Unpacking the Aaron Rodgers Trade to the New York Jets
I was worried about the Aaron Rodgers trade interrupting the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday evening. The long-awaited trade did come before the draft, but still at a less than opportune time while I was picking my daughter up from school on an unsuspecting Monday afternoon.
Of course, timing is everything with these kinds of stories, which was slightly frustrating. Anyway, that’s my soapbox for the day. So, let’s unpack this one before we move on from the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay.
The Packers did pretty well on the return for Rodgers
The story went up shortly after the news broke. The consensus reaction in the comments of the story and the social media post was primarily two things: 1) thank goodness this is over (primarily for Bears fans), and 2) boy, did the Packers make out pretty well in the deal.
The Jets received 39-year-old Aaron Rodgers and a fifth-round pick in this week’s draft. In exchange, the Packers moved up two spots (15 to 13) in the first round. They also received a a 2023 second-round pick (No. 42), a sixth-round pick pick (No. 207), and a conditional 2024 second-round pick that becomes a first-round pick if Rodgers plays 65 percent of the plays.
Let’s be honest here unless Rodgers misses significant time with an injury this season, that conditional second-rounder will convert to a first-rounder for the Packers in 2024. So, essentially, the Packers got to move up two spots, netted a second-rounder and a late-rounder in this draft, and a damn good shot at a second first-round pick next year.
What about the money?
Despite getting out from under Aaron Rodgers’ nearly $60 million in guaranteed money for the 2023 season, the Packers still face a dead-money cap hit of more than $40 million, according to Over the Cap.
About that first-round pick swap …
While the first-round pick swap from No. 15 to No. 13 for Green Bay may seem minor, it’s actually very advantageous for the Packers.
The Packers have now leap-frogged the New England Patriots in the first round. The Packers and Patriots share a need at wide receiver. Green Bay is about guaranteed their pick of either Dalton Kincaid or Michael Mayer at tight end or which receiver they like the most, save for Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who might be off the board already.
Green Bay could also go defense there and have their pick of a premium EDGE rusher not named Will Anderson Jr. or Tyree Wilson.
As for the Jets, they’re not in a terrible position at No. 15. They’ll likely take an offensive lineman and have a nice selection of premium tackle prospects.
Here are the Jets draft picks after the Rodgers trade:
- First: No. 15
- Second: No. 43
- Third: NONE
- Fourth: No. 112
- Fifth: No. 143, No. 170
- Sixth: NONE
- Seventh: NONE
After the Jets’ second-round pick (No. 43), they don’t pick again until the middle of the fourth round (No, 112).
The Jordan Love era begins in Green Bay
The Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay is over. What his legacy will be in Green Bay is a conversation for another day. As for today, it’s the dawn of the Jordan Love era for the Packers. Packers’ head coach Mike LaFleur did an excellent job of tapering expectations for Love, at least compared to Rodgers, last month in Phoenix:
“Certainly, I think we’re fooling ourselves if we think he’s going to go out there and perform at a level to the likes of an Aaron Rodgers,” Matt LaFleur said at the annual league meeting last month. “This guy is a once-in-a-lifetime, generational talent. I don’t think it necessarily started that way when he first started, but he progressed into that. Like I said, it’s going to be a progression, and hopefully we can surround (Love) with enough people to help him perform at the best of his ability, and then we’ve got to do a great job as a coaching staff.
“I think we all have to temper our expectations for him,” LaFleur said. “It’s different when you’re going into a game versus when you’re starting a game. It’s going to be a process, but it’s going to be exciting for him, for us.”
Rodgers gave Jordan Love his stamp of approval last month on the Pat McAfee Show: “Jordan [Love] is going to be a great player, he’s a great kid, they got a good young team,” Rodgers said.
Whether that ends up being true or not, only time will tell. Either way, that time starts now.
What about Zach Wilson?
While one young quarterback gets his shot through the Aaron Rodgers trade, another sees his time as the starting quarterback officially ending for the immediate future.
Zach Wilson is now unquestionably the backup quarterback in New York. Wilson’s future in New York was in doubt even before Rodgers picked the Jets as his next team, but the youngster is now officially on clipboard duty.
However, this could be a blessing in disguise for the struggling young quarterback Zach Wilson. Wilson said earlier this offseason that he would make any veteran who arrived in New York’s life a living hell in camp. We know that’s not going to be the case here. Still, Wilson has spoken about how he idolized Rodgers growing up and the two struck up a relationship after Wilson entered the NFL.
Rodgers also called Wilson “super talented” on a Pat McAfee Show appearance and said, “I hope that whoever they decide to go with, a coordinator can come in and work with him and kind of break down a lot of the fundamentals for him. (Hopefully) get him playing on time because I think he’s talented enough to have a long career in the league.”
Can Zach Wilson’s mentor him and help him rediscover the game that led the Jets to select him with the second pick in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Wilson has thrown for 15 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in two years since being drafted second overall by the Jets. If Aaron Rodgers can’t help him find his path, the Jets will know it’s time to cut ties with the former BYU signal caller.
Here’s what the Jets starting offense looks like today …
QB: Aaron Rodgers
RB: Breece Hall
WR: Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Corey Davis
TE: Tyler Conklin
LT: Duane Brown
LG: Laken Tomlinson
C: Ben Jones (free agent)
RG: Alijah Vera-Tucker
RT: Rookie to be named later
Yeah, that’s pretty darn good!
There were some parting words for Rodgers on Monday.
Packers GM Brian Gutekunst on Aaron Rodgers: “He’ll always be a Packer and he’ll be one of the best that have ever done it around here. I have a lot of respect how he went about it and he’ll be missed. There’s no doubt about it. Players like that don’t come around very often.”
The Chicago Bears social team had some fun with the news as well: