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from the WSJ, another take on Aaron Rodgers


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I don't think the author knows a lot about the salary cap. I know I don't but it has been said that the packers need to move on for salary cap sanity. 

 

An Aaron Rodgers Trade Finally Makes Sense. Here’s Why.

Moving on from the star quarterback would come with a big financial hit for Green Bay. But parting ways with him would be even more punishing next year.

The Las Vegas Raiders and the New York Jets have been mentioned as possible destinations if the Green Bay Packers were to trade Aaron Rodgers.PHOTO: JOHN FISHER/GETTY IMAGES

By Andrew Beaton
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Feb. 26, 2023 

The rules of the NFL’s salary cap are abstruse. Ken Ingalls, an accountant from Wisconsin, is obsessed with them. 

Ingalls maintains a massive spreadsheet with every player on his beloved Green Bay Packers along with the arcane details of each of their contracts. It’s his personal blueprint for what the team can afford now and years into the future. So when the Packers inked star quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a three-year extension worth over $150 million last year, Ingalls wasn’t simply excited as a lifelong fan of the team. 

Ingalls dove into the contract’s minutiae and was shocked to see how the deal was structured. Most deals are designed so that, when a team moves on from a player before his contract is finished, the team absorbs less of a salary cap hit further along into the contract.

But the Packers have a surprising incentive to trade Rodgers this offseason because they did the exact opposite: it gets even more expensive if they wait. The reason is that each year of the three-year deal they pay him a large bonus—but only a fraction of it is accounted for on the salary cap in the present while the rest of the cap hit is essentially deferred and adds up over time as a future liability. 


“Every year he plays, it becomes more and more punishing if and when he moves on from the Packers,” Ingalls says. “I’d never seen anything like this in my time looking at things like this for the Packers.” 

Now that Rodgers has emerged from his darkness retreat, it’s time for him to begin deciding on his professional future, and he could go in any number of directions. He could stay in Green Bay, retire or push for a trade to a team like the Las Vegas Raiders or New York Jets. Even if he plays only another year or two, there are teams that would be eager to open a short Super Bowl window with Rodgers under center. 

If Rodgers is traded, the Packers and another team would have to sort through the difficult task of agreeing how to value a 39-year-old quarterback who’s coming off a down season but won back-to-back most valuable player awards right before that. It could also come down to money—and the massive hole Rodgers will inevitably leave in Green Bay’s wallet. 

The NFL’s salary cap is filled with complicated mechanisms that teams can use to cook their books. How the money is paid to a player—whether it’s in the form of salary or a signing bonus, for instance—determines when those dollars count against the team’s cap. (Although contracts aren’t public documents, their details are widely reported on allowing cap gurus to analyze their impacts.)

Some of the tools available to teams allow them to defer salary cap hits into the future, which is especially useful to avoid having expensive players gum up the ledgers too much in any individual season. Rodgers has a guaranteed roster bonus that was already given to him but has a cap hit that’s spread out over years into the future.  

All of it ultimately boils down to an esoteric form of accounting that underpins how teams are built, so it makes sense that Ingalls grew obsessed with it and amassed a Twitter following of more than 20,000 fans who read his calculations about the Packers. 

His numbers about Rodgers are bleak for Green Bay. They’re even grimmer a year from now.

“It’s like buying a sports car on a credit card. You get the sports car right away,” Ingalls says. “But you’re going to be paying for that over time.” 

After a trade, Rodgers would still count for $40.3 million against the Packers’ salary cap. That’s cash they have already paid him but hadn’t been accounted for yet because of the way his deal was constructed. That’s a gigantic amount of dead money that they won’t be able to spend on other players. For some perspective, it’s 18% of the $224.8 million salary cap for 2023. 

 

After a trade, Aaron Rodgers would still count for $40.3 million against the Packers’ salary cap.

