Many Packers fans are watching closely as the Baltimore Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco enter the final stage of contract negotiations. According to a tweet from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Flacco is on verge of signing a six-year contract worth more than $120 million. That would make him the highest-paid player in league history.
That’s a staggering amount of money. It’s more incredible when one considers that, before the playoffs started on Jan. 5, there was doubt as to whether the Ravens would re-sign Flacco. He won at least one playoff game in each of his first five seasons. After a remarkable eight-game playoff stretch that includes a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 18-to-2 and a Lombardi Trophy, Flacco catapulted himself into the upper echelon of quarterbacks, at least in terms of pay.
Does Flacco deserve anywhere near $20 million per season? Imagine the price tag for a Super Bowl-winning quarterback who owns an MVP award, has thrown 39-plus touchdown passes in each of the last two seasons, and has top-ten jersey sales. That’s a tiny snippet of Rodgers’ football resume. And he just turned 29 years old on Dec. 2012.
Wisconsin sports enthusiasts may remember Zack Greinke. From 2011-12, Greinke was a starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers. After he signed a six-year, $147 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers this past off-season, Greinke made it clear why he signed: money. Greinke told CBSSports.com:
“It’s obviously the No. 1 thing. I could play for the worst team if they paid the most—if the last-place team offers $200 million and the first-place team offers $10, I’m going to go for the $200 million no matter what team it was.”
Winning multiple championships wasn’t Greinke’s ultimate motivation for signing. He didn’t sign for the prestigious history. He didn’t sign because it was a comfortable location. He didn’t sign because of the fans. He signed because they gave him the most money.
Credit the man for his honesty. As you’re doing that, the Dodgers will credit his bank account.
What if Rodgers took that mindset into free agency? Rodgers has two years left on a six-year, $65 million contract that he signed during the 2008-09 season. Barring the franchise tag, Rodgers will become a free agent in 2015. At age 31, Rodgers would still be in his prime with years of quality football remaining.
What kind of contract would Rodgers demand? That hasn’t yet been determined. According to Packersnews.com, Rodgers made this comment:
“I’ve had eight great years there, the last five as a starter. Hopefully I can give them another eight plus years of playing at a high level.”
On top of his two remaining years, that’s a six-year extension. An eight-year, $200 million contract equals $25 million per season. With the soaring salary demands of professional athletes, it’s reasonable to think that some team would offer him that much. While baseball is a different sport, the Dodgers are paying Greinke $24.5 million per season—as a No. 2 pitcher.
In 2012, the Detroit Lions gave wide receiver Calvin Johnson an eight-year, $132 million contract. Even during his best seasons, Johnson averages approximately eight catches per game. Excluding wildcat formations, quarterbacks have the football in their hands on every offensive snap. Furthermore, replacing a star quarterback is harder than a star receiver.
A $200 million contract isn’t out of the question, although it’s very unlikely. Expect something closer to $150 million. Rodgers seems like the type of competitor who’d take a discount so management can surround him with better weapons. While a man needs only so much money, his legacy can’t have enough Super Bowls, MVPs and other accolades. Those things live on forever. Quality teammates, coaches and front-office executives help make those things possible.
One thing is for certain: during contract negotiations, Rodgers won’t hear the same questions that prospects get at the NFL Scouting Combine.