Brees’ New Deal: The Impact on Aaron Rodgers And The Packers

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Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees
Two quarterbacks, two rings and a whole lot of money

When the Green Bay Packers play the New Orleans Saints on September 30 at Lambeau Field, Aaron Rodgers needs to find Drew Brees and give him a big hug because Brees has just made a Rodgers a very rich man.

Last week Brees signed a five-year deal worth $100 million, with $40 million guaranteed for 2012 alone and $60 million guaranteed overall.  This all but ensures Brees will be a New Orleans Saint for life (though stranger things have happened, right Peyton?).

Meanwhile, Rodgers mentioned earlier in the offseason that he wanted to remain a Packer for the rest of his career.  Rodgers is under contract through 2014 with a base salary of $8 million for 2012, $9.25 for 2013 and $10.25 million for 2014 respectively.  By Brees’ standards, these are paltry numbers especially for the player ranked number one over Brees as the best player in the NFL as voted by players themselves.

Keep in mind Rodgers signed his current contract in 2008, only one year into his tenure as the Packers starting quarterback.  Rodgers showed potential despite the team’s 6-10 record, but he had not yet fully developed into the superstar we know and love today.  With his performance in 2010 and 2011, Rodgers is a relative steal at his current salary.

That’s why it’s a given Rodgers is in for one heck of a raise even without Brees’ new contract raising the bar as much as it has.  So what effect will the contract the Saints just handed to their quarterback have on Rodgers and the Packers?

Well, there are some things to keep in perspective here.  Rodgers is 28, Brees is 33.  Rodgers will likely sign two more contracts before retirement while this is very possibly the last one Brees will sign.  Even if the Packers sign Rodgers to seven year deal, he would only be 35 at the time and will likely still have more left in the tank.  Peyton Manning signed a five year deal with the Broncos which would put him at 41, though it’s unclear if Manning will actually play all five years with the uncertainty of his neck injury.

The Packers also are not one the teams in the NFL who are reckless with their checkbook.  In 2001, they signed Brett Favre to a “lifetime” extension that would pay $100 million over 10 years, averaging $10 million a season.   While that number would likely be higher in 2012 instead of 2001, it just shows how careful the Packers are with their money even when it comes to a future Hall of Fame player.  They aren’t Jerry Jones or Dan Snyder.

Then there’s also the fact that Rodgers is not the only priority contract situation the Packers are facing in the very near future.  Greg Jennings is up after 2012 and Clay Matthews and BJ Raji are up after 2013.  They also will have to revisit Jermichael Finley’s contract after 2013 as well as giving Jordy Nelson a raise should he continue the high level of play he showed in 2011.

It was muttered by many this week that Brees is the richest quarterback in the NFL….until Rodgers signs his new contract.  If that’s true, then the Packers need to tread carefully if they want to keep the entire core of their offense intact.  In theory, if Rodgers deal was five years at $125 million, then the Packers could have trouble keeping Jennings, Finley, Nelson and Matthews.  Raji is on the fence here thanks to his regression in 2011.

Packer fans need to realize that the team may not be able to hang onto their current talent pool for the long term, given the team keeps performing the way it has.  While the players may be selfless in the press and with fans, their agents are not.  They want to see their clients get top dollar for their talents and with the depth the Packers have, particularly at receiver where big contracts are the name of the game, it very well could take some incredibly shrewd negotiation by Thompson to keep everyone around.

Of course with Thompson being a firm believer in the “draft and develop” strategy, there is a possibility that he might see an upgrade at a position somewhere in the draft and may be more willing to let players go than many other NFL general managers.

This won’t be the case with Rodgers, however.  It’s clear now that Rodgers is one the most gifted quarterbacks in the game today, and possibly of all time.  He’s only entering his fifth year as the starting quarterback yet he already as the most accurate arm in the NFL and chemistry with his receivers (plural) that rivals that of some of the best quarterback/receiver tandems in the NFL.

So as 2014 approaches, what can fans expect when it comes to Rodgers’ new contract?

It is unlikely that the negotiations between Rodgers and the Packers would drag on as long as the ones between Brees and the Saints did.  Ted Thompson hates holdouts and it is hard to see Rodgers threatening a holdout from training camp like Brees did.  Then again, many didn’t think Brees would go that route either but he did.

It’s safe to say that Rodgers isn’t going anywhere.  While it’s unlikely Thompson will go with the “lifetime” extension with Rodgers like the team did with Favre,  he will likely sign his quarterback to a long-term deal that will equal or just barely surpass Brees’ should Rodgers continue his high level of play and continue to avoid injury.

It should be a smoother ride for Rodgers and the Packers.  Thompson knows how to negotiate fair contracts and the Packers won’t be embroiled in a scandal like the Saints faced this offseason.

Rodgers is going to cash in some time in the next couple years and when he does, he needs to make a stop in the Bayou to thank the man who paved the way for #12 to become a very rich man.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com.

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  • Tarynfor12

    “Rodgers is going to cash in some time in the next couple years and when he does, he needs to make a stop in the Bayou to thank the man who paved the way for #12 to become a very rich man”.

    Rodgers paves his own way and knows who to thank for his success of today and the tomorrows and Brees’ isn’t on the Rodgers to thank list for his play or his pay.

  • http://None Bearmeat

    This is exactly why it’s so tough to stay on top in the NFL. The salary cap and highly decorated vets don’t both fit in the same box very easily.

  • FireMMNow

    The key will be what the salary cap does by 2015. It appears it will be relatively flat, but there is a chance that it will go up significantly in 2015.

