Aaron Rodgers couldn’t help but consider the irony of the timing.
Eight years ago this weekend, Rodgers endured an interminable wait before finally landing with the Green Bay Packers with the 24th selection of the 2005 draft.
This week, Rodgers’ suit coat from that infamous day was found at a Green Bay Goodwill store.
With the ink dry on a five-year, $110 million contract extension, can the 2010 Super Bowl MVP and 2011 NFL MVP afford a new suit?
“I was waiting for that question,” Rodgers said at the end of a press conference in the middle of the Packers’ locker room on Friday afternoon. “That is actually my suit.”
According to reports from ESPN and NFL Network, Rodgers’ deal is tacked onto the final two years of his current contract. In all, Rodgers is slated to spend the next seven years as the Packers’ quarterback for a total of $130.6 million. The extension is worth $22 million per season, more than Baltimore’s Joe Flacco (six years, $120.6 million for $20.1 million per season) and making him the highest-paid player in NFL history. Rodgers will pocket $40 million this season, matching Drew Brees’ record.
“Yeah, it really is (humbling),” Rodgers said. “I feel like I come from some humble roots and I’m very humbled to have this opportunity to play a sport that I love. I’ve been dreaming about playing since I was a kid watching Joe Montana and Steve Young on TV, now being able to live out that dream and be paid very well. It’s also a responsibility I take very seriously.”
Critically for the Packers as they try to assemble a roster around Rodgers and Clay Matthews (five-year, $66 million extension), Rodgers’ cap charge won’t exceed $21 million in any season, according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer.
“I trust Ted and his staff and Russ,” Rodgers said. “It’s exciting that Clay and I have both gotten our deals done and we can continue to take those leadership roles on the team. I’m excited about what Ted and his staff are going to be able to do in the draft and doing things the way he’s done it in his time and in my time here -- drafting players, allowing Mike (McCarthy) to raise them up through our program and signing the ones that deserve to be signed.”
The Packers will get some breathing room in 2015, when Packers President Mark Murphy said the television contracts that begin in 2014 will begin impacting the salary cap.
“It was crucial, obviously, and I think we structured it in a way where we’ll continue to be in a position where we can compete on the field,” Murphy said. “But every team faces it. It’s a challenge. But he’s been such a great player and represents the Packers so well. I think everybody in the organization is really happy for him but happy for the organization, too, because it’s good for both sides.”
Rodgers is the unquestioned best quarterback in the game. In 2012, he led the NFL with a 108.0 passer rating and 4.88-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, was second with 39 touchdown passes and third with 67.2 percent accuracy. In NFL history, Rodgers is tops with 28.1 points per start , and his 104.9 career passer rating is a whopping 8.1 points better than second-place Steve Young.
When the deal expires, Rodgers will be 36. What happens at that point is anyone’s guess – and wasn’t something Rodgers felt like contemplating.
“I think I said pretty recently, I’ve played eight (seasons) – five as a starter – and I think I have eight left in my legs and body, at least, at a high level,” he said. “So, this is like many deals: A lot of times, you don’t see a deal all the way through if you’re playing well. It’s just the nature of some of these contracts. That’s a long way off. In order to even get to that conversation, it’s going to take many years in a row at a consistently high level of play for me, which I expect to do and I’m going to get myself in the best shape mentally and physically to do that, and hopefully we can have that conversation in seven years where I can still play and maybe we can keep this thing going.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.