Green Bay Packers: Expiring Superstar Contracts Is a Nightmare Scenario

Adam BayerContributor IIIMarch 27, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 15:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks on against the New York Giants during their NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 15, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers are blessed with a lot of talented players. Everyone knows that quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the best in the league. Clay Matthews is a freak of nature at the outside linebacker position. Finally, defensive tackle B.J. Raji is a mammoth of a man who clogs the middle of the Packers 3-4 defensive scheme. All three of them are vital pieces to the Packers' success puzzle and fans hope they will all retire as Packers.

But one question is in the back of many minds: How do we keep all of them? Rodgers is on a $66 million contract through 2014, while Matthews and Raji are signed through 2013.

So, how do the Packers afford to keep them all? Aaron Rodgers will most certainly seek a seven or eight year deal worth more than $120 million and the Packers absolutely need to keep him no matter the price. So with him locked up and the publicly owned Packers' cap space, the team might only be able to keep one of Matthews or Raji.

Who would the Packers keep if the cap becomes strained?

In my personal opinion, Green Bay must keep Clay Matthews. Don't get me wrong, the defense needs Raji, but he seems to get handled rather easily at times. Watching almost every Packer game this past season, Raji was invisible at times, mostly due to the fact that he's played 86 percent of the snaps since his rookie year.

Matthews, on the other hand, is the single most important factor on the defense. When he doesn't get to the QB, they seem to be able to throw at will. The lack of significant pass rush from the other linebacker spot is the main culprit. If the Packers can add a stud linebacker to pair with him this off-season, Matthews will be back to his old self.

So, with all the factors added in, Raji might be the one the Packers let walk. With Rodgers and Matthews undoubtedly getting huge paydays and Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings' contracts coming up soon (in two years and next season, respectively), there may not be enough money to go around.

Defensive tackles in the 3-4 scheme are as important as any position on defense; however, it's a lot easier to find a starter quality defensive tackle than an outside linebacker capable of getting to the quarterback.

With that said, who would you keep?