Jordan Love will be the Packers’ starting quarterback this year, and Aaron Rodgers will be the Jets’ quarterback in 2023. These are events that, barring anything catastrophic, will undoubtedly occur this fall.
Nobody can say for sure when Rodgers will become a Jet officially, though some may argue that he already is one in spirit.
It might happen today, over the weekend, or after a kumbaya gathering at the NFL owners meetings later this month in Phoenix. Perhaps it goes on until the NFL Draft, with the Green Bay transaction oozing with resentment. Or perhaps it enters the summer with two franchises that are obstinate and filled with animosity.
Rodgers wants to join the Jets as a player. Okay, sure. Was the meeting between Rodgers and Jets brass, which was exclusive to their team, in a personal airport hangar the tell?
For months, the Jets have had Rodgers on their radar. When he had dinner with the team last month, even Derek Carr had to be aware of it. Carr was the fallback option in the event that something went wrong with Rodgers, so when free agency approached and the Jets showed no inclination to make a move for the most crucial position in all of North American sports, that was the clearest indication that the team was confident they would find their man.
The Packers have been aware for some time that they will probably part ways with Rodgers. Just like Rodgers replaced Favre, Love will take over for Rodgers, and team president Mark Murphy made that declaration days before Rodgers talked to the streaming community.
Murphy stated, “I think we wanted to assist Aaron achieve what he wanted, as well as the Packers. It’s a circumstance [allowing Rodgers talk to the Jets]. “Ideally, it will result in a situation where both parties benefit. We would ideally have a resolution by the beginning of free agency.”
Murphy made it clear that he thought Rodgers going to the Jets was a done deal. Like me, he wanted it completed before the start of free agency, although his motivations likely had more to do with team building than with being able to watch the NCAA men’s basketball championship without interruption.
Hence, even before Rodgers made his public comments, the Jets and not the Packers already wanted him. That seems like a little bit more than half the battle already.
The problem was always going to be the compensation. What’s a four-time NFL MVP with a huge salary worth to the Jets, a struggling team? Should the Packers “do right” by a player who can firmly assert that he is arguably the best player in the history of the team while being calm and composed?
If you believe that the Jets will be subjected to public or fan pressure, buddy, pay attention to yourself. The Jets were forced into existence. It molded me. Boomer Esiason wouldn’t likely start his workday in June until his producer had turned away a dozen callers who wanted an explanation as to why Joe Douglas should regret selecting the linebacker he did in the fifth round.
Rodgers’ attempt to humiliate the Packers shouldn’t inspire them either. Rodgers has made it a habit to quietly jab general manager Brian Gutekunst since since the Love selection in 2020.
The Rodgers gambit wasn’t fully realized until after that decision, when the contract saga and constant “will he or won’t he” began. He played pranks on the team whenever he had the chance, stealing the show during the 2021 NFL Draft, forcing a contract renegotiation prior to training camp in 2021, which set up a Last Dance-like finish to his Packers days, and then the three-year massive extension last year in free agency. And in the midst of it all, he received back-to-back NFL MVP awards.
Since the day Love was selected, Rodgers has wanted to slam the Packers’ brass in the face with the selection, and he’s managed to do it, tastefully or not, with some degree of success. Rodgers twisted the knife by equating the glory days of Ted Thompson with Gutekunst (without saying Gutey’s name). Since everyone has known it, everyone knew it.
Throughout his almost one-hour-long chat, Rodgers dropped a few hints about the direction he wants this story to go in. He claimed to have entered the retreat in the dark with the conviction that, 90/10, he would come out and eventually retire, giving up over $60 million in guaranteed pay in 2023 while being one of the greatest in the world at his position. We’ll never be able to verify that, of course.
He did, however, add that when he returned to the light, something had changed. Call it a Damascus-like situation. The conversation had just begun! The Packers were no longer interested in him, and they weren’t at all before he entered that retreat. He now had to go exercise and decide if he would still retire. Rodgers went from contemplating retirement to deciding to lead the New York Jets in only a few short weeks.
All the top athletes tend to have these ahistorical moments that may be called charitable. Choose from any of the thirteen stories Michael Jordan presented in “The Final Dance.” Kobe Bryant claiming that the Hornets didn’t want him in 1996, which is why he was traded to the Lakers, is one of my personal sports heroes. Prior to Rodgers this week, the Georgia Bulldogs’ statement that many people doubted they would win the national title was the best sports quote.
I think Rodgers genuinely means what he says. And in 2023, this will serve as his fuel. Given that the Packers are slated to meet an AFC East opponent at Lambeau that year, it might even be enough to keep him in New York for 2024.
I’ve seen what the Lord has done for others.
Regardless of anything more he says or doesn’t say, Rodgers will be the Jets’ quarterback this season. Due to necessity, the two parties will reach a compromise. The trade compensation won’t change as a result of what was stated because doing so would make Gutekunst and Douglas appear petulant, and men in their position cannot afford to look petulant.
When they figure it out, Rodgers will have a lot more to say.