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Trio received early-year roster bonuses

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In addition to all the cash the Green Bay Packers have handed out during the early days of free agency, they also had to make good on three significant payments from contracts signed last year.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews and safety Morgan Burnett all had roster bonuses due within the first week of the new league year, which began on March 11. The sum of those three bonuses totaled $16 million.

Rodgers was paid a $9.5 million roster bonus on March 11, per the terms of the five-year, $110 million contract extension he signed last April. Two days later, Matthews received a $5 million roster bonus as part of the five-year, $66 million contract he signed last April. And two days after that, on the fifth day of the league year, Burnett was given $1.5 million as part of the four-year, $24.75 million deal he signed last July.

In all three cases, paying the bonuses were givens, especially for franchise-type players like Rodgers and Matthews. But in some cases, players sweat out those early-year roster-bonus deadlines because teams sometimes decide to cut players loose rather than paying them.

While those roster bonuses represented the only guaranteed money in 2014 for that trio, their base salaries are essentially guaranteed as well because there's no chance the Packers would cut any of them. All three have low base salaries for this season with Burnett ($1.15 million) being the highest followed by Matthews ($1 million) and Rodgers ($900,000).