Deals For Rodgers, Matthews Are Big Deal

With contract extensions for Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews on the horizon, the Packers will face a new dynamic in building a team. Among the issues, here's a big one: Combined, they'll take up about 31 percent of the salary cap.

Contract extensions for quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews are going to drastically reshape the salary structure for the Green Bay Packers.

According to ESPN.com, Rodgers is seeking $25 million a year and the Packers are offering $23 million a year. Either way, Rodgers would become the highest-paid player in NFL history. Also according to ESPN.com, Matthews' deal could be worth $13 million per season.

Added together, that would be about $38 million per season. To put that into necessary perspective, Rodgers' cap number for this season is $9.75 million and Matthews' cap number is $4.91 million. Combined, that's $14.66 million. That would be an increase of 259 percent.

Or, to put it in another way, they'd take up about 30.9 percent of the salary cap, based on this year's $123 million ceiling.

For a final perspective, there's this: The difference is $23.34 million per season. That's the equivalent of the cap numbers of Tramon Williams ($8.5 million), Ryan Pickett ($6.7 million) and B.J. Raji ($6.6 million). Those are the three most-expensive players (in 2013 cap dollars) behind Rodgers; they count $22 million this season.

At $17.7 million under the cap, the Packers are in good shape for now — though they'll need about $4 million or $5 million to sign the rookie class. While nothing drastic will need to be done to absorb Rodgers' and Matthews' new deals for this season, the Packers at some point are going to have no choice but to either get rid of some high-priced players or let a few walk when they become free agents.

In fact, there's little doubt that the Rodgers and Matthews extensions are the major reason why the Packers refused to get into a bidding war for Greg Jennings.

The extensions also explain why the Packers are looking closely at this year's tight end and inside linebacker prospects, a source told Packer Report last week.

Tight end Jermichael Finley is entering his final season under contract with a cap charge of $8.75 million. If he has a disappointing season, the Packers won't want him back. If he has a big season, the Packers probably won't be able to afford him.

At inside linebacker, A.J. Hawk's revised contract still counts for $5.2 million in 2013 and $5.1 million in 2014 and 2015; Desmond Bishop counts $4.464 million in 2013 and $4.822 million in 2014; and Brad Jones counts $2.5 million in 2013, $4 million in 2013 and $4.75 million in 2015.

Plus, more big-money contracts are on the horizon, leading with Raji, who is entering the final year of his deal. James Jones is entering his final year under contract and Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are up after 2014. They're the only three proven receivers on the roster and they're a relative bargain at a combined cap charge of $8.6 million for this season. Cornerback Sam Shields, who will be an unrestricted free agent after 2013, figures to get a significant raise after presumably playing this season at the restricted free agent tender of $2.023 million.

Ted Thompson's challenge as general manager was to build a perennial winner. Mission accomplished. Now, the challenge is to keep the team on top.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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