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How Aaron Rodgers’ Decision Impacts the Packers and the Rest of the NFL

How Aaron Rodgers’ Decision Impacts the Packers and the Rest of the NFL

While it was announced that Aaron Rodgers has decided re-sign as a member of the Green Bay Packers today on a 4-year, $200M deal with $153M fully guaranteed that secures him as the highest paid player in NFL history, per Ian Rapoport, Rodgers took to twitter to personally denounce the reported terms from the media, but did confirm that he will be back in Green Bay.

Before the 2020 NFL season, the Packers’ choice to select quarterback Jordan Love with their 2020 1st round pick rather than another puzzle piece to add to their championship-contending roster, presumably maddening Aaron Rodgers. Love would be a healthy scratch for the entirety of his rookie season, while Rodgers reminded everyone that he is still competing at the highest level possible and is without need for a replacement any time soon.

Rodgers made it abundantly clear that he had grown tired of Green Bay’s football operations philosophy. Tensions rose, and the preceding 2020 MVP campaign might have been his last in a Packers uniform. As luck would have it, Rodgers’ insistence receded (or the Packers made righteous concessions), and he continued his gridiron dominance wearing green and gold in 2021, earning another AP NFL MVP award. 

However, the 2021 season ended in a way that Rodgers and the Packers are all too familiar with: an NFC Championship loss. This year marked the third time Rodgers could not advance past the conference championship game and vault themselves into the Super Bowl. Again, Rodgers’s performance gave pundits ammunition for criticism.

Impact on the Packers

Entering the 2022 offseason felt familiar to Green Bay fans and the media. There was speculation that this past season was his “last hurrah.” So, many assumed a change in venue for Rodgers’s services. The Packers looked in trouble, having to rely on unproven Jordan Love. Moreover, All-Pro receiver, Davante Adams, appeared to be on the way out as well. There was a common perception that the NFC North was about to flip upside down.

Well, rest assured, because more of the same is coming. On March 7, it was rumored that the Packers offered Rodgers a “market-altering deal.” On March 8, that became a reality. Rodgers is now set to make $200M over the next four years in Green Bay, with $152M of that allegedly guaranteed. Rodgers’s new deal is likely to significantly hinder, if not halt altogether, Jordan Love’s future with the team. Love has been reportedly unimpressive through the first two years of his young NFL career, which substantially increased Rodgers' negotiation leverage.

It will be interesting to see what the Packers do next. Will they come to terms with Adams, as he is hitting the market in less than a week? Often thought of as a package deal, it would be surprising to see Adams depart while Rodgers remains. Never mind the uncertainty with Adams; the relatively longer-term deal with Rodgers all but guarantees that Green Bay will continue to sit atop the NFC North.

Impact on the QB acquisition market

Tangentially, this deal will reverberate throughout the NFL. Rodgers’s deal purportedly makes him the highest-paid player in NFL history, setting a new threshold for the quarterback market. Although salaries are always on an upward trajectory, this deal marks an abrupt spike in the market value of serviceable-to-elite quarterbacks. Does this change the asking price for players such as Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, or Mitchell Trubisky as they venture into the unknown? Probably not, and if so, only slightly. The gap between these free-agent quarterbacks and Aaron Rodgers is just too drastic to have any real, tangible effect on their market value.

On the other hand, it could materially alter the situation in Arizona with Kyler Murray and next years’ above-average crop of potential free agents. Players like Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford, Jimmy Garropolo, Baker Mayfield, and Daniel Jones benefit tremendously from this signing. While they are not likely to receive near the same level of compensation, they are being measured against a more favorable ceiling.

Overall, it is always huge news when one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL signs a new deal. This is amplified when it is a record-breaking contract. (See Dak Prescott circa August 2021). Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes’ era of monster contracts has now been supplanted, and the back-to-back NFL MVP will be saying, “I still own you” to Bears fans for the next four years.