For the next two plus days, league and team officials are gathered in Orlando for the NFL Annual Meeting. There are no players in attendance, but there is one that is a topic of conversation in the meeting rooms and the hallways, Aaron Rodgers.
One of the biggest names in the game is in line for probably the biggest contract in the game. Last month at the Scouting Combine, Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said the organization would like to get a deal done this offseason. That was before the Vikings gave Kirk Cousins the first fully guaranteed contract in the NFL; 3 years, $84 million dollars. That may have changed the landscape for QB contracts, but not the Packers’ plan.
"I'm still very optimistic we'll get a deal done (for Aaron Rodgers)," Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy said Sunday night in Orlando.
Murphy was then asked if he thinks that will still happen this offseason.
“Yes, I think so, yes," Murphy said. "Obviously, there's a lot going on with free agency, and now the league meetings; so I don't think there have been a lot of discussions recently. But I'm confident we'll work something out. I think you’ve seen in recent years and increase in the amount of guaranteed money in contracts. I think this is the first probably that I’m aware of that is guaranteed to that percentage."
But could there be more at stake for Rodgers than just the guarantee? He is in prime position to not just break the bank, but break the mold. Speculation among league observers in Orlando Sunday centered on other previously taboo contract inclusions, like a player opt-out clause, or having salary tied to a percentage of the salary cap.
“I foresee agents trying to get that, but I don’t anticipate that that will happen,” Murphy said. “We are going to do what’s best for the Packers organization in the long run. As I said before, I have confidence in Russ Ball (Packers Executive Vice President/Director of Football Operations) and also Dave Dunn, Aaron’s agent. I’m confident we will be able to work something out.”
But Rodgers can afford to wait; he has two years remaining on his current contract, and the Falcons Matt Ryan is entering his final contract year. A new extension in Atlanta could have even larger ramifications in Green Bay.