As the NFL world watched and waited for a conclusion to the Aaron Rodgers saga, the two teams involved finally were able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. On Monday it became official: The longtime Green Bay Packers quarterback is now officially a member of the New York Jets.
The trade speculation surrounding the superstar had dominated offseason headlines, as the whole story involved multiple sources, a lot of mistimed stories, and even a darkened sabbatical. But in the end, Aaron Rodgers got his wish to play in The Big Apple, and the Packers get to turn the page.
It was essential for the two sides to come to terms this week, due to the fact that the annual NFL Draft is beginning on Thursday night.
Needless to say, trading for an established name like Rodgers is going to involve future compensation. The deal was set to include some of the Jets’ 2023 picks, so they were on the clock in more ways than one during Draft week.
In the exchange, New York receives Rodgers, the No. 15 pick in the ’23 draft, and a ’23 fifth-round pick (No. 170). The No. 13 pick, a ’23 second-round pick (No. 42), a ’23 sixth-round pick (No. 207), and a conditional 2024 second-rounder go to the Packers.
The acquisition of the 39-year-old QB is a sign that the Jets are in a ‘win-now-or-else’ mode at this point. Even in the most optimal scenario, Aaron Rodgers only has a handful of seasons left to deliver a Super Bowl title to the franchise.
He’s already the holder of one championship ring, leading The Pack to a 31-25 victory over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV. He was also the MVP of that game, passing for 304 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I have so much respect for Aaron and not only the person, but the player that he is and there’s so much gratitude regarding what he’s done for this organization,” Green Bay General Manager Brian Gutekunst said following the completion of the deal. “Again, it would have been nice to have those conversations. But at the same time, over the last few years, I kind of understood that may not happen.”
Aaron Rodgers will now lead a Jets team that finished 7-10 last season, last in the AFC East. That’s why the pursuit of the signal-caller had some fans and observers befuddled. Does the former Green Bay field general still have enough gas left to roll New York’s tank all the way to the promised land?
Many NFL experts think that if this move doesn’t garner a Super Bowl title, then it is all much ado about nothing. As great a player as #12 has been in his Hall of Fame career, there are plenty of questions about whether or not he will have the desired impact in The City That Never Sleeps.
Armchair GMs are weighing in now. Seemingly everyone has an opinion on whether or not New York is considered a contender to win it all. They play in a tough division and conference, and Rodgers is now playing in a whole new world – far from the frozen tundra.
The New York spotlight will be burning hot. And to be fair, Aaron Rodgers isn’t considered the explosive player that he once was. At a time when his skills are naturally starting to dwindle, he’s now playing in an AFC that’s pretty stocked with talented young QBs like Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, and (inside his own division) Josh Allen.
However, that hasn’t stopped several pundits from giving the Jets a big thumbs-up for making the bold move. Notably, Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday that he believes that New York ‘won’ – in more ways than one – with this deal.
“We’ve got Aaron Rodgers in the Big Apple,” Smith said. “We’ve got Aaron Rodgers. That ‘baaad man’ is in the Big Apple, baby.”
“You can bring up a running back, you can bring up an offensive line, you can bring up an elite defense, which the New York Jets have. If you don’t have a quarterback, it amounts to nothing in this day and age. This ain’t the days when Trent Dilfer — who I love dearly, by the way — led the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl.”
“That baad man is in the Big Apple, baby!… When you’re succeeding Zach Wilson, it’s heaven having arrived early— you didn’t even have to pass away & have a funeral.”
Stephen A. Smith on Aaron Rodgers to the Jets.
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 25, 2023
Many say this could become a cautionary tale, however. Former NFL player Ross Tucker said on his podcast that Rodgers must stick around New York long enough to win The Big Game. Otherwise, the Jets mortgaged way too much for this short-term shot.
“If Rodgers doesn’t play multiple years this is a disaster of a trade for the New York Jets.” Tucker posted on Twitter, before clarifying that statement. “Unless they win the Super Bowl this year. A game Aaron Rodgers hasn’t gotten to in 13 years.”
*Unless the Jets win the Super Bowl this year.
The game Aaron Rodgers hasn’t gotten to in 13 years.
In the AFC, against Mahomes, Burrow, Josh Allen, Lawrence, Herbert, etc. https://t.co/TLYy9n5CLs
— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) April 25, 2023
It will be tough treading for Rodgers and his new franchise. In one of the toughest sports cities in America, the Jets are frequently targeted by the fans and media for their chronic ineptitude.
The team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010, the longest active streak of any of the four, major North American sports leagues. They have an astoundingly bad 70–124 record in the regular season since their last postseason appearance. In the past few seasons, it’s gotten so comically bad in New York that they have regularly become the butt of talk show jokes and barbs on sports highlight shows. It’s often not the fact that they lose, it’s the cartoonish ways they’ve managed to do so that has really set them apart.
But that’s all supposed to change now, with Aaron Rodgers riding into town. In just a day, a huge focus has been put on The New York Jets and their new quarterback. They will be the talk of the NFL and the focus of many camera lenses in the 2023 season. And everyone will want to see how this story turns out in the end.
Will Aaron Rodgers still be Superman in a different, green uniform? And more importantly… is this the move that finally takes the New York Jets from a sad sack to the Super Bowl?