Aaron Rodgers, Packers agree to 4-year, $200M deal: report
GREEN BAY, Wis. - Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers have agreed to terms on a four-year, $200 million deal according to Ian Rapoport, National Insider for NFL Network and NFL.com.
Rodgers himself acknowledged via Twitter that he will be playing for the Packers in the upcoming season. But he indicated the terms of the contract are yet to be fully worked out.
Rapoport indicates this makes Rodgers the highest paid player in NFL history and gets him $153 million in guaranteed money.
Rodgers’ decision comes nearly a month after he won his second straight MVP award. The four-time MVP quarterback has spent his entire career in Green Bay.
He said he wanted to make an announcement on his future before the start of the free agency period that begins next week. The reports of his decision surfaced the same day the Packers face a deadline whether to give All-Pro receiver Davante Adams a franchise tag.
Rodgers wanted to avoid a repeat of 2021, when his status was uncertain until the start of training camp after he skipped the Packers’ mandatory minicamp.
The questions about his future stemmed from Rodgers’ disagreements with team management at the time. Rodgers said on multiple occasions over the last few months that his relationship with team officials had improved significantly.
Rodgers’ plans had been the subject of much speculation ever since the Packers traded up four spots to take Utah State quarterback Jordan Love with the 26th overall pick in the 2020 draft. After referring to his future as a "beautiful mystery" late in the 2020 season, Rodgers skipped the Packers’ organized team activities and mandatory minicamp in a standoff with team management.
Rodgers reported for training camp on time but acknowledged his future with the organization was uncertain. At the time, he said he wanted to have a voice in the team’s decision-making process.
Rodgers recently has frequently offered compliments about the moves general manager Brian Gutekunst made to improve the team. Those moves included acquiring wide receiver Randall Cobb at Rodgers’ request. Rodgers said he got the sense there was better communication this season and that "I feel like my opinion mattered."
"I think he put together a really nice team, a team that could have won a Super Bowl, and he deserves a lot of credit for some of the moves that he made," Rodgers said after a January playoff loss to San Francisco. "I’m disappointed we couldn’t put it together for him and the organization tonight, and I’m disappointed it’s ending."
Gutekunst agreed their relationship was in a good place.
"I feel really good about where we sit right now," Gutekunst said before the NFL scouting combine.
Rodgers had a tumultuous 2021 season in a number of respects, particularly for comments he made about his vaccination status. When asked before the season whether he had been vaccinated against COVID-19, Rodgers replied, "Yeah, I’m immunized." But after testing positive during the season, Rodgers acknowledged he was unvaccinated and said he instead had sought alternative treatments.
Rodgers also dealt with a fractured left pinky toe for much of the year, but continued playing at an All-Pro level. He threw 20 touchdown passes with no interceptions over his final seven regular-season games. He led the Packers to a 13-4 record and a third straight NFC North championship.
But his season ended with a disappointing playoff performance. The Packers scored a touchdown on the game’s opening series but never reached the end zone again in the home loss to the 49ers.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur, Gutekunst and president/CEO Mark Murphy said after the season they all wanted Rodgers back in 2022.
"I think we’ve got as good a shot as anybody to win a Super Bowl next year (with Rodgers)," Gutekunst said. "He’s the MVP of the league. That’s our goal. I think we have an opportunity to do it right now."
LaFleur made a move seemingly aimed at keeping Rodgers when he brought back Tom Clements as quarterbacks coach. Rodgers had praised the 68-year-old Clements, who previously worked for the Packers from 2006-16 in roles that included quarterbacks coach (2006-11), offensive coordinator (2012-14) and associate head coach/offense (2015-16). Rodgers lauded Clements on multiple occasions over the last year.
Rodgers’ return would answer one giant question for the Packers as they head into a critical offseason. They’re well over the salary cap and have several key players with expiring contracts, including Adams.
Gutekunst has said he believes the Packers could keep Rodgers and Adams while building a contending team around them.
"I think obviously everything around here kind of centers on the quarterback," Gutekunst said before the combine. "It’s a big piece and a domino that kind of has to fall before we go down the other avenues. So, it’s important as we go through this and the puzzle pieces we have to try to make fit. That’s the first one to go."
Rodgers with the Packers
Rodgers, drafted in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft out of California, took the reins from Hall of Fame passer Brett Favre after three seasons on the Packers' bench.
In his time as the Packers' starting quarterback, Rodgers has won four MVP awards along with a Super Bowl MVP award in the team's 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers more than a decade ago.
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Rodgers was named a five-time All-Pro by the Associated Press, including first-team selections in each of the past two seasons. His 10 Pro Bowl selections are the most in Packers history.
Rodgers has led the NFL in passer rating four times, passing touchdowns twice and completion percentage once. He holds the NFL record for fastest quarterback to reach 400 passing touchdowns, achieved in 193 games. He also holds the NFL record passer rating in a season, 122.5, as well as records for the lowest interception rate in a season and for a career, consecutive passes without an interception and best career touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Rodgers and the now-retired Tom Brady were named the quarterbacks of the NFL's 2010s All-Decade Team. He won the Bart Starr Award for exemplary leadership on the field and in the community in 2014.
NFL records aside, Rodgers retired as the Packers' all-time leader in touchdown passes, completion percentage (among quarterbacks who attempted at least 25 passes). He is second in passing yards, games played and game-winning drives to only Favre – who played 42 more games for Green Bay than did Rodgers.
Speculation of retirement
As early as April 2020, in the days leading up to the NFL draft, former Packers signal-caller Brett Favre began speculating that the Packers may draft a quarterback – but insisted that "no one" would be replacing Aaron Rodgers. Days later, Favre speculated, though, that Rodgers would finish his career elsewhere in the NFL.
The Packers did, in fact, draft a quarterback; Jordan Love was the team's first-round selection. It came 15 years to the day after the Packers drafted Rodgers – Favre's ultimate successor. Though initially mum on the pick, at least publicly, Rodgers did eventually say that he had "respect" for the team's decision to draft Love.
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Later that summer, Rodgers openly discussed an end to his time in Green Bay. He told The Ringer that his days may have been numbered based on the pick: "That’s probably what happens, based on the circumstances around everything…Just look at the facts. They traded up. They drafted him. I would say they like him. They want to play him."
Months later, during the NFL playoffs, it was announced that Rodgers would guest host "Jeopardy!" following the death of long-time host Alex Trebek. Days later, the Packers lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field in the NFC title game.
The Monday after that game, Rodgers described his future as "uncertain." Less than two weeks later, he won his third NFL MVP. In some ways, his comments could be interpreted as a calm before a storm.
On April 29, the opening night of the 2021 NFL draft, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Rodgers had grown "disgruntled" with the Packers to the point that he would not return.
"As we’ve stated since the season ended, we are committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond," Gutekunst said in a statement released by the team. "Aaron has been a vital part of our success and we look forward to competing for another championship with him leading our team."
As the Wisconsin sports world and Packers fandom was left in limbo, Favre again chimed in publicly with his thoughts on the situation.
"Whatever the issue is, if it's not resolved – or even if it's resolved but he feels like they got one up on him – he ain't going to play," Favre said on the "Bolling with Favre" podcast. "Knowing Aaron, he would sit."
On May 7, 2021, The Athletic reported that the Packers had recently offered to make Rodgers the NFL's highest-paid quarterback – more than doubling his payday for the upcoming season. It was later reported that he turned down a lucrative contract extension.
In the time before Rodgers ultimately returned to the team, numerous others – including current and former teammates – offered their two cents on the situation, as did unnamed league executives and others.
Packers organized team activities began on May 24. Rodgers was not there, as expected. The next day, Rodgers broke his public silence.
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Rodgers made an appearance on ESPN’s "SportsCenter" in longtime anchor Kenny Mayne’s final show – discussing the significance of "culture" and "people" in Green Bay.
"I think sometimes people forget what really makes an organization," Rodgers said. "History is important and legacy of so many people who’ve come before you. But the people – that’s the most important thing. The people make an organization. People make a business and sometimes that gets forgotten. You know culture is built brick by brick. The foundation of it by the people. Not by the organization, not by the building, not by the corporation. It’s built by the people.
As trade winds died down, Rodgers remained a no-show to the team facilities as mandatory minicamp opened in June. An NFL insider reported later that month that Rodgers "still wants out."
