Aaron Rodgers, to no one’s surprise, became the latest star quarterback to push the salary bar higher in becoming the NFL’s highest-paid player.
Rodgers’s long-awaited contract extension with the Green Bay Packers was completed Wednesday. He agreed to a four-year deal worth $134 million, according to a person familiar with the terms of the contract.
The Packers announced the agreement later Wednesday but did not release details of the deal.
“It’s been an amazing ride the last 13 years; excited to start year 14 knowing that my future is here, in Green Bay, for our 100th season,” Rodgers wrote on an Instagram post in which he thanked the Packers, his teammates and Green Bay fans. “I’ve grown up in this place, and grown older and a little wiser along the way. … Looking forward to making some more memorable moments this year, and for years to come.”
Rodgers, a two-time NFL most valuable player, unseats Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan atop the league’s highest-paid-player rankings. Ryan agreed to a five-year, $150 million extension with the Falcons in May. Ryan’s deal surpassed that of Kirk Cousins, who struck a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million agreement with the Minnesota Vikings in March in free agency after three straight 4,000-yard passing seasons for the Washington Redskins.
Rodgers had two seasons remaining on his previous contract with base salaries totaling $39.8 million. He now is to make $176 million over the next six seasons, including a $500,000 workout bonus that he already earned this year. The new deal includes $98.2 million in guaranteed money. Rodgers receives a signing bonus of $57.5 million and is to make about $80 million by March.
The extension runs through the 2023 season, during which Rodgers will turn 40, and could keep Rodgers in Green Bay for his entire NFL career. He was chosen by the Packers with the 24th overall selection in the 2005 NFL draft, ending his plummet through the opening round after many had thought he would vie with fellow quarterback Alex Smith to be that year’s No. 1 pick.
Rodgers sat and waited for three entire seasons behind Brett Favre before taking over as the Packers’ starter in 2008 amid Favre’s unceremonious split with the organization. Rodgers has been a worthy successor to Favre, winning a Super Bowl title and being selected to six Pro Bowls. He was the league’s MVP in the 2011 and 2014 seasons.
He is among the league’s most indispensable players, keeping the Packers in Super Bowl contention even in seasons in which there were major deficiencies in the team’s offensive line, running game and defense. The Packers have a record of 94-48 in regular season games he has started. They are 6-11-1 in games he did not start beginning with the 2008 season. They’d reached the playoffs in eight straight seasons before that streak ended last season, in which they went 7-9 and Rodgers missed nine games because of a broken collarbone.
Rodgers had said he was leaving the negotiations to his representatives without allowing the deliberations to occupy his thoughts.
“Obviously it’s important to me,” he said during a recent interview with ESPN radio in Wisconsin. “Obviously I’d love to finish my career here. But I’m busy right now. I’m being a leader on this team. I’m focused on being the quarterback of the team. And if nothing gets done, it won’t change anything because all I’m worried about right now is playing ball. If something does get done, that’s fantastic. It’s great. Then I’d think about, you know, that I can finish my career here, hopefully. And, you know, that changes the down-the-line stuff. The legacy stuff can be even more important now. But I’m not even thinking about that.”
Rodgers previously had acknowledged that the possibility existed he would not finish his NFL career in Green Bay, although he’d said he was not fretting about it.
“I’m 34,” he said during the recent radio interview. “I’m in my 14th season. And I’m still under contract for two years and I’m still playing good. And they still like me. So I’m not worried about that.”
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