Agent’s Take: Aaron Rodgers’ trade value and the logistics of dealing the Packers’ star QB, plus his best fit
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst was noncommittal about the return of quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the 2023 season when he addressed the media at the NFL’s Indianapolis combine Tuesday. He said all options were being discussed until he spoke to Rogers.
“We want the best for the Green Bay Packers, the best for Aaron,” Gutekunst said. “So, we’ll come back to that as soon as these conversations take place.”
Gutekunst revealed that his only interaction with Rodgers since the end of the season almost two months ago has been a few text messaging.
Rodgers went on a dark retreat last week, originally scheduled for four days, to consider whether he wants to retire, return to the Packers, or seek a trade. He reiterated that he would not hold the Packers hostage, delaying his decision. during an interview for Marcus Aubry’s podcast. Ideally, the Packers will know of Rogers’ intentions before March 15, when free agency kicks in.
Common sense dictates that retirement is the least likely option because Rodgers will walk away from a fully guaranteed $59.465 million. He would also be in the shadows if he was in the same Hall of Fame class as Tom Brady, who recently retired.
Rodgers became the first $50 million-a-year NFL player last March when he decided he wanted to stay with the Packers rather than try to force a trade. The contract is generally agreed to be $150.815 million over three years, although the deal has two additional years below market (2025 and 2026).
The Packers used one of the more complex NFL contract structures with Rodgers. The trade has a rarely used double option bonus structure.
Initially, Rogers’ base salary in 2023 is a fully guaranteed $59.465 million. A $58.3 million fee is required to exercise Rogers’ $20.9 million contract year option for 2025 to reduce his 2023 base salary to a fully guaranteed $1.165 million. Rogers is projected to earn $59.515 million in 2023. The window to exercise this option is the first day of the 2023 league (March 15) until the day before the first game of the 2023 regular season in Green Bay in September.
In terms of the salary cap, it is assumed that the option years will be increased. Option bonuses are distributed pro rata to the length of the contract (up to a maximum of five years), including option years, starting from the league year in which the option is exercised. This means that the $58.3 million option bonus is prorated across a $14.575 million annual salary cap from 2023 to 2026.
Rogers expects Green Bay’s salary cap to be $31,623,570 by 2023. His cap consists of $8.16 million in proportion to his $40.8 million fully guaranteed lineup bonus in 2022, $14.575 million in option bonus, reduced base salary of $1.165 million, training bonus of $50,000 and $7,673,570 of the pre-existing bonus proportion from previous Packers contracts.
The second version of the contract is in 2024. Rogers’ base salary in 2024 is $49.25 million, which was guaranteed against injury at signing. That $49.25 million becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2024 release period (five days after Super Bowl LVIII) on February 16 of the following year. A $47 million fee is required to exercise Rogers’ 2026 contract year option worth $15.05 million. 2024 base salary up to $2.25 million fully guaranteed. The window to implement this option is from the first day of the 2024 league until the day before the first game of the 2024 Green Bay regular season.
The $47 million is currently prorated across a cap of $15,666,666, $15,666,666 and $15,666,668 for 2024, 2025 and 2026 due to the assumption that the options will be exercised. Rogers’ maximum amounts for 2024, 2025 and 2026 are listed as $40,701,666, $59,301,666, and $53,451,668.
The optimal time for the Packers to trade Rogers’ salary cap is after June 1st. If you wait until June 2, the proportion of bonuses from Rodgers’ contract years from 2024 to 2026 will not accelerate to Green Bay’s 2023 salary cap. This will be the ultimate charge of 2024.
The Packers will free up $15.79 million in free space. There will be $15,833,570 dead money, the cap salary increase for a player who is no longer on the team, from the proportion of the bonus relating to Rodgers’ 2023 contract year. In 2024, there will be $24.48 million of dead money from the bonus proportion from 2024 to 2026.
The buying team will want an earlier trade schedule so Rodgers has as much time as possible to get used to the new offense and develop chemistry with his wide receivers. The starting quarterback trade usually occurs before the NFL Draft, which runs from April 27 to April 29 this year.
