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Aaron Rodgers remains with Packers, with huge deal in the works

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is finalizing a new contract and plans to remain with the Packers. (Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will remain with the Green Bay Packers, he announced Tuesday.

Rodgers and the Packers are working to complete negotiations on a new contract that would pay him about $50 million per season, according to multiple people familiar with the deliberations. The expectation is that, barring a last-minute breakdown in those talks, Rodgers will remain with the Packers, according to one of those people.

Rodgers confirmed later Tuesday that he will stay with Green Bay but said he has not signed a new contract.

“YES I will be playing with the [Packers] next year, however, reports about me signing a contract are inaccurate, as are the supposed terms of the contract I ‘signed’. I’m very excited to be back,” Rodgers wrote on Twitter.

Rodgers, 38, stays put with the Packers after weeks of contemplating his football future following a disappointing end to Green Bay’s season. He has won the past two MVP awards, but the Packers failed to reach the Super Bowl despite entering the past two postseasons as the NFC’s top seed.

He had a turbulent 2021 season that began with him reporting to training camp following an offseason standoff with the front office. The tumult also included him creating a national controversy when he vigorously defended his unvaccinated status after testing positive for the coronavirus in November.

Pat McAfee, the former NFL punter who hosts a show on which Rodgers regularly appears, wrote on Twitter earlier Tuesday that Rodgers “will officially be returning to the Green Bay Packers.” McAfee said later on his show that he had been told by Rodgers that the quarterback plans to remain with the Packers. No deal is in place for a new contract, McAfee said. NFL Network reported that Rodgers and the Packers had agreed to a four-year, $200 million deal.

The new contract could end up being worth around $50 million per season or perhaps even slightly more if the negotiations are completed as expected, according to multiple people familiar with the situation. Rodgers would supplant Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whose contract is worth $45 million per season, as the NFL’s highest-paid player. Rodgers’s deal is expected to be structured in a way that would provide salary cap relief for the Packers during the 2022 season.

Rodgers has two seasons remaining on a four-year, $134 million contract. The deal averages $33.5 million per year. It pays Rodgers about $27.5 million for the 2022 season, when he is to count approximately $46.7 million against the salary cap.

There had been speculation that Rodgers might seek a trade, and he had not ruled out the possibility of retirement.

A trade request would have kicked off a wild frenzy of bidding that could have included the Pittsburgh Steelers and other quarterback-needy NFL teams. A retirement decision would have had him walking away from the sport during the same offseason that fellow quarterbacking greats Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger announced they were done playing.

Instead, Rodgers will play an 18th season for the Packers. He will try to join his former Packers teammate, quarterback Brett Favre, as the only players to win three straight MVP awards. And he and the Packers will attempt to make the return trip to the Super Bowl that has proved so elusive in recent years.

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The Packers face a salary cap crunch. They used their franchise player tag Tuesday on Rodgers’s favorite receiver, wideout Davante Adams. That pays Adams a cap-unfriendly salary of $20.145 million next season, barring a long-term deal being struck later, but it keeps Adams off the free agent market, which begins next week. Rodgers had said he had no interest in being part of a rebuilding project in Green Bay.

The quarterback has said that he had discussions following the season with General Manager Brian Gutekunst and other team officials that had been more productive than previous interactions with Packers management. The thawing of that relationship appeared to set the stage for Rodgers’s return.

“It just comes down to kind of weighing where I’m at mentally and understanding what the commitment is, and then kind of making a commitment and everybody moving forward,” Rodgers said three days before the Super Bowl, when he accepted his fourth MVP award Feb. 10 in Los Angeles.

Rodgers said then that he did not fear retirement but remained highly competitive and still had a bitter feeling from the Packers’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs. He said that he had “great conversations” with the Packers before leaving town following the postseason defeat.

“Should I come back, there’s things that need to get done, probably, to get the team where it needs to go,” Rodgers said then. “But should I feel like [it’s] my time to move on and do something else, I’ll be extremely, eternally grateful for the Green Bay Packers organization, the fan base, all the incredible 17 years’ worth of memories and friendships and special, special moments that I’ve gotten to share with members of the organization, my teammates, people that work there and the fans as well. I’m just super thankful for every single moment.”

Rodgers threw for 4,115 yards and 37 touchdowns with only four interceptions last season while posting a league-best passer rating of 111.9. Rodgers played with a fractured toe suffered during his isolation period following his positive coronavirus test.

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