As players get deeper into their contracts, that cost of moving on from a player typically decreases. What makes the structure of Rodgers’s deal so peculiar, though, is that the dead money actually goes up next year. If Rodgers came back to Green Bay and decided to move on in 2024, either via a trade or retirement, that figure would increase to $68.2 million. 

“Usually if you decide to keep a player and you wait an extra year, those decisions get easier,” Ingalls says. “It’s the inverse with Rodgers.” 

That’s why the Packers don’t have any particularly good options. Trading him means both losing the team’s most important player while also receiving a financial blow. But keeping him could be even more nightmarish because how the dead money would balloon if he retired or demanded a trade next offseason. 

The curious part is how the same complex mechanisms that make a Rodgers trade less than ideal financially for the Packers are the same reason why a trade is feasible. The Jets, for example, likely won’t have the cap space to add an enormous contract in 2023. Yet while Rodgers would be owed nearly $60 million for next season, almost all of that comes in the form of a bonus that can be spread over years for cap purposes. Any team acquiring Rodgers could have him on the books for under $16 million, with the rest prorated over future years. 

There are other reasons that now could be the moment the Packers are motivated to move on from their talented yet mercurial quarterback. This offseason they have to decide on whether to exercise an option on the contract of Jordan Love, the quarterback they took in the first round of the draft in 2020—and upset Rodgers in doing so. 

Love has hardly played over the past few years because of Rodgers’s presence. Bringing Rodgers back while declining Love’s option would be tantamount to conceding the team wasted a valuable draft pick on him. 

Rodgers could also see a brighter future elsewhere. In Las Vegas, he would reunite with longtime Packers star receiver Davante Adams, who the Raiders acquired last year. The Jets, meanwhile, are seen as having one of the brightest cores in the league—with quarterback as the glaring exception. 

Another Packers quarterback once had a similar idea. After 16 years in Green Bay and flirting with retirement, Brett Favre was traded to the Jets, who midway through that 2008 season looked like one of the NFL’s top teams. Then an injured Favre sputtered down the stretch while the team lost four of its last five games to miss the playoffs. 

Favre played two more seasons after that—for the Packers’ rival, the Minnesota Vikings. 

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So trading for Rogers for a year or two while ZW 'develops' seems unlikely now, as any new contract for Rogers has to be 'long' to divide out those enormous signing bonuses. Like we'd need a 5 or 6 year contract just to divide out his first two years to a reasonable amount ($15-$20m per). Or just take the whole $60m cap hit each of his first two years, then move on to ZW?

Confusing. All I know is we weren't supposed to be in the position for another 3 years, when Zacks big 'second contract' came due. Oh my how fast things have crumbled.

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Article does not know what it is talking about. If Rodgers is traded post June 1 it is a $15 million-ish hit this year and next. $40 million if before June 1 with $8 million of savings in 2024. Seems unlikely that they will want to tank this year for just $8 million in savings next year. I just do not see GB trading Rodgers unless it is after June 1. And you cannot designate a trade as a post June 1 transaction.

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From my understanding, this article is “accurate” but short on detail.

The Packers got completely duped by this contract.   their only real way out is to trade him.  

The Packers are dealing with three big payments-Rodgers salary is relatively small.

  • Signing bonus-they paid him a $41mm signing bonus last year, and were able to allocate $27mm against the cap.  So they are allocating $14mm over the remaining 4 years of the contract.
  • 2023 Option Bonus-They owe Rodgers $58mm this year.  They can call it an option bonus and thus spread it over 4 years. 
  • 2024 Guarantee Bonus-if he is on the roster the week after the 2023-2024 Super Bowl, he is owed an other $47mm.   That can be paid as a bonus and allocated over the remaining 3 years of his contract.   If Rodgers gets injured he is on the roster and that bonus needs to be paid.  

