When is a $110 million contract a bargain? How about in the case of Aaron Rodgers, who Friday agreed to a five-year extension worth that sum of money.
Rodgers's deal tacks two years onto his previous contract, keeping him under contract for the next seven seasons at an average of a little less than $19 million per year -- well shy of the $20.1 million Joe Flacco will earn on average, though Rodgers can tout the $22 million average on his extension as making him the highest-paid player in NFL history. Flacco's cap hit also escalates to $27 million in the fourth year of his contract; Rodgers never eclipses $21 million.
So, rather remarkably, the Packers managed to give Rodgers the richest contract extension in NFL history while keeping their books in line.
But Rodgers and Flacco are just a couple of QBs who will require new or reworked contracts in the near future. That list includes the following signal-callers, who no doubt kept an eye on the Rodgers situation:
• Matt Ryan, Falcons: Probably the next big quarterback deal to get done, the 27-year-old Ryan has just one year remaining on his current contract and has already begun talks with Atlanta. Reports from early April had Ryan targeting a contract somewhat close to Flacco's deal -- six years, $120.6 million and $52 million guaranteed. The $22 million-per-year number on Rodgers's extension could set the ceiling for Ryan.
• Matthew Stafford, Lions: Stafford told reporters earlier this month he would like "fair market value" on an extension. And the Lions no doubt would prefer to get a deal done soon -- Stafford has two years left at $12.5 million and $11 million in base salary, respectively, plus a $15 million club option for 2015. Barring an MVP season or Super Bowl run, fair market value for Stafford figures to come in a little south of the Flacco-Rodgers-Ryan trio.
• Jay Cutler, Bears: Cutler may be in the most tenuous situation of any entrenched QB. At 29 years of age, he's entering the final season of a five-year, $49.7 million deal and he is about to take on a new offense with a new coach. Should he and the Bears flop this coming season, could Cutler head out? He's said multiple times he does not expect a contract extension, which will put him in a similar boat to the one Flacco sailed in for 2012. Of course, Flacco produced a Super Bowl win under those circumstances.
• Eli Manning, Giants: The star of a QB group with contracts expiring prior to the 2016 season -- Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Sam Bradford technically could hit free agency that offseason, as could any of last year's rookies (Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III). So, there figures to be a flurry of activity with regards to all those contracts in the coming years.
Manning currently makes the most of any name listed there, though he is already 32 years old. It may, in fact, wind up being Luck, Griffin, Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson that challenges the current elite QB contracts. Rodgers, Ryan and Flacco have raised the bar for quarterback contracts. Will someone from either the NFL's aging set of quarterbacks or the new gaggle of stars challenge it in the near future?