Aaron Rodgers soon to become NFL's highest-paid quarterback

Expect Rodgers' deal to surpass Joe Flacco's. (USATSI)

It won't be too long before Aaron Rodgers becomes the highest-paid player in NFL history. It could be a week or two. Perhaps a month or two.


But given the ongoing negotiations between the star quarterback and the Packers, the progress to this point and the accepted reality between the sides that Rodgers is going to eclipse in most every way the recent record contract signed by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, it's only a matter of time before he becomes the league's first $25-million a year man, or damn close to it.


It will happen this offseason and after the rumblings I've heard the last few weeks, including the league meetings in Arizona last week, I would not be surprised if a deal was struck before the draft. Green Bay also has to figure out a way to extend Clay Matthews, who could be in line to become the highest-paid defensive player in league history, as well as defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who will require an extension as well (interestingly enough, all three players are represented by Athlete's First, the mega-agency run by David Dunn).


The small-market Packers need to figure out their budget and cap situation for the coming seasons. Always needing to prepare ahead of time, and with record-setting contracts ahead, the sooner that picture clears up the better. And, just as eagerly, other teams and agents are waiting to see exactly how much coin Rodgers gets, because his deal will have an immediate trickle-down impact on a group of other young quarterbacks seeking extensions of their own, most notably Atlanta starter Matt Ryan.


There isn't a hard and fast timetable for completion at this point. But sources said it's conceivable the final hurdles will be overcome in short order. There has been a strong buzz in the agent community that this new benchmark will be set sooner rather than later, and no one with knowledge of the negotiations would call a deal imminent at this point, but they would not dispute that everything is pointing to this being resolved this spring.


It's hard to imagine a scenario in which Rodgers isn't shattering the benchmarks for salary per year and guaranteed salary ($65 million? $70 million?). If the deal is structured similarly to those of Drew Brees and Flacco -- the two most recent top quarterback contracts -- then you could expect the payout over the first three years of new money to be truly massive.


The Packers know it and now with the team completing its cap cuts and doing its normal restrained tap dance through free agency, the franchise's attention will be focused on securing its quarterback's services for the bulk of his career.


Rodgers is currently scheduled to earn just $9.75 million this season and $11 million in 2014, the final years of his current deal (and it could end up that those salaries don't change all that drastically. But with a series of huge bonuses sprinkled in future years -- when the cap should finally budge some -- to provide some short-term relief.


Packers coach Mike McCarthy didn't try to hide the significance of resolving the Rodgers situation when I asked him about it at the owners meetings in Arizona last week, saying it's "obviously important" and it's the primary focus of the organization's financial people at this point. While the coaching staff isn't sweating the details, McCarthy said there is a sense that it will get done.


"I have great confidence in (general manager) Ted Thompson, and (chief negotiator) Russ Ball and (team president) Mark Murphy, that they can get these things done," McCarthy said.


They have to. There is no counter-argument.


There really isn't a knock you can find on Rodgers. He's 29 and still well in his prime considering guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning had MVP-type seasons in their mid-30s. Rodgers handled with aplomb falling down the draft board and landing with a team with a Hall of Fame quarterback in Brett Favre. He also displayed maturity and poise in rising above Favre's childish treatment of him as a backup, and has done nothing but shine since taking over the reins for the Packers, including signing a very team-friendly new deal in November of 2008, relatively shortly after establishing himself as one of the most talented youngsters in the game.

CBS Sports Insider

Before joining CBS Sports, Jason La Canfora was the Washington Redskins beat writer for The Washington Post for six years and served as NFL Network's insider. The Baltimore native can be seen every Sunday... Full Bio

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