Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are two of the greatest quarterbacks in league history. Both will go down as two of the greatest players of this era. Both will also go down in history as trailblazers, but for different reasons.
Two years ago, Brady inked a two-year, $50 million deal with the Buccaneers, giving the then-six time Super Bowl champion a $25 million annual salary. Brady, who never made over $30 million for a season, added to his already unprecedented ring total by helping lead the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win during his first year in Tampa. Brady solidified his legacy as the NFL‘s greatest winner.
A year later, Rodgers has etched out his own, albeit different legacy as the NFL’s first $50 million player (Rodgers later tweeted that the reported terms are inaccurate). While it’s not even half the years of of Patrick Mahomes‘ mega deal, Rodgers’ contract has not only reinforced but has elevated the bar when it comes to the earning power for top-flight quarterbacks. Now, $40 million is the floor when it comes to an elite quarterback’s annual salary; $50 million is the new ceiling. This is good news for Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, who is currently halfway through his rookie contract, a contract that will likely be torn up next offseason.
What does Rodgers’ deal with Green Bay mean for the current quarterback market? It means that the Packers‘ Super Bowl window remains open. The Broncos also opened their championship window by reportedly working out a trade with Seattle that will bring Russell Wilson to Denver.
Who’s still looking?
Teams that are still looking to make upgrades at quarterback include the Steelers, Seahawks, Falcons, Commanders, Titans and Saints. Seattle, who reportedly acquired Drew Lock in the Wilson trade, is also now in prime position to select a quarterback in the first round, as it reportedly acquired two first-round picks from Denver in the trade for Russell.
New Orleans, Tennessee and Pittsburgh can be a little more patient, as they currently have placeholders in Taysom Hill, Ryan Tannehill and Mason Rudolph. With that in mind, don’t be surprised if the quarterback market doesn’t get hot until after the draft, when teams have a better idea of what their quarterback situation looks like. This could lead to a pretty robust second wave of free agency during a period of the offseason that is typically anything but.
These teams will have several options in free agency, starting with Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Mitchell Trubisky and Marcus Mariota. They could also pursue a trade with Green Bay in exchange for Jordan Love, whose upside includes sharing a quarterback room with the reigning league MVP each of the past two years.