Cory’s Corner: Aaron Rodgers would relish unlimited contracts

Recently, there was some talk about the NBA going to unlimited contracts.

Players playing a contract without limits.

Then I thought about the NFL. I’ve always said that the quarterback is the most important position in sports, so how much would an elite quarterback get?

Last April, Aaron Rodgers inked a five-year $110 million contract extension. But his base salary doesn’t reach double digits until he makes $11.5 million in 2016 and tops out at $20 million in 2019.

If the NFL had unlimited contracts, I would argue that Rodgers would be worth well north of $20 million. He will be in his prime for another seven to eight years and he has claimed the sport’s top prize already.

And if you don’t think Rodgers could fetch $30 million or even $40 million a season, think again. Guess who has the top base salary for 2014? None other than Jay Cutler.

Now, Cutler isn’t a bad quarterback. Far from it. But, I’d say that he’s a long ways from an elite one. He only owns a 58-51 starting record and he’s only been over .500 three times in his career. Yet, he is the top base salary earner this year.

The next two this year are Eli and Peyton Manning. Those are understandable. They both have claimed Super Bowls and have done marvelous things for their teams and the league.

But sitting in fourth place is the oft-injured Sam Bradford. He has only played a full season twice in five tries.

I know a lot of people balked when Rodgers signed his deal. Many thought he was holding the franchise hostage by not being able to sign anyone else. Well, how do you think the folks in St. Louis feel? The Rams drafted Bradford in 2010 and he hasn’t done anything that deserves a highlight or a footnote.

But would you rather stare deep into the mirror and give Rodgers exactly what he is worth or let him go and risk him turning into a Hall of Famer and the face of the NFL while wearing a different helmet? Or not sign him for fear of the limited weapons that would be spent to keep him thriving?

Obviously, if the NFL had unlimited contracts, teams would need to get a higher percentage of the $4 billion in television rights fees. But even with a larger chunk of the pie, I doubt that teams like Green Bay, Kansas City and Jacksonville would like such a decision. They are not blessed with booming metro populations like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia or Dallas — which in turn allow for more expensive prices helping to defray the high sticker cost of talented players.

Rodgers has been inconsistent this year. He is struggling with understanding his receivers as that group falls into their designated roles. The offensive line hasn’t been the same unit he worked with for much of camp.

But he has been able to get past all those things. He was focused in on Jordy Nelson to start the year but now he’s shifting his gaze to other wideouts. At the beginning of the year, the offensive line looked shaky and often flimsy, but now it’s one of the stronger units in the game.

I think it’s absurd that pro athletes make obscene amounts of money. But it’s not their fault that they make more than the gross domestic product of Malawi. They are simply taking advantage of what the market can afford to give them.

And since the NFL has its sights set on $25 billion in yearly revenue, $40 million would be that little something for the effort.



Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn


9 thoughts on “Cory’s Corner: Aaron Rodgers would relish unlimited contracts

  1. Jay Cutler the highest paid QB??? Love them Bears. Not the brightest bulbs in the pack are they. As long as Jay is at the helm the opposing team has a chance to win.

    1. If I’m starting a new NFL franchise and I have my pick of any QB in football, I’m choosing between AROD and Andrew Luck. That means they are both worth top dollar. AROD would be even more valuable if GB surrounded him with talent like John Elway does Peyton. A good GM would have GB in the hunt for a SB every year instead of a perennial one and done team. Just saying.

      1. Except that the talent surrounding Peyton got destroyed in the Super Bowl. They weren’t competitive on any level.

  2. Base salary is only part of AR’s contract, and this article is a little misleading. AR is well paid (better than Cutler), and he is well worth it. I’d rather pay Rodgers $23m/year than Cutler at $18m-20m/year, any day of the week.

      1. But leaving out a $35 million signing bonus suggested that Cutler’s deal was better than Rodgers’, which it isn’t. That said, I agree with your premise, that we’re getting a good deal for AR’s services, especially compared to the nearly-as-big deals for Cutler or Flacco. Would you rather pay $20 million for Flacco or $23 million for Rodgers? And without a salary cap, the hit would be much, much worse.

        1. In fact, signing bonus money is FAR BETTER for a player than base salary, because signing bonus is up front and guaranteed. Base salary is neither.

  3. I’d rather see the money go to the players than the greedy, tax evading owners. Screw them, i’m with the players every time!

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