‘The Last Dance’
Rodgers himself, along with teammate Davante Adams, added fuel to the fire of speculation in July.
Rodgers and Adams ominously both posted the same picture from "The Last Dance" to their Instagram stories on July 23. The iconic image shows Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen exchanging fistbumps in what would be their final season with the Chicago Bulls.
Days later, however, Rodgers arrived in Green Bay for the start of training camp. He spoke to assembled media the next day, and spoke on whether he expected to be back next season.
"I really don’t know," Rodgers said. "I think I’m just going to focus on this year. There’s a lot of moving pieces besides myself, expiring contracts from a number of guys, so there’s going to be a lot of tough decisions at the end of the year. I’m just going to enjoy this year and then revisit that conversation at the end of the season."
Rodgers arrives in Green Bay for start of training camp. (Courtesy: Packers Twitter Page)
More details on his "disgruntled" status came to light during the media conference.
The three-time MVP wanted to have a voice in the decision-making process and believed the organization didn’t treat departing high-character veterans with enough respect — mentioning more than a dozen former Packers, including Charles Woodson, Jordy Nelson and Julius Peppers.
"I felt like if you can’t commit to me past 2021 and I’m not part of your recruiting process in free agency, if I’m not a part of the future, then instead of letting me be a lame-duck quarterback, if you want to make a change and move forward, then go ahead and do it," Rodgers said.
Rodgers emphasized that he wasn’t asking for the final say in personnel matters. He just wanted to be in the loop. Without mentioning the receiver by name, Rodgers cited the Packers' decision to cut Jake Kumerow last year and wondered why team officials couldn't have given him the chance to talk them out of making that move.
Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams line up to run a play against the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Day
"The rules are the same for most people, but every now and then there’s some outliers, guys who’ve been in the organization for 17 years and won a few MVPs, where they can be in conversations at a different, higher level," Rodgers said. "I’m not asking for anything that other great quarterbacks across the last few decades have not gotten, the opportunity to just be in conversation."
Gutekunst said Rodgers would be involved in the team’s decision-making process, but added that’s not a change from how the Packers have operated in the past.
"Aaron’s had kind of the same input he’s always had, I think, which has been a lot," Gutekunst said. "He’s earned a place at the table. I think he always has. I think one of the things to this offseason I think is learning how to incorporate that."
Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones and Jon Runyan celebrate a touchdown against the 49ers on Sept. 26, 2021.
Shortly after those comments, the quarterback described his relationship with Gutekunst as a "work in progress."
The season in full-swing, Rodgers admitted he was "misty-eyed" after he was greeted with cheers by fans after his return from a stint on the COVID-19/reserve list.
"I just don't take these things for granted, walking off the field as a winner. Just walking out with Preston [Smith], who I have so much love and appreciation for, and then hearing that type of response from the crowd, it was a little extra special today," Rodgers said, via the Packers’ website.
Rodgers became the center of a second media firestorm of the year when it became known that he had not received the COVID-19 vaccine, seeking alternative treatment options instead. His explanation for being "immunized," as he put it, instead of vaccinated against the coronavirus, drew flack. Though he defended his stance on not receiving the vaccine, he made comments that repeated debunked myths surrounding its use.
In late December, the Packers' season still rolling along, the 38-year-old Rodgers said he was yet to make a decision regarding his football future but that any decision would not be dragged out. Rodgers said he hadn't ruled out anything, whether it be returning to Green Bay next year, trying to play elsewhere, or even retiring.
Aaron Rodgers shows his foot while discussing a toe injury with media via Zoom on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021.
The Packers lost their lone playoff game to the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field, ending the season and starting the clock on another uncertain offseason for Rodgers.
"Certainly, we want him back here," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said via NFL.com after the loss. "I think we'd be crazy not to want him back here. He's going to be the two-time MVP.
Rodgers said he did not want to be a part of any rebuilding project, should one begin to unfold in Titletown, though LaFleur added that there was "no plan" for any such project.
Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was named the newest head coach of the Denver Broncos. While it was announced prior to Rodgers' retirement, it did spark more speculation of a possible departure from Green Bay to the Mile High City.
The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this report.