GREEN BAY, Wis. — Just because the Green Bay Packers haven’t restructured or extended Aaron Rodgers‘ contract does not mean they won’t in the coming days either before this week’s draft or in the coming months before the season starts.
That’s where general manager Brian Gutekunst left things on Monday.
Gutekunst and salary-cap guru Russ Ball have spent the winter and spring reworking deals in order to create salary-cap space to re-sign running back Aaron Jones, who would have been one of the marquee free agents, and keep much of the team together that played in the NFC Championship Game for the second straight season.
But they have not touched Rodgers’ contract — yet.
“That’s kind of something we’re working through,” Gutekunst said. “You know, it’s something that we’ve talked about quite a bit as we’ve worked through this salary-cap situation, which is really kind of a two-year situation. We’ve looked at a lot of different things and that’s one of them.”
Rodgers has no more guaranteed money left on the $134 million extension he signed in 2018 that runs through the 2023 season.
“Aaron’s our guy; he’s going to be our quarterback for the foreseeable future,” Gutekunst added. “We’re excited about the kind of the things we’re going to try to accomplish here over the next couple years. So we certainly think with the contract that you’re kind of talking about is something we’ll work through. We’re going to have to do probably a few things with different contracts as we head toward the season and then through the season to make sure that our salary cap situation, not only this year, but in 2022 is square. So we’re not done yet. We’ve done a lot to get here. We’ve kind of been doing things as we go and we will continue to do that as we go.”
Rodgers has questioned his future with the organization at various points in the past year, ever since the Packers drafted quarterback Jordan Love at No. 26 overall. Late in what would become his third career MVP season, he called his future a “beautiful mystery,” and after the season included himself in comments about players with uncertain futures with the team.
Earlier this month on the “Pat McAfee Show,” Rodgers said nothing has changed in that regard.
“I think we’re exactly where we were last year when I made comments after the draft and throughout the season,” Rodgers told McAfee. “I don’t feel like any of that has changed. Even my comments directly after the last game — and we talked about it on this show — some thought or made assumptions based on what I said, but nothing’s really changed. My future is, really, a lot of it is out of my control. That’s why I’ve used the phrase like ‘beautiful mystery,’ because it is quite uncertain which direction things are going to go.”
As recently as last month, Packers president Mark Murphy would not comment on where things stood between the organization and Rodgers. When asked about the relationship between the two parties, Gutekunst said: “I think I understand your question. I’m not really sure exactly where you’re coming from, but what I will say is we’re really excited about Aaron Rodgers and his future with the Green Bay Packers. We think he’s going to be our quarterback for the foreseeable future.”
The Packers restructured six veteran contracts this offseason just to get under the cap when the new league year opened in March.
“We’re going to be in kind of the same situation next year as we are this year with trying to continue to push more money out to field our team,” Gutekunst said. “I think we had to do a lot of things to bring guys back this year and we’ll have to do that again. So we’re not done by any means yet and we are working through that with a number of our players, including Aaron.”
Still, the Packers could move on from Rodgers, 37, after this season and save up to $25 million on their salary cap. At this point, their top eight players under contract for next season count for $161.14 million on their 2022 cap. Even if the salary cap jumps from $182.5 million this season to $200 million next season, it still would mean the Packers have more than 80% of their cap tied up in those eight players. And that doesn’t include receiver Davante Adams, who is entering his final season, or cornerback Jaire Alexander (who Gutekunst said Monday will have his fifth-year option exercised).
“I think that obviously every year there’s different things you go through to kind of get to the season, and I think we’re going through those right now whether it be contractually or whether it be working with our players on other things, and that’s where we are,” Gutekunst said. “Again, he’s such a unique, different player than anyone that I’ve ever been around. He affects our organization in so many different ways that you just can’t value him because he’s so important to what we do. We’re excited moving forward and we’ll kind of see where things go.
“It’s very important for us to work through the next two years to get this salary-cap thing right. We will have to address many contracts over the next four or five months to kind of get under the cap for the season and [Rodgers’ contract] is certainly one we will probably address as well.”