Aaron Rodgers tried for unusual NFL contract before signing record deal
A day after becoming the highest-paid player in NFL history for the second time in his career, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he explored the possibility of a uniquely structured deal before receiving a more traditional contract.
Rodgers was asked on a conference call with reporters Thursday, Aug. 30, if he sought out a deal more like an NBA contract, with compensation tied to a team's salary cap or the use of player options to give the player more leverage. He said he and his agent, David Dunn, discussed various possibilities but found "there wasn't a lot of wiggle room in that area."
"Those were all definitely talked about, and they were in the discussion," Rodgers said. "Ultimately, I don't think the NFL is ready for those type of contracts and willing to go in some of those directions. The number of players on the active roster and counting salary cap is definitely a hindrance to some of that stuff."
While Rodgers' four-year extension is massive—setting records for annual average ($32.5 million), guarantees ($103 million) and signing bonus ($57.5 million)—it ultimately followed a traditional NFL contract structure. Rodgers' large signing bonus allows the Packers to spread his cap hit over a number of seasons. But the minimal creativity in terms of structure was not for a lack of trying on Rodgers' part.
Later in Thursday's call, Rodgers again brought up the idea of a less traditional deal, while discussing the importance of negotiating a contract with benchmarks that would benefit other players down the line.
"Obviously this is a potential last or second-to-last contract for myself in my career, and wanting to think about my legacy, you know, contract is a part of that for sure," Rodgers said. "So it was definitely something Dave and I talked about and why we were exploring a nontraditional type of deal that could help change some of the future contracts.
"...There just wasn't a lot of leeway to do some of that stuff."
Rodgers' new deal runs through 2023, the year in which he will turn 40, and he has been vocal about his desire to finish his career with the Packers. The extension was a significant step toward that goal, but the quarterback isn't assuming his job will be as secure near the end of his contract as it is now.
Asked if he was motivated to get an extension done after seeing his predecessor, Brett Favre, end his Packers career with an ugly divorce, Rodgers responded, "I mean I don't think this guarantees anything, other than maybe the first three years of the deal."
"To get to the end of the contract would be sustained, consistent play, so that's the most important thing," he continued. "...If it could happen to Favre, it could happen to any of us."
That said, Rodgers is intent on continuing to play at a high level at age 40, 19 years after the Packers took him in the first round of the 2005 draft. He said that Wednesday proved nostalgic once he signed the deal and took the time to look back at his time in Green Bay.
"Knowing that this deal takes me to 40 years old, and I was drafted when I was 21, and knowing how much life happened and has happened between those years," Rodgers said. "I've grown up, and like I said, I've grown older in an area, this city, this region, this state. And it has been a really, really fun ride."