With free agency approaching on March 14, we're analyzing the quarterback position on the Green Bay Packers:
2018 cap hits of top returnees:
Aaron Rodgers: $20,562,500
Brett Hundley: $760,908
Pending free agents:
Joe Callahan (exclusive rights)
Key stat: 5-10-1 -- That's the Packers' record in games Rodgers has not started the past five years, including 3-6 with Hundley last season after Rodgers broke his right clavicle. Yes, Hundley won just enough games to keep the Packers' playoff hopes alive before Rodgers returned in Week 15, but he left him with no margin for error. Hundley threw nine touchdowns -- but none at home -- and had 12 interceptions.
Money matters: Rodgers still has two seasons left on his five-year, $110 million extension that at one point was the NFL's richest contract. However, it has become outdated, and Rodgers is grossly underpaid. Given the quarterback market, Rodgers should be in line for a deal that averages about $30 million per year. The question is when does it get done?
Big picture: Rodgers was off to one of the best starts of his career -- with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions plus a 4-1 record -- when he broke his collarbone, so there's no sense that he's close to the beginning of his decline. But the Packers have to protect themselves better than they did last year in case disaster strikes Rodgers again. Hundley will get another shot at the backup job, but the Packers need to make sure they have other options in case Hundley doesn't progress.
The game plan: The short-term concern is the backup position, after Hundley didn't play as well as expected for someone who had been in the system for three years. The Packers decided against signing a veteran quarterback after Rodgers got hurt, but perhaps they should now in case something happens again. The long-term issue is when to start thinking about drafting Rodgers' eventual successor. Rodgers will turn 35 in December; Brett Favre was 35 when the Packers picked Rodgers, but he was also waffling about his future. Rodgers wants to play until at least 40, but at some point new GM Brian Gutekunst will have to find a successor.