The Jets Continue to Prepare for an Aaron Rodgers Trade

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The Jets Continue to Prepare for an Aaron Rodgers Trade


The New York Jets moved on from former second-round draft pick Elijah Moore on Wednesday. New York sent Moore to the Cleveland Browns with a third-round pick in exchange for a second-rounder.

Five months ago, Moore demanded a trade after a confrontation with former offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. As a result, Moore was sent home for three weeks. At the time, Jets head coach Robert Saleh said that trading Moore was not an option and even defended Moore’s actions and value to the team.

“We love Elijah,” Saleh said in October. “We all understand the business aspect, we know where his heart is, we know the character that we drafted. Elijah is a great kid. He is. He’s out there, he works his tail off, he does everything asked of him. He is a very high-character individual, and I get that this can look bad, but it’s part of what we go through, it’s part of our business. I will stand by that young man every day of the week. He’s going to be a great football player in this league for a long time, and it’s just a matter of being able to stack together a couple of good days and let the ball roll from there.”

Moore returned to the Jets and finished the season with the second-most targets behind only rookie Garrett Wilson. Moore may have even had a change of heart on that trade request.

Realizing that you’re on the verge of having Aaron Rodgers throw you the ball will do that to you. However, Moore got his request, even if he no longer wanted it. In trading Moore, the Jets did two things: 1) pulled the plug on a disappointing tenure for Moore in New York and 2) added more chips for the impending Aaron Rodgers trade.

The Jets also signed Mecole Hardman to a one-year, $6.5 million contract. In 2022, Hardman had 25 catches, 297 yards, and four touchdowns in eight games, a solid pace if he’d remained healthy. Hardman’s best season was in 2021 when he had 59 catches for 693 yards and two touchdowns. 

Hardman likely fits as the slot option for the Jets with Wilson and Lazard on the outside. Of his 16 career touchdowns, 10 are from the slot. Despite running a 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine in 2019, Hardman hasn’t been much of a deep threat for the Chiefs in recent years. Still, his speed will help open up the field for the Jets.

So, New York now has Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, and Mecole Hardman in place as the top three wide receivers. However, they still may look to add another receiver, and maybe that wide receiver is Odell Beckham Jr.

I’m sure that there is a mutual interest. The issue is that the Jets would have to shuffle to accommodate a trade for Rodgers and a signing of OBJ. The Jets are at roughly $10 million in available cap space. Cutting wide receiver Corey Davis could open up another $10 million, putting them at about $20 million. Which still won’t be enough room to acquire both Rodgers and Beckham. So, if possible, there will need to be some more cap shedding.

Regardless of whether or not OBJ is a realistic fit in New York, the Jets and Packers still have to get a trade done for Rodgers. As of now, the two sides are at a stalemate. Reports have the Packers eyeing the Jets’ first-rounder (No. 13). New York isn’t yet likely to go for that. Yet, anyway.

Does today’s trade change that? The Jets now hold the 42nd and 43rd (from Cleveland) in the draft. Would that soften the blow of losing their first-rounder to Green Bay? Maybe. However, it’s worth noting that beyond those consecutive picks in the second round, the Jets only own No. 112, No. 143, and No. 247 after that.

The Jets aren’t trading from a position of strength regarding 2023 draft picks. So, they’re in a tough spot.

Still, it seems like a deal will get done, and more than likely before the draft. In the meantime, any of the Jets’ moves will be viewed through the lens of how this helps them prepare for the Aaron Rodgers trade.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.