Wednesday was an eventful day for the NFL. There were two trades involving quarterbacks and, of course, the big news of Aaron Rodgers’ historic contract extension. All these moves signified something or answered looming questions. Let’s take a look at each move.
Aaron Rodgers Contract Extension
The contract has been in the works for a while now, but the Green Bay Packers and the superstar quarterback were finally able to agree to make the 34-year-old Rodgers the highest paid player in NFL history. It’s a four-year extension worth $134 million, with $103 million fully guaranteed, which is easily an NFL record. Rodgers will get signing bonus just short of $60 million, with a total of around $67 million in his hands by the end of the calendar year. And by St. Patrick’s Day in 2019, he will have received around $80 million total.
This comes on the heels of Odell Beckham Jr.’s historic five-year $95 million extension with the New York Giants, which is the most ever for a wide receiver. It was a long time coming and much deserved for Rodgers. Taking into account the remaining two years he currently has left; his total deal is now six-years for a whopping $174.8 million.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, he is one of just four quarterbacks to throw at least 40 touchdowns in a season at least twice, and one of only nine players to have multiple MVPs. He also has the best career passer rating of any quarterback, the single best statistical season for a QB (back in 2011) and the best touchdown-to-interception ratio by a long mile at 4:1.
The $33.5 million per year is a significant raise on the $22 million per year from his previous contract. And contrary to what one would typically think, Rodgers did no soak up all the Packers’ cap space with the deal. According to Tom Pelissero, Rodgers’ previous deal took up 17.8% of the cap, and this one is just a one percent increase at 18.9%.
Plus, the Packers have not proven to be adept enough to surround him with the necessary talent needed to help him win the Super Bowl anyway, so there’s no real reason to leave money on the table, especially if you are worthy of it. He does not owe the franchise anything. Rodgers is the most valuable player in the sport; he is the best player, and talent, at the game’s most crucial position. Without him, the Packers are an irrelevant team on the field, and one of the worst rosters in the NFL.
It looks like Aaron Rodgers is going to be a Packer for life. Maybe now he can afford to repay teammate Davante Adams the $20 he owes him.
Backup QB trades
Sticking with Green Bay quarterbacks, the Packers decided to ship out Brett Hundley to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for a 2019 draft pick. The former UCLA quarterback was thrown into action last year after Rodgers hurt his collarbone. He appeared in 11 games, starting nine, and threw for 1,836 yards, nine touchdowns, and 12 interceptions, while completing 60.8% of his passes and fumbling four times (recovering one).
He had his moments, but he mainly struggled and looked overmatched. During this year’s preseason, Hundley completed 23 of 37 passes for 263 yards with a touchdown and interception apiece. His time in college showed that he has talent and getting a year of experience under his belt should help the game slow down for him. Or at least that’s what the Seahawks are hoping for. He will most likely be battling with Austin Davis for the backup role to Russell Wilson.
But the big trade that happened was the one that finally ended the Teddy Bridgewater saga, in a way. The 25-year-old was traded from the New York Jets to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a third-round pick. He was of the main talking points of the NFL offseason because everyone wondered how the Jets’ quarterback situation was going to be handled. They had two capable starting passers in Bridgewater and Josh McCown, with rookie Sam Darnold waiting in the wings to take over the franchise soon.
However, Bridgewater is a proven quality game manager that has led a team to the playoffs in the past. He was viewed by many as the best of the three, currently, and more of trade bait, which is what the franchise ultimately used him as.
It’s a win-win deal for both teams. The Jets turned a $1 million investment into an extra Day 2 pick to help with the rebuild. And now, they have no reason not to start Sam Darnold from Week 1 because the decision was made easier for them. And the Saints get a capable backup, perhaps the best backup in the league. God forbid Drew Brees gets hurt. But if he does, the Saints will have the luxury of turning to someone who can legitimately start in the NFL.
It’s disappointing for Teddy because he lost his starting job due to injury a few years ago and it finally looked like he would have returned to a starting gig, either with the Jets or a team they traded him to, but it turns out he will be backing up Brees. But, that may not necessarily be a bad thing.
Bridgewater was a game-manager with the Vikings, but that was mainly because head coach Mike Zimmer wanted to constrain the offensive gameplan for the young QB. Now he goes to arguably the best offensive scheme in the game under elite offensive head coach Sean Payton and can learn from all-time great Drew Brees.
The field will be more open, the play more explosive, and he will be allowed to be more aggressive and put up numbers more efficiently when on the field. He will no doubt improve in this system. The Saints have excellent weapons in their receivers and terrific running backs who also happen to be young. Combining all this, Teddy Bridgewater could be the heir apparent to the 39-year-old Brees.
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