The Green Bay Packers lead the NFL in scoring with 32.9 points per game. For the first time in franchise history, the squad has scored at least 24 points every single outing. The team is currently 7-0 coming out of their off-week, and is widely regarded as a favorite to, at the very least, make a second consecutive appearance in this year’s Super Bowl.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has had a lot to do with all of that.
For the season, last year’s Super Bowl MVP has put up 20 touchdowns, 2372 yards and only three interceptions. He has been universally recognized as the single most important force behind the best-in-league Packers offense and, with his quality play, has also masked some of the undeniable defensive weaknesses the defending champions have.
In a very thought-provoking piece, Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com pointed out that it’s only a matter of time before Rodgers’ contract becomes a hot conversation topic for all involved. He, with a contract signed back in 2008 worth about $65 million and approximately $20 million in guarantees, is vastly underpaid in today’s league.
During a recent interview with ESPN 540 this week, here is what Rodgers had to say on the matter:
"It's not something I think about. We were so blessed to be able to have that contract done in 2008. We knew at the time that was more money than I ever could have imagined signing for, and it was a no-brainer for me. But we knew if I performed the way I felt I was capable of performing, that by league standards that by the time I got into my third or fourth or fifth season, that I'd be underpaid by league standards.
"But I don't look at it that way. I look at it as I'm fortunate to make the kind of money I make and be in the situation I'm in and be with the Packers' organization. I want to retire as a Packer. They know that, the fans know that, my teammates know that, and this is where I want to be. I'm not worried about [a new contract.] We're still a few years away from me completing this deal, and whenever it comes time to make a new deal, I'm looking forward to maybe signing my last deal, playing it out, and retiring."
Clearly Rodgers has taken the same approach that tight end Jermichael Finley opted for as far as contract negotiations go. He’s not going to make a big thing out of it, and he’ll let the franchise do what’s right.
What’s right, of course, is rewarding the team’s biggest star and arguably the best quarterback in the league by paying him his true worth.
As it stands, Rodgers is not even amongst the top 15 best paid quarterbacks in the league in terms of guaranteed money. The likes of Kevin Kolb, Jay Cutler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Matt Cassel all rank above him.
The base salary Rodgers is slated to earn this season is $7.25 million. That sum will grow incrementally to $10.5 million by 2014.
Needless to say, the Packers are going to have to pull out the ol’ checkbook and rectify this situation sooner rather than later.
All of that being said, given the loyalty that players like Rodgers and Finley have shown Green Bay as of late, it’s doubtful that this will end with anything other than an amicable agreement between just about everyone involved.
Once that’s done and out of the way, it’ll serve as a longstanding model for precisely how compensation for effort, reliability and results can lead to prosperity for one and all in the NFL.