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Historic deal

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Anthony L. Cuaycong

Courtside

GREEN BAY PACKERS quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) rushes with the football during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field. — JEFF HANISCH-USA TODAY SPORTS

AARON Rodgers has delivered on his promise to have former teammate James Jones break the news on terms of his new contract. As the NFL Players Only analyst tweeted yesterday, the Packers and their starting quarterback have agreed to “a 4-year extension worth $33.5 million in new money…plus incentives per year…He gets over $100 million in guarantees.” Based on additional information sourced by Adam Schefter, the value of the deal could reach a whopping $180 million all told.

It’s a staggering sum, to be sure, but one that is based on Rodgers’ worth. The market has been good to sellers of late; between February and May, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins, and Matt Ryan were signed to numbers that got progressively higher and hit $30 million per annum. Around that time, the Packers were already negotiating with the two-time league Most Valuable Player, who still had two years left on a 2016 accord that then made him the highest-paid player in history. It has subsequently been topped not once, not twice, but eight times, thereby triggering the talks.

Considering the extent of the Packers’ investment, it goes without saying that they expect Rodgers to spearhead their revival this year. He missed nine games last season due to a fractured right collarbone, leading them to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009. And their confidence in him isn’t based on blind faith; his MVP campaign in 2014 sprung from a poor playoff effort off another major injury the year before. They likewise envision him to remain effective in the longer term; he will have hit the big four oh when his new agreement ends in 2023.

Needless to say, Rodgers was ecstatic in the aftermath. Just as importantly, the Packers are, too; they didn’t have to tie his compensation to the continuing rise in the salary cap, thus enabling them to plan for the future. And they know he won’t be the highest-paid in the position for long. Teams have splurged, and will continue to plunk down record greenbacks, for marquee — or even merely competent — names at center because they know it’s where their competitiveness starts and ends.

In the final analysis, the Packers had no choice. They had to ante up, and the fact that they actually limited their exposure should count as a victory for them. In any case, they have managed to retain the single most important reason for their relevance; since Rodgers became a starter in 2008, they have gone 94-48 when he suits up and 6-11-1 when he doesn’t take to the field. The stats don’t lie, and they still won’t for some time to come.

 




Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994.

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