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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group

Aaron Rodgers’ guaranteed salary provides another big hurdle in trade talks with Jets

There are a lot of factors potentially complicating trade talks between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Jets. One of which could be how each team wants to handle the $59.5 million guaranteed salary that Aaron Rodgers is owed in 2023.

For the Packers, they find themselves low on cap space once again. Currently, Over the Cap has them projected to have $24.16 million in available space – although the recent free-agent signings are not accounted for yet. Then once Rodgers is traded, his $31.6 million cap hit will jump to $40.3 million in dead cap, reducing the Packers’ cap space down to roughly $15.4 million.

If, as part of the deal with the Jets, the Packers take on any portion of Rodgers’ guaranteed salary, the already massive dead cap hit will increase dollar for dollar with what Green Bay pays for. So, for example, if the Packers pay $10 million of the $59.5 million that is guaranteed, Rodgers leaves behind a dead cap hit of $50.3 million. If you think the Packers are low on cap space now, just wait until this scenario becomes a reality.

On the flip side, to acquire Rodgers, the cap hit that the Jets have to absorb is only $15.79 million–a very reasonable number. But in terms of cash spent, they would be paying him nearly $60 million just for this season. With New York already having to send draft capital to Green Bay and, who knows, maybe a player, the Jets could be trying to offload some of those guaranteed dollars onto the Packers to lessen the burden a little bit.

Even for Aaron Rodgers, paying $59.5 million to one player is a big financial commitment, especially when that player is 39 years old and may only be around for the 2023 season. New York could also be working with Rodgers to restructure his contract once acquired to help make it a bit more team-friendly. It’s not as if the Jets are flush with cap space, either.

So you can see why from each team’s perspective, this aspect of Rodgers’ contract could be holding things up, and depending on how this bill is distributed, it could have a big impact on what the final trade compensation looks like.

If Green Bay is willing to pick up a portion of that tab, the draft capital they receive in return from the Jets will likely increase. For New York, if they end up having to pay the entire $59.5 million, they will likely want the Packers’ asking price to reflect that.

As always, in negotiations of this magnitude, there is give and take. Sure, the Packers want the best trade package that they can get, but they aren’t exactly in a position to be taking on more dead cap. Forget free agent signings; they need to make sure they have enough cap space for regular operating expenses that are incoming, such as the draft class, practice squad, the final two players on the 53-man roster, and reserves for any in-season additions. On top of that, Green Bay should still be trying to put the best team that they can around Jordan Love as he navigates his first season as a starter.

Two factors that the Packers have going for them right now in negotiations that the Jets don’t is time – there is no rush for Green Bay – and a starting quarterback for Week 1. After how all of this has played out, Jets GM Joe Douglas having anyone else but Rodgers under center in 2023 would be viewed as a massive failure.

As Adam Schefter said, there are a number of layers that come with pulling off this trade, and Rodgers’ guaranteed salary is not only one of those layers, but it’s a big one and a complicated one.

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