Although Rodgers hasn't yet made a decision about his future, it appears he has made a decision about how much he thinks he should be paid in 2022. According to ESPN's Dianna Russini, the Packers quarterback is looking for a new deal that will pay him more money per year than any other player in NFL history.
"He wants to be the highest-paid player in the NFL by a wide margin, so we're talking about $50 million per year," Russini said this week on "The Rich Eisen Show."
Rodgers was asked on Friday about the speculation that he wanted to be the highest-paid player by a wide margin and he told Pat McAfee that the report was "categorically false." Of course, this could be simple semantics. Rodgers might want to be the highest-paid player, but he might be fine with $46 million per year instead of $50 million per year.
Russini also reported this week that multiple teams have already called the Packers about possibly be making a trade for their star quarterback. If Rodgers is seeking something in the neighborhood of $50 million per year, that will definitely add an interesting twist to any trade talks the Packers might have.
If the Packers are willing to give Rodgers a salary anywhere near $50 million, it would instantly make him the NFL's highest-paid player. The current title of highest-paid player belongs to Patrick Mahomes, who signed a 10-year, $450 million extension in July that could pay out as much as $503 million.
Of course, if the Packers do give Rodgers a new deal that pays him anywhere in that neighborhood, they're going to have to work some serious salary cap magic to make it happen. The Packers are currently nearly $40 million OVER the cap and that doesn't even include the cap hit that will come if they re-sign or tag Davante Adams.
The one upside to giving Rodgers a huge deal is that it would actually help them with cap space for 2022. Under his current deal, Rodgers has a cap hit of nearly $47 million for the upcoming season, but if he gets a new contract, the Packers could probably shave $20 million to $25 million (or more) off that cap hit.
Although Rodgers' reported asking price sounds astronomical, it's arguably a fair market price for a guy who has won back-to-back MVP awards. Also, don't be surprised if the Packers MEET his asking price. The NFL's official website reported on Super Bowl Sunday that the Packers would be willing to offer Rodgers "a deal that makes him the highest-paid QB in the NFL on a per-year basis."
The Packers' front office has been adamant all offseason that it wants Rodgers back and if the Packers are willing to put their money where their mouth is, then it seems more likely than not that Rodgers would return to Green Bay. During all their drama with Rodgers last offseason, the Packers actually had an offer on the table that would have made Rodgers the highest-paid player in the NFL, but the QB turned it down in a decision that may have had something to do with the structure of the deal (For instance, we don't know how much of the deal was guaranteed or if Rodgers would have had any security beyond the first year.)
Rodgers likely isn't making his decision based on money, but if he does return, it seems that he wants to make sure he's paid at the market rate. The Packers are going to need to know soon if they're going to have to cut him a $50 million check because it's going to be hard for them to get anything else done this offseason until they know what he's going to do, which is a fact that general manager Brian Gutekunst acknowledged this week.
"Obviously everything around here centers around the quarterback," Gutekunst said, via NFL.com. "That's kind of how we do things. It's a big piece. It's a domino that has to fall before we go down other avenues. So it's important as we go through this and the puzzle pieces that we got to make fit. That's the first one to go. … There's some timing elements to things. We've had really good conversations with Aaron and everybody throughout the process."
It's still unknown what Rodgers is going to do this year, but if he does return to the NFL for another season, you can bet it will be as the highest-paid player in the league.