Even when he is being direct about his intentions, nothing involving Aaron Rodgers is ever easy. We are now at the end of another week and the enigmatic quarterback still remains on the Green Bay Packers’ roster. Both sides have reached the point of no return, so he will inevitably become the new face of the New York Jets. The question now becomes who will emerge the winner of these trade negotiations?
The Packers are heading into a rare period of uncertainty after having Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers as their franchise stars for more than a combined three decades. Sure, the last couple of seasons have been rife with drama, speculation and some postseason heartbreak , but there was still an underlying sense of comfort built in. Rodgers’ discontent was becoming another inconvenient fact of life like long lines at the DMV or Daylight saving time that fans just had to endure.
Now he really is on his way out, though. Both sides are ready for a fresh start. The New York Jets are happy to oblige. Some would even say desperate, following a recent run of NFL Draft misfires at the quarterback position. How desperate they are, though, will determine the terms of this trade.
Both franchises have clear goals on the negotiation table. New York does not want to overpay for a 39-year-old who could be out the door in just one or two years. Green Bay will want to milk everything it can from the four-time MVP so it can quickly reload an already decent roster.
When trades are so public, there is usually little leverage to be had, but in this case one party does have an edge. Below, we will delve into why the Packers have leverage over the Jets in this impending Aaron Rodgers trade.
Why the Packers have Aaron Rodgers trade leverage
Neither team can really bluff their way in these proceedings. Rodgers has said he wants to go to the Meadowlands. Any waffling now will just irritate an already unpredictable player. Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst can apply some pressure, though. If the Jets push back too much, they could run the risk of their QB target becoming disillusioned once more.
They also have no back-up plan. Jordan Love is set to to succeed Rodgers in Lambeau, but who does New York have? Management cannot in good conscience hand the reins back over to Zach Wilson after a dismal two years. The fans deserve better. Moreover, so does Wilson. He has been labeled both an all-time bust and a poor leader. Any chance for redemption will not happen while he wears the Gotham green.
"Since Friday, I made it clear that my intention was to play and … play for the New York Jets."
— QB Aaron Rodgers tells Pat McAfee he plans to play for the Jets and end 18 seasons with the Green Bay Packers pic.twitter.com/8cbMQaujiu
— The Recount (@therecount) March 15, 2023
Fan favorite Mike White is also off the table after signing with the Miami Dolphins. If the Jets somehow fumble this trade, their reputation would never survive. The franchise has essentially printed these luxurious brochures for an island getaway and dropped them all over town. They cannot come back with a run-down cabin in the woods.
Legions of enraged Jets fans would force owner Woody Johnson to retreat back to England. The Meadowlands would be in ruins. The question is are they aware of that type of apocalyptic backlash?
Gutekunst surely is, which is why he is in no hurry to finalize a deal. Jets general manager Joe Douglas does not come off as a pushover, but he might not have the ammunition to win this war of attrition with the Packers front office.
Obviously, he should stand firm on the No. 13 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. That is an asset that the team cannot afford to part with if they are going to surround Aaron Rodgers with sufficient talent, whether on the offensive line or on defense. Trading for Rodgers equates with immediate Super Bowl ambitions. Shipping out a premium pick contradicts this time-sensitive goal.
Logically that means the accepted offer will be centered around this year’s second-rounder (No. 43). Rodgers is just one year removed from wining back-to-back MVPs, but Green Bay probably does not have enough leverage to squeeze out something better. They can demand another second or multiple mid-rounders. That would still be a victory. Still, Gutekunst should keep asking about a 2024 first round pick.
Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs each flashed plenty of promise last season. Aaron Jones brings consistent production. Jaire Alexander remains one of the best cornerbacks in the league. The Packers can compete for an NFC North title just next year if Love really is the answer. Additional draft picks will only increase his and the team’s chances to excel in this new era.
The Jets can live with that too. The number of draft picks traded away will be irrelevant to the Gang Green if their team is battling Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs for a trip to Allegiant Stadium next February.
It will be interesting to see if negotiations escalate in the coming days, or weeks. In any case, dragged out trade talks are a fitting end to this long and eventful Aaron Rodgers saga.