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Rodgers, Jennings in for Contract extension by GB PG P Dough

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by PWT36, Oct 16, 2008.

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    Rodgers, Jennings in line for contract extensions
    By Pete Dougherty •• October 15, 2008

    The Green Bay Packers are thrilled with the 24-year-old’s sound play and toughness, and though six games as a starter hardly make a career, Rodgers’ performance is putting pressure on General Manager Ted Thompson to make a major, long-term investment in his quarterback.

    Thompson has a big chunk of salary-cap room remaining this year, about $20 million, most of which he saved for in-season contract extensions for core players, and a key Nov. 2 deadline for salary-cap accounting is fast approaching.

    Rodgers said Wednesday that to his knowledge, the Packers have not approached his agent, David Dunn, about a long-term deal.

    But Dunn attended the Packers’ game at Seattle last weekend — he also represents Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who didn’t play because of an injury — and the Packers will have to begin working on some deals soon to get the most out of that $20 million in cap space. As the Packers’ next franchise quarterback, Rodgers ranks at the top of the list.

    “I’d love to be here for a long time,” Rodgers said.

    Thompson could end up working on two especially expensive extensions this season, for Rodgers and receiver Greg Jennings, who have become the team’s two most important players on offense.

    Jennings, like Rodgers, is under contract through 2009, but the third-year pro is emerging as one of the top receivers in the NFL. The Packers will want to extend the contracts sooner rather than later, because the price only will go up if they play at their current levels.

    Jennings is tied for eighth in the NFL in receptions (34), and more importantly, his 19.2-yard average per catch ranks third among the top 20 leaders in receptions and is an indication he’s consistently providing big plays. This, on the heels of a 2007 season in which he averaged 17.4 yards on his 53 catches and scored 12 touchdowns.

    “They’re definitely the core of the offense,” defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said of Jennings and Rodgers. “Signing them would be key.”

    Thompson, Dunn and Jennings’ agent, Eugene Parker, were unavailable for comment.

    Rodgers is in the fourth season of his five-year rookie contract that included a $1.5 million signing bonus and paid him a total of $5,595,000 in his first three seasons. His base salary in his fourth season is $680,000, and he’s missed out on lucrative salary escalators totaling up to $5 million last season and this year because he failed to reach play-time incentives as a backup to iron man Brett Favre.

    As a first-year starter, Rodgers has been as sound as the Packers could have hoped through six games. His passer rating of 98.0 points ranks seventh in the NFL, and he rates highly in a number of other important categories, including average yards per pass attempt (seventh, 7.68 yards), completion percentage (eighth, 64.2 percent), touchdown percentage (fourth), interception percentage (ninth) and third-down passer rating (second, 120.9 points).

    He’s also allayed some concerns about his durability and won the respect of teammates by playing through the sprained throwing shoulder he sustained in Week 4.

    “The organization will make a move when they feel it’s necessary,” middle linebacker Nick Barnett said. “I think (Rodgers) is a great player. I think he’ll be a great player for a long time to come.”

    The Packers are likely to extend at least one contract before Nov. 2. After that, any money paid to a player this year must be treated as a signing bonus, which then is prorated over the length of the contract for cap purposes.

    With the $20 million in cap room, the Packers will want to count as much as possible on this year’s cap, and increasing a player’s base salary is the way to do that without spreading too much cost to future years.

    Rodgers probably will be in line for a contract similar to those of Dallas’ Tony Romo and Jacksonville’s David Garrard, both of whom signed extensions in the last year — Romo last October and Garrard in April.

    Romo, who’s emerging as a premier player and ranks third in the NFL in passer rating (103.5 points), signed an extension a year ago that gave him a seven-year contract averaging about $9.6 million a year. Most importantly, the deal includes $30 million in guaranteed pay (an $11.5 million signing bonus and $18.5 million in guaranteed salaries).

    Garrard, who ranks No. 16 in the league in passer rating (84.5 points), became a full-time starter last year, and in the offseason signed a six-year deal that averages $10 million a year. Though that has a slightly higher average than Romo, its guarantees of $20 million is significantly less.

    Though Jennings also doesn’t become a free agent until 2010, he has become the Packers’ best playmaker and is in line for a lucrative deal when Thompson approaches him, likely either this year or perhaps in the offseason.

    Earlier this week, Dallas signed receiver Roy Williams to a five-year extension after acquiring him from Detroit in a trade. Williams was going to be a free agent in the offseason but signed for an average of $8.1 million and $20 million guaranteed.

    Last month, the New York Giants extended the contract of receiver Plaxico Burress, whose contract was supposed to run through 2010. His five-year deal averages $7 million and includes $11 million paid this year.

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