is sending to Denver is a 2022 pick, Schefter tweets. The Broncos also have two third-rounders this year, the latter of which acquired in the Miller deal. Miller is rumored to be back on the Broncos’ radar. Tuesday’s Wilson trade probably will not quiet those rumblings, though Klis suggests the longtime Bronco edge rusher is likely to end up elsewhere (Twitter link).
  • The Steelers were connected to Rodgers last week, but ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes they were not believed to be major players on this trail (ESPN+ link). Bridge-type passers like Jameis Winston, Mitchell Trubisky and previous Broncos starter Teddy Bridgewater are believed to be on Pittsburgh’s radar.
  • More than a dozen teams were believed to have contacted the Seahawks on Wilson, per Schefter. The Panthers, who have longtime Seahawks exec Scott Fitterer as GM, were among those to do so, Joe Person of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Carolina is still in the market for a quarterback. Considering the interest the team showed in Deshaun Watson last year, more rumors connecting these two parties figure to surface in the coming weeks. The Panthers remain interested, though Watson’s 2022 availability remains in doubt.

Aaron Rodgers Agrees To Extension In Green Bay

1:50PM: The Aaron Rodgers saga has apparently reached a conclusion. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that he has signed a four-year, $200MM extension with the Packers (Twitter link). Rodgers himself has tweeted a rebuttal to the reported deal, though he confirms that he is staying in Green Bay.

The $50MM per-year average will indeed make the reigning MVP the highest-paid player in NFL history, something which had been reported in the build-up to today’s news. Rapoport adds that the deal includes $153MM in guaranteed money, and will lower his 2022 cap hit.

12:37PM: In a follow-up, Rapoport reports that Rodgers’ 2022 cap hit is set to go “way down”, and that in 2023, it won’t rank in the top ten amongst QBs (video link).

Rapoport’s colleague Tom Pelissero adds that the 38-year-old “figures to be year-to-year” until he decides to retire (Twitter link). With this extension signed, it is now all but a certainty he will end up having played exclusively for the Packers, regardless of when he hangs up his cleats.

Rodgers had been the center of speculation on a number of fronts throughout the offseason, as retirement and trades to AFC teams – especially the Broncos – were named as distinct possibilities. The hiring of Nathaniel Hackett in Denver in particular was thought to be one of the reasons Denver was fully committed to bringing in Rodgers, and in doing so ending their own search for a franchise QB dating back to Peyton Manning‘s retirement.

Reporting then focused more on the specific actions taken by the Packers to accommodate not only Rodgers’ contract wishes, but also to manufacture the needed cap space to keep him and pending free agent Davante Adams. Through a series of restructures, along with the particular details of this new contract, the team should be able to field a team similar in strength to the one which earned the NFC’s No.1 seed in 2021. It had been reported recently that the team was intending to keep 2020 first rounder Jordan Love; today’s deal may change the organization’s stance on that front.

With the biggest domino in the QB market – and the offseason as a whole – now having fallen, attention will turn to other big names such as Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and Allen Robinson. Plenty of other big moves are likely to be made involving at least some of those names. For the Packers, at least, the Super Bowl window will remain open for the near future.

