Rich Cimini and Rob Demowski7 minutes of reading
For the second time in 15 years, the Green Bay Packers trade aging icon to New York Jets
The Packers agreed on Monday to give New York’s 2023 first-round pick (No. 13 overall) quarterback Aaron Rodgers and their 2023 first-round pick (No. 15 overall) and 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 170) to the Jets. , a 2023 second-round pick (No. 42), a 2023 sixth-round pick (No. 207) and a conditional 2024 second-round pick are top picks if Rodgers plays 65% of the plays this season, sources told ESPN’s Adam. Schefter on Monday.
No. for Hall of Fame quarterback and Jets franchise icon Joe Namath Rodgers. Despite giving his blessing to wear No. 12, the new Jets quarterback’s no. Expected to wear 8 — the number he wore in college, a source told Schefter.
The blockbuster comes 40 days after Rodgers announced on “The Pat McAfee Show” that it was his “intention” to play for the Jets in 2023, sparking ongoing negotiations between the Jets and Packers that have dominated NFL headlines.
The two sides had been in talks for weeks before talks broke down and the debate heated up last weekend. Finally, Jets general manager Joe Douglas and Packers GM Brian Gudkunst were able to put aside their differences and come to an agreement.
With Rodgers now traded to New York, the Jets are expected to become prime-time darlings when the NFL schedule is released next month and could play as many as six prime-time games, sources told Schefter. They had a Thursday night home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars last year.
For the Jets, frustrated by years of losing and poor quarterback play, this is the biggest trade in their history, reminiscent of Brett Favre’s trade with the Packers in 2008.
Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2021, isn’t satisfied, taking a big swing as both Douglas and coach Robert Saleh enter a make-or-break year. The Jets haven’t been to the playoffs in 12 years, the longest drought in the nation’s four major sports leagues.
For the Bakers, it marks the end of an era. Rodgers, 39, a four-time NFL MVP, led them to 11 playoff appearances and one Super Bowl championship in 15 years as the starting quarterback. Unlike Favre, who wanted to return to the Packers after unretiring, Rodgers wanted out after saying last summer that he would “definitely” end his career with the Packers.
Things got a bit contentious between Rodgers and the Packers this offseason. When Rodgers left Green Bay, he was under the impression that he would be welcomed back. But when he emerged from his dark retreat in late February, he said he had a sense that something had changed.
As for the Packers, it was impossible to talk to Rodgers. Despite Rodgers saying he wants direct contact with the team, Gutekunst said the quarterback won’t return “multiple” attempts to reach out to him this offseason.
“I was really looking forward to seeing how he fits into the conversations with Aaron,” Gudkunst said in late March. “They never happened. So it was time for us to make some decisions, so we went through his representatives to talk to him. [about] Where are we going with our team? At the time, we were told he wanted to be traded to the Jets.
The Packers are now expected to turn to Jordan Love, a 2020 first-round pick who spent the previous three seasons as a backup, though they will almost certainly need to add another quarterback or two. It was Gutekunst’s controversial decision to draft Love that ultimately set the wheels in motion for Rodgers’ exit.
The trade ends weeks of speculation about Rodgers’ future, which has become an offseason tradition. In February, he retreated into darkness for four days — a period of self-isolation, hoping to find clarity. Retirement is an option, he said in a recent interview.
Several members of the Jets organization, including Douglas, Saleh and owner Woody Johnson, traveled to Southern California on March 7 on Johnson’s private jet to meet with Rodgers to get him to agree to the trade. By then, they had obtained permission from the Packers to speak with him. The Jets had been targeting him since January and never budged despite showing interest in free agent Derek Carr.
When the Jets received a verbal commitment from Rodgers, Johnson said, the reaction was “very high in the building, and everyone was very excited to have a player of that caliber.”
A year ago, Rodgers seemed destined to end his career in Green Bay. After considering retirement following the 2021 season, he signed a three-year, $150 million contract extension in March 2022.
Instead, it includes $59.465 million guaranteed in salary and bonuses this season. Most of that was made up of a $58.3 million bonus that didn’t come until after Week 1 of this season.
The Packers now have to absorb $40.3 million of dead money on their salary cap. Because his bonus money is prorated, Rodgers won’t freeze the Jets’ cap. He will count for $15.8 million in 2023 and $32.5 million in 2024.
It’s unclear if Rodgers renegotiated his contract to facilitate a trade.
Gutekunst and coach Matt LaFleur publicly said during and after this past season that they would welcome Rodgers back for another year, Gutekunst said in Jan. 13 noted, “We made a really big commitment to him last season. So, I think we did that. , it’s definitely not for this. [past] year.”
That sentiment seemed to change as the season progressed, with Gutekunst saying in late February that all options were on the table, meaning a trade, return to the Packers or retirement.
Rodgers is coming off one of his worst seasons. He had nearly as many interceptions (12) as he did in the previous three seasons (13). After back-to-back MVP seasons, Rodgers threw for the fewest yards (3,695) of any season in which he played at least 15 games. He didn’t have a 300 yard passing game. Never before had he had less than three 300-plus yard games in a season.
Despite playing most of the season with a broken right thumb, he didn’t miss a start. He also overcame rib and knee injuries.
LaFleur helped Rodgers return to his MVP form, but the two never reached a Super Bowl together. The Packers haven’t been there since winning Super Bowl XLV. Rodgers has missed four NFC Championship games since that title, including twice to LaFleur (2019 and 2020). They also lost in the divisional round (2021) as the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
As for the Jets, Johnson recently said the quarterback is their “missing piece” and would “absolutely” pay big money to acquire a veteran.
The Jets started three different quarterbacks last season, which contributed to severe struggles on offense and a six-game losing streak to end the season. They changed offensive coordinators, moving on from Mike LaFleur and hiring former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Hackett developed a close relationship with Rodgers from 2019 to 2021, during which Rodgers won his third and fourth MVP awards.
In recent years, the Jets have tried to find a long-term quarterback through the draft. They used first-round picks in Mark Sanchez (2009), Sam Darnold (2018) and Wilson (2021), but never achieved consistency at the position. Since 2010, their last playoff season, the Jets have the fewest touchdown passes (225) and are tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the most interceptions (210).
Their hope is that Rodgers, with his experience and past success, can spark an offense that includes up-and-coming players like wide receiver Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall. They believe their defense, which is fourth in yards allowed, is already championship capable.
Wilson, 23, was benched twice last season and team officials have repeatedly said he will remain on the roster with hopes of developing. One of the subplots of the shakeup is the Wilson-Rodgers dynamic. Wilson grew up idolizing Rodgers and the two became friends.
Rodgers leaves Green Bay in touchdown passes (475), completion percentage (65.3) and passer rating (103.6), and is second behind Favre in passing yards (59,055) and completions (5,001).
His 475 touchdowns rank fifth in NFL history, and he has the best touchdown-to-interception ratio (475-105) in league history. He made 10 Pro Bowls and was selected as a first-team All-Pro quarterback four times (2011, 2014, 2020 and 2021 — all his MVP seasons).
Rodgers has always said he plans to play into his 40s. Dec. As long as he’s healthy by his 2nd birthday — he will — but it will be with a different team.