Kirk Cousins' fully guaranteed deal adds layer to Aaron Rodgers talks

The quarterback contract landscape has changed significantly since Aaron Rodgers signed an extension three years ago. AP Photo/Mike Roemer

Fully guaranteed.

Those two words are staring the Green Bay Packers in the face as they navigate negotiations with quarterback Aaron Rodgers on a contract extension.

Team president Mark Murphy told reporters on Sunday at the NFL annual meetings in Orlando, Florida, that he remained confident the two sides will work out a new deal this offseason. However, the landscape has changed significantly since talks began earlier this offseason between Rodgers' agent, David Dunn, and Packers negotiator Russ Ball.

Both Murphy and first-year general manager Brian Gutekunst spoke confidently earlier this month that a deal would get done soon. In fact, Gutekunst said at the combine: "I wouldn't expect it to be real difficult."

Since then, however, the Minnesota Vikings signed quarterback Kirk Cousins to a three-year, $84 million fully guaranteed contract -- the first of its kind in the NFL.

"It's obviously very different for the league," Murphy said. "I think you've seen in recent years an increase in the amount of guaranteed money in contracts, and I think this is probably the first -- at least that I'm aware of -- that's guaranteed to that percentage. The other thing, it's only a three-year [deal]. So it's fairly short and typically contracts like that have probably been more often five years rather than three years. But as I said before, I have confidence in Russ and also Dave Dunn. Aaron's agent. I'm confident we'll be able to work things out."

Rodgers, 34, still has two seasons left on his contract that averages $22 million per season but has dropped to ninth on the quarterback pay scale. The five-year, $110 million extension was the NFL's richest contract when Rodgers signed it.

The Packers have a little more than $20 million in available salary-cap space after signing tight end Jimmy Graham and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. They signed cornerback Tramon Williams on Friday, but that contract hasn't been entered into the system yet. They'll also need space -- about $4 million or $5 million -- for their rookie contracts.

Gutekunst no doubt wants Rodgers locked up long term but also wants to make sure the team gives him enough freedom to shape a Super Bowl-contending roster around him. Two other NFL team executives told ESPN at the combine that that aspect will be the most difficult of the Packers' negotiations with Rodgers.

"We're going to do what's best for the Packers organization in the long run," Murphy said.

One way to make sure Rodgers remains at the top of the quarterback pay scale would be for Dunn to request that his contract is tied to a percentage of the ever-increasing salary cap.

"I foresee agents trying to get that, but I do not anticipate that that will happen," Murphy said.

If that's the case, Dunn could make other, more creative demands to keep Rodgers from slipping down the pay scale again.

"There could be [other contract demands]," Murphy said. "But as I said before, I'm confident we'll be able to work around it. At the end of the day, we want Aaron to be a Packer for the rest of his career. He wants to play 'til he's 40, and I think it just makes sense for both sides to figure out a way to get it done."

ESPN's Kevin Seifert contributed to this report from Orlando, Florida.