The disappointing seasons the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers are having with veteran quarterbacks who signed huge contract extensions this offseason got us thinking.

What, exactly, could the Broncos do about moving on from Russell Wilson if things don't get better? When, exactly, could they do it?

What, exactly, are the Packers' options with Aaron Rodgers if he decides to come back, if he demands a trade, if he retires, etc.? And what's the timetable on those?

Wilson's and Rodgers' deals have unique structures that make the issues thorny, but there are ways their teams can work around them if they decide they need to. I wanted to take a dive into those deals and try to explain what happens this year, next year, etc., if and when the teams decide they want out.

And then, as we got talking, we realized those aren't the only veteran QB contracts that may not look exactly as they've been presented. So we added a few more interesting veteran deals and some explanations of those.

Please understand, we aren't predicting what will happen with these teams and these quarterbacks. That depends on the results of games, the results of seasons, the wishes of the players, the health of the players, the whims of team owners... lots of stuff. This isn't one of our predict-the-future exercises.

No, this is an examination of contract structures with an eye on how flexible some of the bigger veteran QB deals are or are not. Hopefully it helps you learn something. Enjoy.

 

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Rodgers signed a three-year, $150 million contract extension with the Packers this past offseason that technically runs through 2026. But the 2025 and 2026 seasons are basically dummy years put in there for cap purposes, so really the deal is up after 2024. And the 2024 money doesn't become guaranteed until the day after that year's Super Bowl, so really the 2023 season is all they have to worry about navigating. Rodgers turns 39 this week and has pondered retirement in several recent offseasons. The Packers are still figuring out what they have in 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love. The Packers' 2023 QB situation could go a number of different ways, which is probably why Rodgers' contract is structured the way it is.

Rodgers is scheduled to make about $59.5 million fully guaranteed in 2023. Of that, $58.3 million is in the form of a team option bonus. If the team declines the option, that $58.3 million becomes salary and the team gets hit with a roughly $75 million salary-cap charge for Rodgers in 2023. The Packers are not going to do that. If he's going to be on their 2023 team, they'll exercise the option and spread the cap hit out over several years. Their cap hit for Rodgers in 2023 would then be "just" $31.6 million.

Now here's where it gets really interesting. The deadline for picking up the option isn't until Week 1 of the 2023 regular season, which means the Packers can delay the formal exercising of the option all throughout the summer if they feel they might end up trading him or that he might retire.