NEW YORK — It took seemingly forever, but it is now a done deal.
After weeks of posturing on both sides, the Jets and Green Bay Packers on Monday completed the trade that sends four-time NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers to New York.
ESPN first reported the Jets will receive Rodgers, the No. 15 overall pick and a fifth-round pick in 2023. The Packers will get the No. 13 overall pick, a second-round pick and a sixth-round pick this year, and a conditional 2024 second-round pick that becomes a first-rounder if Rodgers plays 65% of the plays during the upcoming season.
Jets legend Joe Namath has given Rodgers his blessing to wear his retired No. 12 jersey, but it is believed Rodgers will wear 8, the number he wore in college at California.
The Jets now have a future Hall-of-Famer at quarterback and their fans are already talking about the Super Bowl.
The team and their supporters had been waiting on pins and needles for the past few weeks.
The Jets brass flew out to Malibu several weeks ago for a recruiting visit with Rodgers, and whatever they said about playing in New York worked as Rodgers announced on “The Pat McAfee Show” on YouTube on March 15 his intention to play for the Jets in 2023.
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It took a lot longer than many expected for the Jets and Packers to work out the trade, but on Monday it came to fruition.
Rodgers, 39, had played his entire 18-year career in Green Bay, throwing 475 touchdowns and just 105 interceptions, over 5,000 completions for over 59,000 career passing yards. To put this into perspective, Rodgers has had 10 seasons of 4,000 passing yards or more. The Jets have had one: Namath in 1967.
Though 2022 was considered a down year by his lofty standards, Rodgers still threw for 3,695 yards, 26 TDs and 12 interceptions, with a 91.1 rating.
The Jets have had only one quarterback throw for at least that many yards in the last eight seasons — Ryan Fitzpatrick with 3,905 in 2015 — and only three total since 1985.
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The trade is reminiscent of the Jets’ acquisition of another Packers legend — Brett Favre — back in 2008. Favre played one season for the Jets, but he got hurt after an 8-3 start and they went on to miss the playoffs.
Jets fans obviously are hoping for a much different outcome this time around.
Rodgers led the Packers to the Super Bowl championship during the 2010 season. He never got them back to the big game, but they did make it to the NFC championship game four additional times.
The Jets finished 7-10 in 2022 and have missed the playoffs 12 straight years, the longest current futility streak in the NFL, due in large part to poor quarterback play. However, New York is known around the NFL for having an impressive defense and several skilled players on offense, making a trade for a player of Rodgers’ caliber more of a necessity.
Rodgers signed a three-year contract for slightly more than $150 million in March of 2022. He is owed a fully guaranteed $59.5 million in 2023, but all but $1.2 million comes in the form of a signing bonus that will be paid before the start of the regular season.
As far as the salary cap goes, Rodgers’ deal does not put a big strain on the Jets because the bonus money is prorated. He counts just $15.8 million against the cap in 2023 and $32.5 million in 2024.
The Jets clearly made acquiring Rodgers their top priority this offseason. Though they met with free agent quarterback Derek Carr, they reportedly never made him an offer. Carr then agreed to sign a four-year, $150 million contract with the New Orleans Saints, and the Jets shifted their pursuit of Rodgers into high gear.
The acquisition of Rodgers means Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft, will be relegated to the bench for the time being. Wilson still has two years remaining on his four-year, $35 million contract. The Jets have said repeatedly their goal is to groom Wilson into becoming a legitimate starter, something that failed to happen during his first two seasons.
To say Rodgers knows new Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s system is an understatement. The two worked together in Green Bay from 2019-2021, during which time Rodgers threw for 12,416 yards, 111 TDs and just 13 interceptions, and won two of his MVP awards.
“There’s a lot of reasons why the Jets are attractive,” Rodgers said during his appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.” “But there’s one coach that has meant as much to me as any coach I’ve ever had. And he happens to be the coordinator there.”
In anticipation of landing Rodgers, the Jets went out and beefed up their offense, signing free agent wide receivers Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman. They already boast breakout star wide receiver Garrett Wilson — 83 receptions and 1,103 yards in 2022 — and have young stud running back Breece Hall, and tight ends Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah, among others.
Due to countless injuries, a big concern for the Jets going into the offseason was the offensive line. However, they got a boost earlier this offseason when it was reported that veteran tackle Duane Brown, a five-time Pro Bowler, will return for his 17th season despite suffering a shoulder injury last season that required surgery.
New York will also benefit from the return of versatile tackle/guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, who missed most of last season after suffering a triceps tear. Another projected starter is veteran guard Laken Tomlinson and the Jets expect oft-injured but highly talented tackle Mekhi Becton to be ready to go come training camp.
Plus, the Jets figure to be players in the draft for offensive line help.
All of that should come as encouraging news to Rodgers, who has benefitted from excellent protection throughout his career.