AFC West Notes: Mathieu, Broncos, Raiders

As expected, the Chiefs prioritized Orlando Brown Jr. as their top free agent. Kansas City tagged its left tackle, which will likely lead Tyrann Mathieu to free agency. It is not a lock Mathieu departs Missouri; the Chiefs met with his camp at the Combine. But the All-Pro safety is expected to test the market, Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Mathieu will turn 30 this offseason, but he had a transformative effect on a Chiefs defense that was one of the NFL’s worst before his 2019 signing. The nine-year veteran should do very well for himself on the market. Mathieu’s Chiefs tenure re-established his value, with it coming after the Cardinals cut bait on his extension in 2018. The Honey Badger, who came to Kansas City after playing on a one-year deal in Houston in 2018, made two All-Pro teams on his three-year, $42MM Chiefs contract. Mathieu joins Marcus Williams and Quandre Diggs as the top safeties available. The Bengals tagged Jessie Bates on Monday, keeping him off the market.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Brown will not sign his franchise tender until he decides on representation, and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets the four-year veteran is considering acting as his own agent. This should not be too surprising, given Brown’s quest to move away from right tackle and establish himself as a high-end left tackle. Brown will earn $16.662MM on the tag this season, unless he and the Chiefs agree to an extension by July 15. A Brown re-up would help the Chiefs on the cap front. While moves can be made, including another adjustment to Patrick Mahomes‘ team-friendly contract, the Chiefs are $5MM over the cap after Brown’s tag.
  • A BroncosAaron Rodgers trade would be quite costly, though Denver’s high volume of post-Peyton Manning quarterbacks does well to convey the team’s desperation here. A Denver deal for Rodgers would cost the team at least two first-round picks and a Pro Bowl-caliber player on a manageable contract, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes, adding that the Broncos should be prepared to give Rodgers a record-breaking extension like the Packers are. The Broncos should also be expected to include a second-round pick, Mike Klis of 9News writes. The Broncos have Jerry Jeudy and Bradley Chubb as potential trade chips in this scenario, while productive wideout Tim Patrick is tethered to a $10MM-per-year extension. Denver holds four Day 2 picks this year (two seconds, two thirds), the extra two coming by way of its Von Miller trade. Miller is on the radar to rejoin the team as a free agent.
  • With Justin Herbert tied to his rookie deal through at least 2022, the Chargers have an opportunity this offseason. They are a team to watch for a splashy cornerback addition, with Garafolo tweeting they could be in the mix for J.C. Jackson or Stephon Gilmore. The Patriots may actually be ready to let Jackson hit the market, and Rapoport notes (video link) Gilmore should be expected to test free agency after playing out his Patriots-constructed contract. The Panthers would still like to retain Gilmore, but it will be costly. Gilmore will turn 32 in September.
  • Ex-Josh McDaniels Patriots coworker Jerry Schuplinski is now on the Raiders‘ staff as a senior offensive assistant. A Pats staffer from 2013-18, Schuplinski was the Giants’ QBs coach the past two seasons. The Raiders have also hired ex-Jaguars DBs coach Chris Ash to the same position, added ex-Packers special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton as their assistant ST coach and hired Cameron Clemmons as their assistant O-line coach. Additionally, Las Vegas is keeping Jon Gruden‘s son, Deuce, on staff as a strength and conditioning assistant.

Packers Offer Aaron Rodgers Record-Setting Extension

Time is running out for the Packers, who have less than 24 hours to use their franchise tag on Davante Adams. It would certainly help the defending NFC North champions if the two-time reigning MVP gave them a definitive answer on his 2022 plans. Aaron Rodgers has said he intends to do so by Tuesday, and the Packers are giving the future Hall of Famer more to consider.

Thought to be torn on a decision to stay in Green Bay, Rodgers has now received an offer Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports would reset the quarterback market. Specifics are light, but the price would come in above Patrick Mahomes‘ $45MM-per-year contract. While Rodgers refuted the report he is seeking a $50MM-AAV deal, Fowler’s report of a market-altering extension would seemingly be in line with that previous situational assessment.

A three- or four-year pact would help the Packers with their cap. They are currently $27MM over; an Adams tag would cost $18.4MM. Although teams have until next week to move under the cap, the Packers are cutting it close with their two best players. Rodgers is tied to a $46.1MM cap number in 2022, which is second only to Matt Ryan‘s NFL-record $48.7MM figure. Rodgers announcing he wants to stay would mean that cap figure would be dramatically reduced. His current $33.5MM-per-year contract expires after the 2022 season.

[RELATED: Packers GM Never Promised To Trade Rodgers]

Green Bay has been rumored to be offering Rodgers a monster extension, and Fowler notes VP of football ops Russ Ball has been in talks with Rodgers’ agent. This comes after an offseason in which Rodgers, amid a feud with GM Brian Gutekunst and team president Mark Murphy, requested a trade. After Rodgers’ fourth MVP season (second-most all time), the Packers would prefer he stay. While they are not planning to take calls on Jordan Love, a Rodgers extension would presumably change that.

It is not a lock Rodgers accepts. Other teams will be willing to pay up as well. One looms in Denver. The Broncos remain in the mix here, with Fowler adding they are prepared to trade necessary draft capital to land Rodgers. The Steelers are believed to have inquired about trading for Rodgers, but Fowler adds the Packers have set such a high price — one that would include key young players as well as draft picks — assembling such a proposal would be difficult for teams to execute.

While the Steelers have an immediate quarterback need, the Broncos have been desperate here since Peyton Manning‘s retirement six years ago. Rodgers joining Denver would, like Manning’s move 10 years ago, vault the team onto the Super Bowl contender tier. The Broncos hold $39.4MM in cap space, and Pro Football Talk reported recently they have a trade package ready. The Broncos have been connected to Rodgers for nearly a year, when they appeared on his initial destination list in April 2021. Although Rodgers does not have a no-trade clause, it is highly unlikely a team would trade for him without knowing if he would sign off on the move.