With the pre-draft trade, Green Bay’s salary cap for Rodgers will increase by $8.69 million. There will be $40,313,570 of dead money, consisting of $32.640 million in line-up bonus and $7,673,570 in 2023 bonus that already existed prior to Rogers’ new deal. As of 2025, it will be removed from Green Bay’s accounting records.
Senior Quarterback Trade Compensation
Only a handful of starting quarterbacks who were at least 35 years old have been traded since the current NFL free agent system was introduced in 1993.
The most obvious comparison is to Brett Favre, who preceded Rodgers as the Green Bay starting quarterback. The Packers traded Favre, aged 38, to the Jets for a conditional 2009 fourth-round pick in August 2008 after he changed his mind after retiring. The Packers received a 2009 third-round pick because Favre’s offensive playing time hit the 50% mark in the 2008 season; 70% or more of the playing time when the Jets made the playoffs would instead receive a second round pick. The maximum profit for Green Bay would have been a first-round pick with Favre’s playing time reaching 80% and the Jets winning the Super Bowl.
A poison pill was also included. If Favre were subsequently traded to the Vikings (NFC North’s rivals), the Jets should have given the Packers three first-round picks. Favre only played one season with the Jets. After he retired again after the 2008 season, the Jets waived the rights to him, releasing him. This paved the way for Favre to once again change his mind and play his last two NFL seasons with the Vikings.
The most experienced senior quarterback traded is Joe Montana. In April 1993, the 49ers traded Montana, aged 36, quarterback David Whitmore and a 1994 third-round pick for a 1993 first-round pick (18th overall). Montana spent 1992 supporting Steve Young after missing the entire 1991 season. elbow injury.
Initially, the 49ers asked for picks in the first, second, and third rounds of the trade. Montana retired after two seasons with the Chiefs.
Warren Moon, aged 37, was traded from the Oilers (now the Titans) to the Vikings in April 1994 for a 1994 fourth-round pick and a 1995 third-round pick. Hall of Famer played three seasons for the Vikings.
Senior quarterback’s latest data point is Matt Ryan. The Colts acquired 37-year-old Ryan from the Falcons last March for a 2022 third-round pick. Ryan decided it was best to start over after 14 years in Atlanta because the Falcons were trying to replace him in an unsuccessful pursuit of Deshawn Watson. The Colts are expected to release Ryan before the 2023 season begins on March 15 due to his poor performance last season.
Trading value of Rogers
Rodgers, 39, makes his career year after year with an offer, and his contract makes the deal difficult. These two factors and Rogers’ age will affect the trade compensation.
According to NBC Sports’ Peter King, the Packers would seek two first-round picks for Rodgers in the event of a trade. The Packers probably needed to make a deal with Rodgers last year, when he won back-to-back NFL MVP awards, to expect the same or more profits.
Rodgers had a poor 2022 season. His 12 steals were the most since 2008 when he first started. Rodgers had 13 interceptions during the 2019-2021 season. His 91.1 passer rating was the lowest of his career. Rodgers’ 217.4 passing yards per game was also a career low.
There were some extenuating circumstances. Rodgers played with a broken throwing thumb for most of the season, and suffered a rib injury in the latter half of the season. Growing pains existed in rookie wide receivers as they adjusted to the departure of Davante Adams, his favorite target, in a trade to the Raiders.
However, Rodgers’ trading value should be higher than other senior quarterbacks. Rogers is probably better than his 2022 stats would suggest, but he’s not exactly a player from his recent MVP seasons.
Rogers’ trade price floor should be a 2023 second-round pick, assuming he is traded in a timely fashion. The upper limit will be a 2023 first round pick with a conditional 2024 second round pick that could become a first round pick depending on Rodgers or the team’s performance in 2023 and whether he commits to play in 2024.
The team needs to get some assurance from Rodgers that he will play at least two seasons before giving up significant assets to get him. Otherwise, he’s just a very expensive $59.515 million annual lease.
Gutekunst caused consternation with his comments in the media about backup quarterback Jordan Love.
“We are in awe of him,” Gutekunst said of Love. “I think I told a lot of people that he needs to play. This is the next step in his progress. He needs to play. Jordan did…