Packers Options:

  • If they don’t trade him, he gets paid his bonus in 2023 and then they cut him after the Super Bowl. Hopefully he is not hurt.  In 2024 they get whacked with the portion of his signing bonus and option bonus that have not been amortized-about $50mm, plus Love’s 5th year salary.  Basically everyone else on the roster will be an UDFA.  
  • If they are playing nicely, Rodgers retires next year after June 1 and they can divide that hit over 2 years.  
  • Rodgers can also play for the Packers in 2024, but then he gets the $47mm in 2024 and more cap hit later.  

My Conclusions:

  • I don’t see how the Packers keep Rodgers.  They need to get a team to take him off their hands, take the cap hit for the signing bonus in 2023 and move on?  First round draft pick?  Please.  The Packers should be GIVING a first round draft pick to take this contract.
  • I don’t see why Rodgers would amend his contract to take less money?  Why?   What is in it for him?  
  • The Jets could pick up this mess assuming Rodgers plays two years.  The cap hits are actually not that bad-like $16mm in 2023 and $25mm in 2024.  But, assuming Rodgers plays nice and retires after that, the Jets will have about a $25mm cap hit in each of 2025 and 2026-the ultimate hangover.  They will also need to find a new QB and probably don’t want to be drafting one while Rodgers is playing.  
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Guys those of us saying the silence is telling, look at this. ironically today is the day allbright got the news A Rod would be returning to Greenbay: IMO if we don’t start hearing something about him returning in the next 48, he’s likely done in greenbay(Click the tweet and READ the replies)

 

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14 minutes ago, varjet said:

From my understanding, this article is “accurate” but short on detail.

The Packers got completely duped by this contract.   their only real way out is to trade him.  

The Packers are dealing with three big payments-Rodgers salary is relatively small.

  • Signing bonus-they paid him a $41mm signing bonus last year, and were able to allocate $27mm against the cap.  So they are allocating $14mm over the remaining 4 years of the contract.
  • 2023 Option Bonus-They owe Rodgers $58mm this year.  They can call it an option bonus and thus spread it over 4 years. 
  • 2024 Guarantee Bonus-if he is on the roster the week after the 2023-2024 Super Bowl, he is owed an other $47mm.   That can be paid as a bonus and allocated over the remaining 3 years of his contract.   If Rodgers gets injured he is on the roster and that bonus needs to be paid.  

Packers Options:

  • If they don’t trade him, he gets paid his bonus in 2023 and then they cut him after the Super Bowl. Hopefully he is not hurt.  In 2024 they get whacked with the portion of his signing bonus and option bonus that have not been amortized-about $50mm, plus Love’s 5th year salary.  Basically everyone else on the roster will be an UDFA.  
  • If they are playing nicely, Rodgers retires next year after June 1 and they can divide that hit over 2 years.  
  • Rodgers can also play for the Packers in 2024, but then he gets the $47mm in 2024 and more cap hit later.  

My Conclusions:

  • I don’t see how the Packers keep Rodgers.  They need to get a team to take him off their hands, take the cap hit for the signing bonus in 2023 and move on?  First round draft pick?  Please.  The Packers should be GIVING a first round draft pick to take this contract.
  • I don’t see why Rodgers would amend his contract to take less money?  Why?   What is in it for him?  
  • The Jets could pick up this mess assuming Rodgers plays two years.  The cap hits are actually not that bad-like $16mm in 2023 and $25mm in 2024.  But, assuming Rodgers plays nice and retires after that, the Jets will have about a $25mm cap hit in each of 2025 and 2026-the ultimate hangover.  They will also need to find a new QB and probably don’t want to be drafting one while Rodgers is playing.  

