Aaron Rodgers is set to become the NFL's highest-paid player (USA Today Sports Images)
The Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers are closing in on an extension that will make the 2005 first-round pick out of Cal the highest-paid player in NFL history, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.
That distinction currently belongs to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who parlayed his outstanding playoff performance in leading the Ravens to a win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII and his impending status as an unrestricted free agent this offseason into a six-year, $120.6 million contract, a $20.1 million APY (Average Per Year) that nudged him past the $20 million per year average that New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees received in his extension last July.
Brees' extension, which was negotiated off a $16.371 million franchise tag, nudged him past the $19.2 million average that Peyton Manning received in a five-year, $96 million contract from the Denver Broncos last March.
According to Schefter, "league-wide speculation" has a Rodgers extension obliterating the field with a possible APY of $25 million per season, a substantial increase over the $12.7 million APY Rodgers received in his current contract. Rodgers' signed his current deal - worth a total of $65 million over seven seasons (2008-14) and $63.5 million in "new money" over five new seasons - midway through his first season as the Packers' starting quarterback. That deal included $20 million in guaranteed money, a figure Rodgers will likely more than triple in a new extension.
In his five seasons as the Packers' starter, Rodgers has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League, passing for 21,332 yards with 170 touchdowns and just 45 interceptions over that span. Rodgers has been named to the Pro Bowl three times, was named MVP in the Packers' 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, set the NFL record for passer rating (122.5) while winning NFL Most Valuable Player honors in 2011 and also led the league in passer rating (108.0) in 2012.
Despite that production, Rodgers, who does not turn 30-year-old until December, will earn $9.75 million in cash compensation this season, which places him outside of the Top 10 among NFL quarterbacks. Ironically enough, in terms of 2013 cash compensation, Rodgers is tied for 12th with Alex Smith, who the 49ers chose over Rodgers with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 NFL draft and has since been acquired by former Packers personnel executive John Dorsey, who is in his first season as general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Rodgers and Smith, who will forever be linked, are each expected to receive new deals this offseason. However, this time it will be Rodgers' deal that includes an extra zero and considerably more guaranteed money.
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