It seems silly to say, but at $9.75 million for next year, Aaron Rodgers is ridiculously underpaid. The Green Bay Packers franchise quarterback is still playing under a contract extension he signed in 2008.
Entering into the final two seasons of that contract, Rodgers and the Packers now must come together and hammer out a deal that should see Rodgers' salary rise drastically. Helping Green Bay four straight seasons with double digit wins, the quarterback's play has certainly been deserving of a raise.
Following Joe Flacco's big payday, the question arises for the Packers. How much money is Rodgers really worth?
To assess Rodgers' full value, it's important to understand how much other top quarterbacks are getting paid. Here's a look at the top deals in terms of average salary:
Looking at that list, what first jumps out is the one thing these players have in common: a Super Bowl victory. Rodgers already has his first.
Over the last three seasons, nobody on that list has had close to the same amount of success as Rodgers. While E. Manning and Flacco have each matched his Super Bowl, Rodgers has consistently delivered in the regular season on a different level.
Overall, Rodgers has been the best player in the league. It's save to say he deserves to be paid as such.
If Joe Flacco is worth an average $20.1 million per year over his deal, it's scary to think about Rodgers' true value. While his deal likely won't show how much better he is than Flacco, Rodgers will definitely be making more.
Bleacher Report's Zach Kruse captured Adam Schefter's thoughts on Rodgers' likely deal:
On NFL Live, @adamschefter says Aaron Rodgers' extension will likely be in the range of four years and $100 million.— Zach Kruse (@zachkruse2) March 19, 2013
At $25 million per year, Rodgers would be the highest paid player by just about $5 million. That seems to be fair considering Rodgers' worth and what a team can realistically afford to pay. That puts him clear of Flacco and the rest of the league in terms of average salary.
While having the best quarterback in the game has its benefits, the downside is the percentage of salary cap that player takes up. Using $123 million as the cap, Aaron Rodgers' current $9.75 million cap hit only takes up 7.9 percent of the Packers' cap.
Move that number past Flacco's average cap hit of $20.1 million and it's pushing 20 percent of the Packers' total cap space.
That will make it more difficult for the Packers to retain some of their own players. Instead of spending to bring back Greg Jennings and Charles Woodson, the Packers are in a position of needing to create space to pay Rodgers his soon-to-be massive checks.
Having the best player in the league falls into the category of being a blessing and curse. Looking at that list of quarterbacks, we see that most of them got rewarded for winning Super Bowls, but many of them haven't been able to replicate that success under their new deals.
The challenge for the Packers will be to pay Rodgers—but also put enough talent on the field to have a successful team.