With the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers stumbling through the 2022 season I have started to get a number of questions pertaining to Rodgers and his contract. Rodgers signed a massive three year contract worth $150.8 million with virtually the entire contract guaranteed for injury and over $100 million fully guaranteed. Due to the size of the contract it is a complex deal and questions are being asked about his future and the Packers options with the salary cap, so I will try to explain the contract as best as possible given the information I have on the deal.
Rodgers currently has a salary cap charge of $31.6 million in 2023. $59.465 million of his $59.515 million salary for the year is already guaranteed. The Packers have the option to pay that salary out as a $58.3 million option bonus and a $1.165 million salary in order to drive his cap charge to the $31.6 million figure. The timing of the option works in the Packers favor for both trades and/or potential retirement as the official option decision does not have to happen until the start of the 2023 regular season.
What Happens in Aaron Rodgers Retires?
If Rodgers were to walk away he would forfeit all his rights to the $59.465 million in guaranteed salary for next year. In order to best accommodate the hit on the salary cap my assumption would be that the Packers and Rodgers would sign a new contract where the option bonus was eliminated and just a $1.165 salary remained. That would reduce Rodgers salary cap charge to $16,998,750 and they would carry him on the roster as a procedural move until June 2nd. At that point they would put him on the retired list. The salary cap charge in that case would be $15,833,570 in 2023 and $24,480,000 in 2024.
If they did not do that and processed the retirement right away they would take a salary cap hit of $40,313,570 in 2023 but none in 2024. The Packers have no cap space next year so it would seem more likely that they take the first approach.
What Happens if the Packers Trade Aaron Rodgers?
Rodgers does not have a no trade clause in his contract so he could be traded to a team as well. The timing of the option should give the Packers all the way until the end of training camp to move him. The cap charge here would depend on when he was traded. If Rodgers were to be traded prior to June 1st the Packers would take on a $40,313,750 cap hit in 2023. If he was traded after June 1st it would be a $15,833,570 cap hit in 2023 with $24,480,000 due in 2024. This assumes that the Packers did not exercise the option before the trade. If the option is exercised then the trade number spikes to nearly $100 million. There should be no need to exercise the option until the last possible day.
For the team acquiring Rodgers they would be on the hook for the salary for the year. The cap charge would be $59,515,000 if they do not exercise his option and $15.79 million if they were to exercise the option. Rodgers has an injury guarantee of $49.25 million for 2024 but that does not become fully guaranteed until 5 days after the 2023 Super Bowl. If Rodgers was cut after 2023 it would cost the team $43.725 million on the 2024 cap. If he retired they could split that as $14.575 million in 2024 and $29.15 million in 2025 using a similar June 2nd date as mentioned above in the retirement option.
Can Aaron Rodgers be Cut?
No that is not a feasible option. Because his salary next year is fully guaranteed the Packers would take on over $99 million in dead money. While they could officially pick up the option and split that across 2023 and 2024 it would be about $31 million in dead money in 2023 and then $68.2 million coming in 2024.