    Prior to the packers signing Finley to the 2 year deal, I said that long term there is not room for him on this team. CM3, Jennings and Jordy are all more valuable commodities. Athletic TEs are coming out of every draft at this point.

    There will be plenty of tough decisions to be made in the future, but there will be some significant dollars that will be off the cap by 2015 as well.

    Woodson – approx 10 million
    Saturday – 3.75 million
    Driver – 3 million
    Collins – guessing approx 6 million
    Hawk – 7.5 million (2014 season)
    Finley – 8 million
    Pickett – 6 million

    Total: 44.25 million

    All of these players will need to be replaced, but most can be replaced by cheaper options. Their replacements will most likely be draft picks which will probably cost around 10-12 million.

    It will be tight, but there is room for this team to spend some money.

    Total:

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      One thing Thompson has proven is that as good a job he does in picking personnel, he does an even better job in managing the finances and making sure the Packers are always in a workable financial position.

      • marpag

        Yes, and oftentimes these two things are really just one and the same thing. Thompson has been able to manage the cap because he’s got capable young players with rookie contracts to replace higher priced vets.

        Remember how much Thompson got bashed for letting Wahle and Rivera go? Both left for totally ridiculous contracts, but Rivera was a complete bust in Dallas, and Wahle had only one good year for Carolina.

        Darren Sharper got away to New Orleans? Hello, Nick Collins. That was an upgrade.

        Trade Javon Walker. Draft Greg Jennings. That’s so far above an “upgrade” I don’t know what to call it.

        Draft ARod, dump the ol’ gunslinger. I know people are emotional about it, but it was just plain smart, dammit.

        Also, I gotta add one thing. Thompson keeps the cap in order by NOT SIGNING FREE AGENTS. Fans don’t like it, of course, but 95 times out of 100, FAs are salary cap poison. But still almost no one will ever praise Thompson for steering clear of free agency, even though they should.

        • http://None Bearmeat

          Well said. Best post of the day right there.

        • FireMMNow

          i have always thought letting wahle go was a mistake. he was young and definitely had more than one good season for carolina. the salary cap skyrocketed in the years after the release of wahle. rivera was a good move, but he should have kept wahle.

          • marpag

            I’ll admit that reasonable people can disagree about Wahle, but I’d definitely take the other side of it.

            Wahle went to the pro-bowl in his first year with Carolina, 2005, the ONLY pro-bowl of his whole career. Carolina chose to cut him after the 2007 season. He played only 10 games (for Seattle) in 2008 before going on IR to end his career.

            That’s only half the picture. How much did he cost? At the time, I remember how people were aghast that a guard was getting “left tackle money.” People were even asking if Carolina planned to play him at tackle. Why else would they pay him like one?

            So which other player(s) might the Packers have been unable to sign if they had sunk all that money into Wahle? Does it make sense to spend “left tackle money” on a “one-pro-bowl-guard” who will be out of the league in three and a half years?

            Seems to me that Thompson made a good call, even if it did take him a while to find a decent replacement.

      • Oppy

        Thompson may pick ‘em and point out
        ones to keep, but you have to give guys like Andrew Brandt, and of course, now Russ Ball the credit for keeping the finances all nice, neat, and manageable.

  • Ron LC

    They will have to pay AR what the market will bear. The real trick will be balancing the rest within the Cap. As some of the 1st and 2nd year guys develop more of the higher paid vets will be at risk.

    Let’s hope the inflow is good enough to maintain the overall team quality. So far, and I believe into the future, AR will be a team player. There will be a floor that he will accept but he wants to have talent surrounding him too. I expect that signing Jennings will be a clue of the approach to what AR will be shooting for.

    A fast and uncomplicated negotiation with Greg will indicate AR’s signing will not be far behind. Not signing Greg means things could get complicated.

  • John

    “it just shows how careful the Packers are with their money even when it comes to a future Hall of Fame player”

    Wasn’t Brett the first $100 million dollar man? I’m confused to the point the author was making when comparing Brett’s signing for $100 million at age 32 and how that is being ‘careful’!

    • http://None Bearmeat

      Because the dongslinger was not signed by Ted Thompson. Ever.

      That was Mike Sherman, and his GM idiocy right there. Remember Joe Johnson? No? It’s because he sucked. And the Sherminator gave him like 32 mil over 4 years – and then cut him after 1.

  • Chad Lundberg

    Aaron Rodgers has 100 times more class than Brees, we all know this because of how he handled the media during the great betrayal.

    Brees plays with a group that paid each other to hurt other players, while the Packers have one of the classiest teams in the NFL with the exception of Jermichael Finley.

    There is every reason to believe that Rodgers will sign what Thompson offers him, and doesn’t holdout on the team like a the little bitch that Darrel Revis or Drew Brees is.

  • Big T

    brees is the biggest whiny azz biatch in football. I have never seen a bigger chump than him. Please from now on do not put his name in the same paragraph as Rodgers. Its high class vs. jackwagon

  • Oppy

    I really think Aaron Rodgers is going to sign a contract that is handsome but very reasonable- hometown discount type deal.

    Why? Because Rodgers wants to WIN, first and foremost, and he LOVES his guys. He’s a team player.

    He understands that if the scales tip too far in his direction, that means that a Greg Jennings, a Jermichael Finley, a Clay Matthews, a Tramon Williams, a BJ Raji… Will not be affordable. And that means the team will weaken.

    I’m pretty sure Rodgers actually offered to take a pay cut if it meant the Packers could re-sign James Jones.. That’s just Rodgers.