With a $110 million contract, Aaron Rodgers is both highly paid and a huge bargain.
First, the highly paid: In terms of total value, Rodgers is the NFL’s second-highest paid quarterback behind Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, whose contract is worth just less than $123 million. For average per year, Rodgers’ $22 million ranks fifth, with Luck’s $24.6 million leading the way. The $54 million of guaranteed money still ranks No. 1 among quarterbacks.
Now, the huge bargain: Last year, Rodgers' cap charge of $19.25 million ranked 10th among quarterbacks. Among those ahead of him, Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, Washington’s Kirk Cousins and Carolina’s Cam Newton didn’t make the playoffs and Tony Romo didn’t figure in Dallas’ success. This year, Rodgers’ cap number increases to $20.3 million. That’s tied for the sixth-highest cap charge at the position – not a bad deal for one of the best players in the league.
Rodgers’ deal is set to expire after the 2019 season. Asked about his contract on Tuesday, he didn’t seem bothered by a contract that makes him relatively underpaid.
“When it comes to setting the market values, I let that stuff take care of itself,” Rodgers said. “I know my value in this league and I know the team appreciates me. I’m going to continue to make myself an indispensable part of this roster. When you do that, when your time comes up to get a contract, you usually get a contract extension.”
Here are the nine quarterbacks with cap charges of at least $20 million for this season:
Joe Flacco, Baltimore, $24.55 million: Baltimore won the Super Bowl in 2012 but Flacco – and the Ravens – have struggled since. Over the last four seasons, Flacco has thrown 80 touchdown passes vs. 61 interceptions, with the Ravens qualifying for the playoffs once in that span. His rating of 83.5 in 2016 ranked 24th.
Carson Palmer, Arizona, $24.13 million: Palmer went from third with a passer rating of 104.6 in 2015 to 20th with a rating of 87.2 in 2016. In 13 seasons, the 37-year-old Palmer has played in only four playoff games. Excluding 2014, when he played in only six games, Palmer has just one season with a passer rating of better than 88 since 2006.
Kirk Cousins, Washington, $23.94 million: Cousins finished seventh in the NFL in passer rating with a mark of 97.2. However, in his two seasons as a full-time starter, his record is a ho-hum 17-14-1.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta, $23.75 million: Ryan led the NFL with a 117.1 passer rating, won MVP honors and lifted the Falcons to the Super Bowl. It was the long-awaited breakout season for Ryan, who had posted an 18-30 record the previous three seasons. Ryan threw 38 touchdowns vs. seven interceptions last year compared to 75 touchdowns and 47 interceptions the previous three years.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit, $22 million: Stafford ranked 13th in the NFL in passer rating with a mark of 93.3. In eight seasons, Stafford’s record is 51-58 and he’s led the Lions to the postseason only three times; Detroit was one-and-done in each postseason appearance. He is 3-10 against Green Bay, with one of those wins coming against Matt Flynn in 2013. Two of the losses came in Week 17 games that decided the NFC North.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay, $20.3 million: Rodgers, who is the NFL’s all-time leader in passer rating, finished fourth in that stat last year (104.2) while pacing the NFL in touchdown passes (40). The two-time MVP has sent Green Bay to the playoffs in each of the past eight seasons, tied with New England for the longest streak in the league.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami, $20.3 million: Tannehill ranked 12th in the NFL in passer rating with a mark of 93.5. In five seasons, Tannehill’s record is 37-40. He’s thrown at least 12 interceptions in each of those seasons. Rodgers, by contrast, hasn’t thrown more than eight interceptions since 2010.
Cam Newton, Carolina, $20.17 million: In 2015, Carolina went 15-1 as Newton posted a 99.4 passer rating en route to MVP honors. In 2016, the Panthers plunged to 6-10 as Newton ranked 28th with a rating of 75.8. He went from 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions to 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Newton completed only 52.9 percent of his passes, the worst rate in the league. The middle-of-the-pack quarterback was Luck at 63.8 percent.
Philip Rivers, L.A. Chargers, $20 million: Rivers finished 19th in the NFL in passer rating with a mark of 87.9. He threw a league-high 21 interceptions. That’s as many as the best five quarterbacks in the league combined, and more than Rodgers’ 20 from the past three seasons combined. He’s led the Chargers to the playoffs just once over the past seven seasons.
Of the top nine quarterbacks in cap, only Rodgers and Flacco have won a Super Bowl. Four quarterbacks (Ryan, Stafford, Rodgers and Tannehill) got their teams into the playoffs. The MVPs are Rodgers (twice), Ryan and Newton.
If Rodgers is a bargain, then Tom Brady is a steal. Brady’s cap number for 2017 is $14 million – which is tied with Chicago’s Mike Glennon for 19th and less than, comically, Cleveland’s Brock Osweiler ($16 million).
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.