Report: New Rodgers contract ‘a priority’

Aaron Rodgers is not paid like one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. The Green Bay Packers want to put an end to that.
The 2011 NFL Most Valuable Player has two years left on a contract that Rodgers agreed to with the Packers in 2008 when he was midway through his first season as Green Bay’s starting quarterback.
Rather than having Rodgers, 29, play out those final two years at a rate that’s not equal to his accomplishments and skill level, the Packers are ready to pay up.
While it was widely believed that Green Bay would look to re-sign Rodgers to a record-breaking, long-term extension this offseason, team president and CEO Mark Murphy acknowledged it publicly for the first time on Monday.
“It’s a priority,” Murphy told reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. “I think as an organization, I think we all want to see that get done.”
Rodgers is scheduled to earn $9.25 million for the 2013 season and $10.5 million for the 2014 season. That ranks his annual salary as the 10th-highest among NFL quarterbacks. In comparison with the new deal signed by Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco for six years, $120 million with a $29 million signing bonus, Rodgers is clearly underpaid.
The Packers currently have around $18 million available in cap space for the 2013 season. As usual, general manager Ted Thompson has been quiet in free agency while many other teams spend a lot of money to upgrade their rosters.
With the strong possibility looming in the near future to make Rodgers the highest-paid player in NFL history, the team needs as much money available as possible to make sure the rest of the roster doesn’t fall apart. The Ravens, after signing Flacco, have seen multiple players depart because so much of that franchise’s money was being given to their quarterback.
For the community-owned Packers, who have been turning a nice profit in recent years (including $42.7 million in 2012), having a huge sum of money available for Rodgers is also an important factor.
“It’s not an issue at all,” Murphy told reporters in Phoenix. “I think we’ve talked through with (negotiator) Russ (Ball) and Ted and we have more than enough resources to do whatever they need to do.”
It also appears that the Packers are moving closer to a different kind of deal with the quarterback Rodgers replaced.
Brett Favre will eventually have his number retired in Green Bay, but given the unceremonious end in 2008 to his 16-year career with the Packers, it has taken longer than hoped.
Six weeks after Rodgers and Favre shared the stage and shook hands at the NFL Honors show, it appears that more progress is being made to mend the relationship between the 43-year-old retired quarterback and the organization that he led to a Super Bowl victory in 1997.
“I thought that was great,” Murphy told reporters of the Rodgers-Favre moment. “It was kind of a good first step. And our intent all along is we want to bring (Favre) back into the family and retire his number. He deserves it.
“I don’t want to put a deadline on it, but it’s going to happen. It’s got to be sitting down, the organization, whether it’s myself or others, sitting down with him and working on the timing on it.”

Follow Paul Imig on Twitter.