Adam Schefter, ESPN's master broker of NFL information, spoke his opinion on new deals for Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews and the future of Jermichael Finley during a 15-minute radio segment with ESPN Milwaukee's Alex Petakas Saturday.
As the narrative has continued for most of the offseason, Schefter maintained that a mega-deal for Rodgers—expected to land in the $23-25 million a year range—is still a matter of when, not if.
"Clearly, they have not been able to agree on final numbers, and when you're putting together a deal that big and that large, you want to make sure that everyone is getting everything they want," Schefter said. "It's not as if there's a rush to get this deal done. It's not a question of if it's going to get done, it's a question of when it's going to get done. It will get done some point this offseason."
The "when" part of the equation remains cloudy.
While reported that Rodgers prefers his new deal to be done by Monday, April 15—or the start of the Packers' offseason workouts—Schefter predicted that an agreement could come sometime next month, after the NFL draft.
"If I had to guess, maybe a month from now—shortly after the draft—the two sides would be able to wrap up something," Schefter said.
Asked if Rodgers' new deal would be soon eclipsed by the next big quarterback contract, Schefter said that the next quarterback who could threaten his place atop of the contract hierarchy would likely be either Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson. Rodgers will likely secure at least $2-3 million more per year than Joe Flacco's current $20.1 million-a-year deal.
Schefter also expects an agreement with Matthews to be completed at some point this offseason. The money included in such a deal is still expected to make Matthews the highest paid linebacker in football.
"That deal is also going to get done. And it will get done before training camp, and it will come in north of $13 million a year," Schefter said. "Not if, but when."
Looking for a theory on the holdup for Matthews' deal, which has reportedly been "close" and forthcoming for the last two weeks? Schefter has one, although he admits no inside information in formulating his guess.
"They may be so close to Clay Matthews, and this is just a theory, I'm just guessing, that maybe they are waiting for the Aaron Rodgers deal to get done, and then they can just announce it both together and say, 'Here are our guys. They will be here the next 5-7 years. Packers for life. Great day in Green Bay. Let's go on with the rest of our offseason.'"
The Packers currently have $17.46 million in available cap room, which should be enough to fit in both mega deals and the 2013 class of rookies.
In the end, Schefter said he doesn't sense much worry in negotiations from either side.
"Both of those deals are when deals. When do they get done? Both are going to get done," Schefter said. "There doesn't seem to be much of a concern or much of an issue."
Shifting gears slightly, Petakas asked about the impending future of Finley, who will play in Green Bay in 2013 but has an indefinite future after next season. Schefter said it's on Finley to dictate where he's playing in 2014 and beyond.
"I think that's up to Jermichael Finley. Talent is not the issue for him. It's never been the issue with him," Schefter said. "It's whether he's going dedicate himself and commit himself to becoming this player he has the potential to be. And if he does that, he'll make himself so valuable that Green Bay will either want re-sign him or put the tag on him."
Finley will make $8.75 million in 2013. The franchise tag for tight ends in 2013 will be just $6.7 million, a relative bargain compared to other positions. However, Finley would be in line for a franchise tag value of over $10 million in 2014, thanks to the CBA provision that—in Finley's case—demands a tag be worth at least 120 percent of his prior year's cap number.
However, Finley could make such a decision worth discussion if he produces a season in 2013 that lives up to his immense and mostly untapped potential.
"To me, it's all up to him. The skills, talents and gifts are all there. What is he going to do to get the most out of himself? What is he going to do to maximize that ability he has?," Schefter said. "There are not many players who have those kind of abilities. It's flashed, at times. But it has not been consistent enough."
"And if he can get it to be consistent, it's going to be a win-win for the Green Bay Packers."
Zach Kruse is a 24-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].
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