A blockbuster Aaron Rodgers trade to the New York Jets is finally complete, ending an 18-year stint in Green Bay that saw him win a Super Bowl and four MVP awards.
New York receives not only Rodgers but the Packers’ No. 15 pick and fifth rounder in Thursday’s draft. In exchange, Green Bay receives the Jets’ 13th draft option, plus a second and sixth rounder, and a conditional 2024 second-round pick if Rodgers plays 65% of the snaps, Per Adam Shifter.
Rodgers will wear No. 8 for Gang Green according to Shifter, despite receiving Joe Namath’s blessing to wear his usual No. 12. The four-time MVP wore No. 8 while in college.
After contemplating retirement and returning to the Packers, Rodgers eventually requested a transfer to New York last month. The teams have now agreed to a deal that sends the 39-year-old quarterback from Green Bay to the New Jersey-based Jets, but only after weeks of arduous posturing and negotiation.
According to various reports, the Packers were seeking a future first-round pick as part of compensation for Rodgers, who previously said Green Bay’s demands were holding up the deal.
Rodgers became convinced to join the Jets after meeting in March with the team’s brass, including owner and former US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson. Shortly thereafter, Rodgers made his trade request to the Packers. He revealed the request in an interview with Pat McAfee in March.
“I intend to play for the New York Jets,” Rodgers told McAfee, confirming reports that he had requested a transfer to the Jets rather than return to the Packers.
The New York Jets have acquired their best quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, 38
Jets owner Woody Johnson (right), general manager Joe Douglas (left), coach Robert Salih and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett previously traveled to California to close a deal.
Of course, New York and Green Bay must still negotiate a deal that satisfies both teams — a process that has been delayed by the Packers’ demands, according to Rodgers.
“I haven’t held anything at this point,” Rodgers told McAfee on March 15, “It was the compensation the Packers are trying to get for me, and they’re kind of digging their heels in.”
Despite the grueling negotiations, Jets GM Joe Douglas remained so confident in his ability to acquire Rodgers that he went out and signed one of the quarterback’s favorite targets, former Packers receiver Allen Lazard, to a four-year, $44 million deal.
Jets players had been recruiting Rodgers for weeks, which led to the trade.
Seuss Gardner, Bryce Hall and Garrett Wilson appeared in a YouTube video earlier in March, with the former burning a cheese head that he had previously used to mock Rodgers after the Jets’ unexpected win in Green Bay last year.
“We want you to come over here so we can win the Super Bowl,” Gardner said after tossing the head of cheese into a fire pit in his backyard.
The Jets finished with a 7-10 losing overall record at the end of last season, but he has one of the most promising offenses in the league and often seemed like a fielding general out of competition with teams considered Super Bowl contenders.
Rodgers will replace Zack Wilson at quarterback after two frustrating seasons that dropped the former BYU star to No. 3 on the depth chart in 2022.
Despite his struggles, team officials have remained steadfast in their plan to keep him in the building, allowing him to develop under a veteran like Rodgers.
With Wilson’s cut, the quarterback duties are left to Mike White — who has since signed with the Miami Dolphins — and Joe Flacco, 38.
Jets players took to social media this week in an apparent attempt to lure Rodgers to New York
Meanwhile, the slumping Packers fell to 8-9 last season, and it looks like they need a rebuild helped by Rodgers’ trade and his remaining salary.
Rodgers has $108.8 million left on his current contract, which runs through 2026, though this season and 2025 are considered “fake” years and are strictly on the books for accounting purposes.
But the Jets don’t hurt cap space because Rodgers’ bonus has been prorated over the last three years of the deal. In total, he’ll tally $15.8 million toward his team’s salary cap in 2023 and $32.5 million for 2024, according to ESPN.
Meanwhile, the Packers still hold $40.3 million in Rodgers’ 2023 salary — which is 18 percent of the NFL’s $224.8 million salary cap for the year.
Rodgers’ only draw to New York was the presence of Green Bay’s former offensive coordinator, former Denver Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett.
“There are a lot of reasons why the Jets are attractive,” Rodgers told McAfee on March 15. “There is one coach who means as much to me as any, and he just happens to be the coordinator there.”
Rodgers was speaking to McAfee for the first time since his dark four-day retirement as he was expected to reflect on his future in the NFL.
Multiple outlets are reporting an imminent deal between Allen Lazard (pictured), a former Packers teammate of Rodgers, and the Jets, which agree to pay the 27-year-old receiver $44 million over the next four years with a $22 million guarantee.
As told by McAfee, Rodgers entered the semi-underground dorm leaning toward retirement.
“At this point, I have to admit I’m 90 percent retired and 10 percent playing,” Rodgers said. This is where my mind was. My mind was: “I’m sick of this.” I haven’t gone back to my workouts yet and thought this was what worked best for me.
He explained that Rodgers will be spending one of his days at Oregon with an eye on retirement and next considering returning to the NFL for another season.
When he resurfaced after going days without his cell phone, Rodgers knew the Packers were leaning toward moving him. He said the club had previously told him “the door was wide open” if he wanted to return to Green Bay, but Rodgers knew that was no longer the case after the darkness receded.
“It was clear to me at that point,” said Rodgers, “that even though the Packers would say the right thing in public, they were ready to move on.” I don’t know what or what changed that, or if they just said, “We need to make a decision here because he hasn’t made a decision yet.”
Rodgers stressed that he doesn’t feel like a victim, but he regrets that the Lakers didn’t express that to him after the Packers finished their disappointing season 8-9 in January.
Aaron Rodgers discussed his immediate future on former NFL quarterback Pat McAfee’s podcast, co-hosted by former Packers teammate A.J. Hook (R)
It wasn’t the first time the Jets had traded for the 39-year-old Packers’ quarterback, following the acquisition of Brett Favre in 2008 that paved the way for Rodgers’ rise in Green Bay.
In that deal, Favre was traded for a conditional fourth-round pick, which was probably fair compensation considering the Jets only finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs as the future Hall of Famer struggled with injuries.
As for his legacy in Green Bay, Rodgers told McAfee that he was “arguably the best player in franchise history,” while repeatedly stating how grateful he was to play for the Packers, for whom he won his only Super Bowl.
“I became the Packers’ starting quarterback for 15 years,” said Rodgers. “So, I love you, Green Bay. Thank you. I’m as sad as some of you, but we’ll meet again.”
Rodger-Jets speculation has been creeping in for weeks, and has only intensified since former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback David Carr signed a four-year, $150 million deal with the New Orleans Saints earlier this month.
Without Carr as an option, the Jets turned their full attention to the four-time MVP.
Next New York has restructured the contracts of left guard Laken Tomlinson, cornerback DJ Reed, and Tyler Conklin, saving about $20 million in cap space, somewhat necessary given Rodgers’ current contract and other potential signings the Jets may have planned. .
It wasn’t the first time the Jets had traded for the 39-year-old Packers’ quarterback, after the 2008 acquisition of Brett Favre paved the way for Rodgers’ rise in Green Bay. In that deal, Favre was traded for a conditional fourth-round pick, which may have been fair compensation given the Jets only finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs as the future Hall of Famer struggled with injuries.