USA Today Sports’ Mackenzie Salmon breaks down the potential for three 2021 NFL draft prospects.
GREEN BAY – Even though the Green Bay Packers did not restructure quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ contract before the NFL started its new year last month, general manager Brian Gutekunst suggested Monday it could still happen.
Gutekunst said the Packers are “working through” multiple options to reduce their salary cap, including restructuring Rodgers’ contract. The quarterback has no guaranteed money left on a deal that carries through the end of 2023. The Packers chose not to convert a $6.8 million roster bonus into a signing bonus last month. Rodgers is scheduled to receive a $14.7 million base salary this fall, money that could be converted into a signing bonus to lessen his 2021 cap charge.
It is widely believed Rodgers would like more guaranteed money on the final three years of his deal, making it more difficult for the Packers to move on after they traded up in the first round to draft potential replacement Jordan Love last spring. The lack of guaranteed money leaves next spring as a potential out for the team if it would like to transition to Love.
“That’s kind of something we’re working through,” Gutekunst said. “I think it’s something we’ve talked about quite a bit as we work through this salary-cap situation, which is really kind of a two-year situation. We’ve looked through a lot of different things, and that’s one of them.”
TOP 50 NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS: Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields highlight QB-heavy class
MORE: 11 NFL teams that might turn heads by picking a quarterback in 2021 draft
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked by Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) during the NFC championship game on Sunday, January 24, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. (Photo: Wm. Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-W)
With the NFL’s new television contract not going into effect until 2023, teams are bracing for a similarly pandemic-deflated cap in 2022. After an offseason of restructuring contracts and reluctance to add outside free agents, Gutekunst said he expects the Packers to be in a similar situation next spring.
Rodgers’ cap hit in 2022 is already $39.8 million without prorating more money. However, Gutekunst said Rodgers’ 2022 cap hit is “not at all” a deterrent to restructuring the quarterback’s deal.
“It’s very important for us to work through the next two years to get this salary-cap thing right,” Gutekunst said. “We will have to address many contracts over the next four or five months to get under the cap for the season, and that’s certainly one where we will probably address that as well.”
Rodgers’ future sparked national discussion since the quarterback spoke of his “uncertain” future immediately after the NFC championship game loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team, which went through a tumultuous transition from Brett Favre to Rodgers in 2008, has consistently backed Rodgers as its quarterback since the season ended.
Gutekunst reiterated the same support Monday, though he again provided no definitive timeline.
“Aaron’s our guy,” Gutekunst said. “He’s going to be our quarterback for the foreseeable future. We’re excited about the things we’re going to try to accomplish over the next couple years. So with the contract that you’re kind of talking about, it’s something that we’ll work through. We’re going to have to do probably a few things with contracts as we head to the season, and into the season, to make sure our salary-cap situation not only this year but also in 2022 is square.
“So we’re not done yet. We’ve done a lot to get here. We’ve kind of been doing things as we go, and we will continue to do that as we go.”