Retirement would give Aaron Rodgers greater flexibility, lower financial penalty than holding out
With Aaron Rodgers skipping Green Bay’s mandatory minicamp, the next question becomes whether he reports for training camp. For various reasons, it arguably would make more sense for him to retire than to hold out.
The 2020 CBA imposes a daily fine of $50,000 for missing training camp. For players who aren’t operating under a rookie deal, the fines cannot be waived. So if Rodgers skips all of training camp, that’s $2 million that disappears. The Packers can’t look the other way.
So it would make more sense for Rodgers to simply retire on the eve of camp than fail to report, if he’s planning to stay away for all of camp and beyond. Holdout or retire for all of 2021, he loses his $14.7 million salary. Holdout or retire for all of 2021, he loses his $6.8 million roster bonus. Holdout or retire for all of 2021, the Packers would be able to pursue $11.5 million in unearned signing bonus money. Retirement, however, would avoid the fines for missing camp.
He’d still be able to return whenever he wants. In fact, a player who retires most likely can show up even later than a player who is under contract but fails to report. For a failure to report, the deadline to return is believed to be the Tuesday after Week 10 (we’ve sought confirmation from the league on this, given the expansion of the season by a week). For retirement, it’s Week 13 (we’ve sought confirmation on this as well, given the expanded season). Whatever the respective deadlines for 2021, Rodgers can end a holdout before the relevant deadline applicable to players who fail to report, and he can unretire before the relevant deadline applicable to players who retire.
There’s another key date to remember: The Tuesday after Week Eight, the trade deadline. After that, the window closes on Rodgers being sent to another team. If he’d end a holdout or unretires thereafter, the Packers would either have to reinstate him or release him.
Although they most likely wouldn’t cut him, would they reinstate him as the starter? If they’re playing well with Jordan Love, they may want to keep rolling with him. If they’re struggling, Rodgers could potentially be the hero who leads a late charge to the postseason.
Regardless, if Rodgers is serious about staying away into the regular season, there are multiple reasons for him to consider retiring instead of simply not showing up -- whether he’s intent on staying out for all of 2021 or wants to preserve the ability to come back.