Rodgers signed, sealed and delivered

Mr. Rodgers' neighborhood is officially based at 1265 Lombardi Ave.

The Green Bay Packers' first-round pick agreed to contract terms with the team Saturday, and the quarterback is expected to be on the practice field Sunday morning.

With Rodgers under contract, all of the Packers' rookies have signed.

The signing was a lightning bolt out of the blue. His agent, Mike Sullivan, said as recently as Friday that the two sides were nowhere close to a deal.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel broke the news on Saturday afternoon, and the Packers confirmed the signing that evening. According to the newspaper, Rodgers agreed to a five-year contract.

The negotiations were sticky. While most first-round picks are slotted — the No. 23 pick makes more than the No. 24 pick, who makes more than the No. 25 pick, etc. — Rodgers was worthy of a bigger contract simply because he plays quarterback.

As expected, the contract is based on what Buffalo gave to J.P. Losman last year. Losman was the Bills' first-round pick in 2004, going 22nd. Losman agreed to a five-year package worth $7.7 million. Losman watched from the bench last year but is expected to be the starter this season. If he remains the starter and matches expectations, he could make nearly $30 million.

Rodgers' situation, of course, has a few differences.

While Rodgers fell into Green Bay's lap at No. 24, he was considered a possible No. 1 overall pick but lost out on the honor to Utah QB Alex Smith, who went first to San Francisco. Circumstances, namely the fact the teams at the top of the draft had more pressing needs than a quarterback and the teams lower in the round didn't need a passer at all, resulted in Rodgers falling. Certainly, his talent was judged to be higher than No. 24.

Also, while Losman was expected to become the Bills' starter sooner rather than later, the situation is much more murky for Rodgers. There's no telling when incumbent Brett Favre will retire. It could be after this season. It could be after 2006 or 2007.

Thus, the Packers wanted to keep Rodgers' salary low until the day comes when Favre retires and Rodgers takes the offense's reins. While contract specifics have not been announced, it's safe to assume Rodgers will get a significant pay increase when, and if, he becomes the starter.

Interestingly, Losman and the Bills will be visiting Green Bay this week for practices Thursday and Friday as well as Saturday's Family Night scrimmage.

With Rodgers signed without missing too much practice time, the battle quickly will heat up between Rodgers and incumbent No. 2 quarterback Craig Nall.

Nall shined during brief mop-up appearances last season but has thrown too many interceptions during the minicamps and has struggled at times during the early days of training camp.

One wild card in all of this is who will hold for kicker Ryan Longwell. The favorite to man that role is punter B.J. Sander, but he must make the roster, first. Longwell struggled with Nall as a holder during the minicamps, kicking at least one ball off the rear end of a lineman. Longwell, meanwhile, formed a quick chemistry with Rodgers.

If Rodgers and Nall are close to even at the end of camp — and if Sander fails to win the punting job — Rodgers could be the backup simply because he's the better holder. The Packers, like most teams, prefer to deactivate the No. 3 quarterback to free up a game-day roster spot for an extra position player.

"I'm not going to be No. 1, but I'm going to try and contribute to this team anyway I can," Rodgers said during the June minicamp. "If that means starting the season at No. 3, that's fine. Craig's a great quarterback, he's been here for four years, he's a great backup, and we'll see what happens."

Rodgers was a first-team all-conference player at California last season. In two years as a starter, Rodgers completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 5,469 yards, 43 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He tied an NCAA record by completing 25 consecutive passes against eventual national champion USC.


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