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Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Aaron Rodgers and NFL contract 'rules'

By Kevin Seifert

The Baltimore Ravens have finalized their contract agreement with quarterback Joe Flacco, the record-setting details are out and now the sports business community has turned its attention to the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. There is no evidence that negotiations have begun, but anticipation is growing for the extent to which Rodgers will eclipse Flacco's six-year, $120.6 million deal.

Pro Football Talk suggested the Packers "soon will take care of Rodgers," and has reported he is unlikely to stage a holdout to force the Packers' hand. The story figures to remain a part of NFL offseason news, especially in the absence of games, training camp practices, mini-camps or even Organized Team Activities.

Aaron Rodgers
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, a Super Bowl MVP, NFL MVP and three-time Pro Bowl player, is scheduled to earn $9.75 million in 2013 and $11 million in 2014.
We've been discussing this issue since midway through Rodgers' MVP season in 2011. Even then, it was clear that he had far outperformed the six-year, $65 million contract he signed in October 2008. But that deal's post-2014 expiration eliminated any urgency the Packers might have felt to address it, and frankly, they would be within their rights to sit tight for another year. After all, the majority of NFL contracts are extended with one season (or less) remaining. Rodgers has two.

Flacco was a week away from free agency, or a pricy franchise tag, when he and the Ravens struck a deal. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees signed a five-year, $100 million contract last summer only after receiving a franchise tag. Typically, an NFL team would seek a market discount for extending a player with two years remaining. Would the Packers abandon that leverage and give Rodgers the richest contract in NFL history?

The answer for most players with two years remaining would be no. But it makes sense for the Packers to make an exception, for reasons that include, but are not limited to:
The counterargument, of course, is that Rodgers knew what he was getting into when he signed a six-year deal midway through his first season as the Packers' starter. The benefit of a long-term deal is that it provides more guaranteed money, and the downside (for the player) is that it limits movement and pushes back the timing of the next contract. If Rodgers wasn't willing to accept the potential of several underpaid seasons, the argument goes, he could have declined the long-term deal.

In the end, the most relevant part of contract negotiations is whether they will cause an interruption in a player's career via holdout, trade or release. Based on Rodgers' public comments over the past 18 months or so, there appears little chance of that. Fans will breathe easier when this period is over, but as in the cases of Flacco, Brees, the New England Patriots' Tom Brady and others, an agreement will be reached in time.