The Packers currently have Aaron Rodgers on a year-to-year arrangement, given the dynamics of his contract. By not restructuring it, the Packers continue to have one-season-at-a-time flexibility with Rodgers.
That’s the biggest takeaway from Monday’s news that the Packers and Rodgers were discussing a restructuring and Tuesday’s news that he was paid a $6.8 million roster bonus. If his 2021 compensation had instead become a $1.075 million base salary with the rest paid out as a signing bonus, the Packers could have created maximum 2021 cap space at no expense.
Adding a pair of voidable years would have spread the allocation over five years, making the 2021 cap number as low as possible.
Here’s the math. Rodgers has a $14.7 million salary and a $6.8 million roster bonus. That’s $21.5 million in compensation. With the minimum base salary of $1.075 million, the balance of $20.425 million could have been treated as a signing bonus. Adding two voidable years would have created $16.34 million in 2021 cap space.
That also would have dramatically increased the cap consequences of trading Rodgers after 2021. Already, the Packers would incur $17.204 million in dead money if the Packers trade him before June 1, 2022. A full restructuring would have increased the cost of a pre-June 1, 2022 trade to $33.544 million.
Thus, even without getting another penny from the Packers, a maximum restructuring would have essentially tied Rodgers to the Packers for at least two more seasons.
A restructuring remains possible with his $14.7 million base salary. Removing the $1.075 million and converting the $13.625 million base salary into a signing bonus, $10.9 million in cap space would be created. This would result in a cap charge of $28.104 million for a pre-June 1, 2022 trade.
Again, Rodgers benefits from such a transaction, since it will make it harder for the Packers to trade him next year. Whether and to what extent a restructuring happens could become an important clue regarding whether the Packers will retain an easier path to deciding that the Jordan Love era should commence in 2022, the third season of his NFL career.