Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel expects to see the Packers to have long-term contract extensions in place with QB Aaron Rodgers and OLB Clay Matthews before the start of the 2013 season.
“Rodgers is going to wind up the highest-paid player in the league (more than $20 million per year) and Matthews is going to be one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league (probably $11 million per year or more),” writes Silverstein.
Green Bay is expected to have close to $22 million in available cap space to work with this offseason. A portion of that will obviously go to retaining restricted free agents and signing a new draft class, but there’s a good chance that they’ll try to use their remaining cap space to pay Rodgers and Matthews.
Silverstein adds that the Packers will try to front-load these deals to limit the cap hits in the coming years. More interesting than that, Silverstein mentions that the Packers will likely structure the contracts so that their cap hits increase in 2015, which is when the salary is expected to increase somewhere between $8-10 million.
There’s been talk that Green Bay could part ways with TE Jermichael Finley and LB A.J. Hawk at some point this offseason. Then again, other reports have indicated that they could also franchise WR Greg Jennings, so it’s hard to say what they’ll do in the coming weeks.
Clearly, Rodgers and Matthews sit atop their offseason priorities list.