Like everyone, I found it odd to watch Brett Favre playing Monday night – and playing well – against the Packers rather than with them. It was truly bizarro world seeing him in the Metrodome, a building where we had celebrated road wins together over the years.
Watching him against the franchise with which he became inextricably linked for so long, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the amount of money the Packers paid Brett in his career. I don’t know this for sure, but I feel very confident saying there has never been a player playing against a team that had paid him this much money. How much?
Let’s take a look at all the contracts involved in the timeline between the Packers and Favre, including the one I negotiated in 2001.
1992: Brett was traded from the Falcons to the Packers, with Green Bay assuming Atlanta’s second-round contract with Favre. To that date, the Falcons had paid Favre a $450,000 signing bonus and a 1991 salary of $260,000.
The Packers paid Favre the scheduled 1992 salary of $310,000.
1993: The Packers paid Favre a 1993 salary of $360,000, which was increased to $757,000 after Favre earned $397,000 in bonuses in 1992 that escalated into the 1993 salary. Favre was then tendered as a restricted free agent.
1994: The Packers negotiated a new contract with Favre for the following amounts: Signing bonus: $2.875 million
(Note: The final two years, 1997 and 1998, were replaced by numbers in a new contract.)
1997: The Packers gave Favre a new contract with the following amounts:Signing bonus: $12 million
(Note: The final three years, 2001-2003, were replaced by numbers in a new contract. The 2003 portion also contained a “most favored nations” clause whereby Favre’s salary would be adjusted so he would be paid as a top-five NFL quarterback.)
2001: After months of negotiations, we were able to negotiate a “lifetime” contract with Favre for 10 years. It was a time when these type of deals were being done for players such as Mark Brunell, Drew Bledsoe and Steve McNair.
Instead of the multi-option format that was being done in those deals, I wanted to avoid the excessive bonus proration that would come from that structure and formulated a new structure for Brett’s $15-million bonus. Thus, the contract contained an $11M bonus and a $4M first-year NLTBE (not likely to be earned) incentive that would have the easiest thresholds possible.
We took a $4M cap charge at the end of the 2001 season and were not subject to future dead money charges on Brett once he decided to retire, learning from the crippling cap charges of other teams when their franchise quarterbacks retired. Knowing we had a light charge on Brett in 2002 where he would only make $723,000, we could take a hit on our adjusted 2002 cap and still be flexible in that year.
So the “bonus” on the deal was $15M with the following salaries:
2003: $4.3M plus $3M roster bonus
2004: $5.5M plus $3M roster bonus
2005: $6.5M plus $3M roster bonus
2006: $7M plus $3M roster bonus
When I negotiated the deal with Bus Cook, Brett’s longtime friend and agent, we were hoping he would play three years (the retirement talk had already begun in 2001). As we know, he’s still playing.
He played on this contract -- assigned to the Jets last summer -- through 2008 until the contract was terminated from the reserve/retired list last winter. As a free agent for the first time in his career, Brett went on to sign with the Vikings for a two-year, $25-million contract, essentially taking the 2008 and 2009 numbers from above and transferring them to 2009 and 2010.
Thus, the team Brett played against last night, the Green Bay Packers, paid him the following amounts:
Total compensation: $98.017 million.
The Packers gave Favre close to $100 million for his 16 years of service. And he gave the Packers a lot in return, raising the national and international profile of the team and geometrically increasing its asset value.
Now, after $12M more from the Jets last season and another $12M from the Vikings this season -- for a career earnings of over $122M -- Favre can do whatever he wants with his time in the future. Maybe his playing really isn’t “about the money.”
Congrats to Brett in part one of this new little rivalry; we’ll revisit when chapter two arrives in a month or so.
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