Contracts: Rodgers vs. Romo

RODGERS VS. ROMO

Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Dallas' Tony Romo, quarterbacks of the future for their respective teams, signed contract extensions almost exactly one year apart, Romo on Oct. 30, 2007, and Rodgers on Nov. 1, 2008. Romo had started 18 games (12-6 record) for the Cowboys when he signed a six-year extension worth $67.5 million. Rodgers had started seven games (4-3) when he agreed to his six-year, $65 million extension. Except for $10 million more in guaranteed money that Romo makes, Rodgers contract compares favorably. Romo was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent when he signed his extension and had tremendous leverage. The team was 6-1 when he signed. Rodgers' contract wasn't set to expire until after 2009, so the Packers had the leverage. Here's a comparison of the two deals.

  Rodgers Romo
First-year pay $12.9 million $18.29 million*
Guaranteed amount $20 million $30 million
Average first 3 years $14.26 million $12.67 million
Average first 4 years $13.13 million $11.75 million
Average total $10.83 million $11.25 million
Salary 2008 $12.58 million $6.5 million (guaranteed)
Salary 2009 $680,000 plus $7.42 million roster bonus $7 million ($6 million guaranteed)
Salary 2010 $6 million $8.5 million
Salary 2011 $7.25 million $9 million
Salary 2012 $8 million $9 million
Salary 2013 $9.25 million $11.5 million
Salary 2014 $10.5 million N/A

Note: Rodgers can earn an additional $500,000 per year from 2009-'14 if he takes part in the Packers' off-season workout program.

* Includes $11.5 million signing bonus

About Rodgers' contract: The Packers were about $20 million under the salary cap before they signed Rodgers. By completing the contract before Nov. 3, they were able to apply any increase in base salary this year to the 2008 salary cap. Thus, Rodgers' cap number jumped from $1.738 million this year to $12.9 million because his salary increased more than $12 million. With the higher cap number, the Packers were able to eat up more than half their existing cap room.

The benefit is that Rodgers' cap numbers will be lower in the future and he won't command as enormous a piece of the salary cap pie as he would if he had signed a traditional contract. His cap numbers are: $9.65 million in '09, $6.5 million in '10, $7.75 million in '11, $8.5 million in '12, $9.75 million in '13 and $11 million in '14.

Packers' salary cap situation: They are $10.379 million under. That number will drop if recently released end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila files papers to receive severance, which would be the remaining portion of his $6.15 million base salary. That amount is $3.26 million and it would be subtracted from the $10.379 million.

Salary figures obtained from sources with access to NFL salary data.

Tom Silverstein

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