We've spent some time discussing the Green Bay Packers' options for clearing salary-cap space so they can offer potentially monstrous contract extensions to quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews, among others. I'm not sure whether the Packers have established a priority list yet, but it doesn't appear that discussions have begun with Rodgers.
The Packers will undoubtedly extend Rodgers' deal some day, but he is under contract through the 2014 season and thus the only urgency is to remedy a vastly undervalued situation. Rodgers' deal averages about half that of the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees, who signed a five-year contact worth $100 million last summer, and has no guaranteed money remaining.
Rodgers took a smart tack in discussing the issue Tuesday on his ESPN 540 radio show, suggesting the Baltimore Ravens' upcoming deal with quarterback Joe Flacco will set the 2013 market -- one that Rodgers will presumably eclipse.
"I think everybody is going to see what Joe [Flacco] ends up signing for," Rodgers said.
Flacco's agent said this week that he is seeking the NFL's most lucrative contract ever for a quarterback. You might scoff at Flacco's chances of getting Brees money from the Ravens, but he sure picked a good time to win the Super Bowl MVP. Regardless, Rodgers remains in a good position. Even if Flacco signs for less than $20 million annually, Brees' deal remains a reasonable benchmark.
Rodgers wasn't ready to discuss specifics Tuesday, including whether he would be willing to take a hometown discount. Frankly, there is no reason to publicize an opinion on that issue until the Packers come to the table.
"It kind of is what it is, as far as that goes," he said. "The team, when they're ready to talk contract, we'll get there when we get there."
Ultimately, Rodgers said, "we'll get a deal done. I'm not worried about that."
Nor am I, and neither should Packers fans. The only issue with Rodgers is when and how much.
I'm not sure we can say the same about Matthews, whose situation is a little more urgent considering he is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Escalators have elevated his base salary for 2013 to a multi-million level, and although I don't have the exact figures yet, Spotrac.com reports it is $3.373 million. You wonder if the Packers will make a decision on Matthews first and proceed before moving on to Rodgers.