I agree that trading him is their best option but it is FAR more beneficial to do post June 1 UNLESS they literally decide to just tank to get a new QB next year. I do agree that their situation is so bad that the MAXIMUM trade compensation should be what we gave up for Favre

 

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19 minutes ago, oatmeal said:

Guys those of us saying the silence is telling, look at this. ironically today is the day allbright got the news A Rod would be returning to Greenbay: IMO if we don’t start hearing something about him returning in the next 48, he’s likely done in greenbay(Click the tweet and READ the replies)

 

for the technically challenged @The Crusher

 

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20 minutes ago, johnnysd said:

I agree that trading him is their best option but it is FAR more beneficial to do post June 1 UNLESS they literally decide to just tank to get a new QB next year. I do agree that their situation is so bad that the MAXIMUM trade compensation should be what we gave up for Favre

 

Not really. They benefit more by trading him early:

1. They get a draft pick THIS year instead of next year. Or if they take a draft pick next year instead, they'll get a bigger package (hey now).

2. Any accelerated cap hit (the $24MM that would've hit in 2024, that gets pushed to 2023) can be offset by restructuring someone else, or structuring new signings so they hit more - $24MM more - later rather than now. Six in one, half-dozen in the other.

3. The pool of potential trade partners is going to be that much less - ruining what leverage they have - if they wait until all QB-needy teams have signed or drafted a QB for 2023 already.

They're best off trading him immediately. Before new signings (so FAs know what's what & so the GM knows how to structure them best), and definitely before the 2023 draft.

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3 minutes ago, oatmeal said:

#TeamRodgers Sims is starting to sound a lot like us: “if not the Jets then who??” 
 

the funny thing is despite Florio naming every possible team and situation including a potential NFC forced trade, Sims still said the Jets is #1.. 
 

 

I’d rather take investment advice from MC Hammer than listen to anything Jet QB related from Phil Simms. 

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Not really. They benefit more by trading him early:
1. They get a draft pick THIS year instead of next year. Or if they take a draft pick next year instead, they'll get a bigger package (hey now).
2. Any accelerated cap hit (the $24MM that would've hit in 2024, that gets pushed to 2023) can be offset by restructuring someone else, or structuring new signings so they hit more - $24MM more - later rather than now. Six in one, half-dozen in the other.
3. The pool of potential trade partners is going to be that much less - ruining what leverage they have - if they wait until all QB-needy teams have signed or drafted a QB for 2023 already.
They're best off trading him immediately. Before new signings (so FAs know what's what & so the GM knows how to structure them best), and definitely before the 2023 draft.

Yup.

Agreed Cash is real. Cap can be manipulated. If they want to get a deal done, they likely do it in the next few weeks and get 2023 picks.

They have plenty of time to manipulate the cap to accommodate a trade.


Sent from my iPhone using JetNation.com mobile app
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Didn't really need a long-winded WSJ story about some obscure Packers fan for this.  Just hit overthecap.com or spotrac.com.  The numbers are all there.

But regardless, the analysis goes up in smoke with one word:  restructure

As long as his guaranteed numbers don't change, Rodgers would be willing to work with the Packers and whatever team he would be going to. 

He has acknowledged as much on the Pat McAfee show.

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Aaron Rodgers' contract is ridiculous. It's cap death in future years.

He's in sharp decline and if he's not good enough to be the Packers qb he's not good enough to be the Jets qb either 

Unless they assume some part of the up coming bonus I don't understand the attraction. Better than Zach, sure, but who isn't? 

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15 minutes ago, bitonti said:

Aaron Rodgers' contract is ridiculous. It's cap death in future years.

He's in sharp decline and if he's not good enough to be the Packers qb he's not good enough to be the Jets qb either 

Unless they assume some part of the up coming bonus I don't understand the attraction. Better than Zach, sure, but who isn't? 

Mike White

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The Packers Front Office wants to move on but my guess is that they don’t want to be embarrassed by the draft compensation.  They know the Jets are desperate for a QB like Rodgers and are playing chicken.

The Packers could give Rodgers away and justify it by the massive savings they will achieve by getting out of his awful contract, but admitting to the fan base that you entered into that awful contract is not helpful either.  Its like JD cleaning up Mac’s mess-this mess is of the current management’s making.  

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