One quarterback that has been recently linked to the Jets is future Hall of Famer and Green Bay Packer Aaron Rodgers.
Oh baby: @JFowlerESPN name dropped the #Jets on @SportsCenter as a landing spot for #Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) via trade, ‘they’re going to scour the Earth for a new QB’ #TakeFlight #GoPackGo pic.twitter.com/JpegmxlkzK— Paul Andrew Esden Jr (@BoyGreen25) January 22, 2023
While acquiring Rodgers the player is one thing, acquiring the contract that comes with Rodgers is another and it’s a very important consideration.
In general, I find there are things that I have a great grasp on when it comes to the NFL, while others I have to rely on others to inform me on. Relevant to this instance is that I do not know the ‘ins and outs’ of the NFL salary cap, so I will instead opt to provide the words of someone who does. All credit for the below blockquote belongs to rcon14 of the the Acme Packing SBNation site.
Since a lot of Rodgers’ bonuses are going to be accelerated onto the Packers’ books, the books for the acquiring team look a little bit better for them than for what it would look like for Green Bay. In the 2023 season, Rodgers would only count against Team X’s books to the tune of $15.8M. In 2024, assuming they have not reworked his contract (which may not be a correct assumption), he would also have a low cap hit of just $18M.
After the 2024 season, it’s anyone’s guess as to what would happen. Rodgers is not going to play on his current contract in the 2025 season and beyond. The frank reason is that he wouldn’t be paid enough to stick around, as his cash paid plummets to just $20.9M and $15.1M in 2025 and 2026, respectively. If he plays beyond 2024, it’s on a new contract.
Let’s assume he retires after the 2024 season, what would the new team be taking on? The most likely scenario is they would take on a dead cap hit of $30.2M in 2024 and $30.2M in 2025. The reason for this is because of post-June 1st rules, and Rodgers would almost certainly do what Drew Brees did when he retired: Announce retirement, but not ‘officially’ retire until after June 1st so that the dead cap could be spread out over two years.
Kind of weird, right? The acquiring team pays less to have Aaron Rodgers ON their team in 2023 and 2024 than when he is no longer there. Such is the weird contract of Aaron Rodgers. The overall cap cost would be about $94.2M for two years of work and four years of cap hits. That is about the overall going rate for quarterbacks these days, but the way it hits the cap is unique.
Overall, this contract creates a unique situation for a team in need of a QB with limited cap space, such as the Jets. However, the piper will eventually need to be paid and come with large cap hits after 2024 that will likely hinder the ability for the acquiring team’s roster to contend in those years and perhaps beyond that.
But what do you think? Is Rodgers’ play level high enough to warrant this contract/cap hit structure? Is this a contract and player you’d be willing to acquire if you were Jets General Manager Joe Douglas?