GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers could have opted out of the 2021 NFL season over fears of COVID-19 as a way to not return to the Green Bay Packers but also not pay through the nose via the fines and the returning of signing bonus.
Rodgers did not jump through that loophole.
According to a source, Rodgers did not opt out by Friday’s deadline.
On Saturday, Proactive Sports Performance posted a photo of Rodgers working out alongside other NFL players.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio presented the intriguing but unlikely possibility of Rodgers opting out. As noted by Florio, it would have been a major financial victory for Rodgers if he was 100 percent set on not returning to the Packers.
“The benefit to doing so comes from the fact that he would not forfeit $11.5 million in unearned signing bonus money for 2021 if he opts out. Also, he presumably would still receive the payments on the $6.8 million roster bonus that he earned in March, and that is due to be paid out in weekly installments during the season.
“That’s $18.3 million that he’ll keep by opting out. If he doesn’t opt out but holds out, he loses that $18.3 million — and would be fined roughly $2 million on top of it for skipping training camp.”
There would have been a financial victory – if not an on-the-field victory – for the Packers, as well, had Rodgers opted out. As noted by OverTheCap.com’s Jason Fitzgerald, Rodgers’ cap charge for 2021 would have dropped from $36.702 million to $6.8 million, a savings of $29.902 million. That would have been a financial windfall that could have been used for contract extensions (Davante Adams or Jaire Alexander) or simply carried forward to next season, when Green Bay is a league-worst $35.28 million over the established cap ceiling of $208.2 million.
But, Rodgers didn’t opt out by Friday’s deadline. That decision is final.
Training camp will begin on July 27. If Rodgers doesn’t show up, he will be fined $50,000 per day. That’s the NFL’s policy, so those fines can’t just be swept under the rug by the team. However, if Rodgers were to return on, say, the day after joint practices against the Jets on Aug. 18 and Aug. 19 with a contract extension, those fines could be included as additional signing bonus.
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