After a six-week wait, Aaron Rodgers leaves behind his impressive legacy in Green Bay and heads to the bright lights and massive expectations of the Big Apple.
The New York Jets agreed to a deal Monday to acquire the four-time NFL MVP from the Packers, according to a person with knowledge of the trade. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams have not officially announced the deal.
Packers general manager Brian Gudkunst said in a pre-draft news conference that the deal has not been finalized but should be completed before the draft begins Thursday.
“We expected it to be done very quickly, hopefully soon,” Gudkunst said. “A lot of things have been agreed upon. Some things to go through.”
The Jets will receive Rodgers, the 15th overall pick and the fifth round pick from the Packers this year, according to another person with knowledge of the trade. In exchange, Green Bay would receive the 13th overall pick, this year’s second-rounder (No. 42) and sixth-rounder and a conditional 2024 second-round pick, which could become a first-rounder if Rodgers plays 65% of the plays. to New York this season.
ESPN first announced the agreement on terms between the teams in a contract.
Rodgers, 39, spent a few days in February at a secluded retreat in Oregon contemplating his career and future — leaving fans and reporters speculating about what he might decide.
He wanted to play again on March 10 — and he was exposed and deliberated some more before deciding for the Jets. Rodgers made his intentions official on “The Pat McAfee Show.” March 15 on YouTube and SiriusXM. It came after New York sent a team consisting of owner Woody Johnson, coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas to Rodgers’ home in Southern California in early March.
Then he and the sports world waited — and waited — for the Packers and Jets to finally close the deal.
“We’ve been doing this for a while,” Gudkunst said. “I think going beyond the draft would have been tough for both teams.”
Weeks of negotiations between fans — and the teams — over when or if the trade would end were sometimes stalled.
“We’re excited,” Johnson told reporters March 28 at the league’s annual meetings. “As we look forward, I think we’re optimistic. But we have a plan, so we’re willing to stick to our plan. I don’t think anybody is hyperventilating at this point.
It took some time, but the parties were finally able to agree on compensation. The deal comes after Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2021, struggled through his first two seasons in New York for one-time Super Bowl champion.
New York was 7-10 last season, ending a six-game losing streak that extended the NFL’s longest active playoff drought to a franchise-record 12 straight.
With the Jets, Rodgers reunites with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as NFL coordinator Mike LaFleur tries to jumpstart an offense that has been under Matt’s younger brother, who was Rodgers’ coach in Green Bay for the past four years.
Rodgers joins some promising young playmakers such as wide receiver Garrett Wilson, the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, and running back Brees Hall.
“There are a lot of reasons why the Jets are attractive,” Rodgers said during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.” “But I have a coach like no coach I’ve ever had. He’s the coordinator there.
Saleh has admitted a few times this offseason that the Jets are looking for a veteran quarterback to round out a top-five defense. Johnson said he was “absolutely” willing to pay the established signal caller if Douglas could get him — “the missing piece,” he called it.
They got one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.
Rodgers said shortly after the season ended that he was deciding whether to return to the Packers for a 19th season, retire or request a trade. Meanwhile, the Jets explored a few quarterback options, including meeting with free agent Derek Carr at their facility and then again at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
But after Carr agreed to terms with New Orleans, it became even more clear that New York would be all-in on Rodgers — as long as he wanted to play there.
It’s reminiscent of the spectacular trade the Jets made in 2008, when they acquired Brett Favre — who turned 39 a few months later — from the Packers. And, coincidentally, Rodgers clears the way to start in Green Bay.
Rodgers was the league MVP in 2020 and 2021, but underwhelmed last season while playing through a broken right thumb and dealing with the absence of star wideout Davante Adams, who was traded to Las Vegas. He had the lowest passer rating as a starter (91.1) and threw 12 interceptions, his highest total since 2008. The Packers went 8-9 and missed the playoffs to win three straight NFC North titles.
Rodgers led the Packers to their most recent Super Bowl title during the 2010 season. Rodgers never got the Packers back to the Super Bowl, but he helped turn them into annual contenders. The Packers have lost the NFC Championship Game in four of the past nine seasons.
“I’ve had nothing but love and admiration for what Aaron has done for so many people in our organization,” Matt LaFleur said during the NFL meetings in Phoenix last month.
Rodgers’ departure marks a sea change for the Packers after nearly three decades of Hall of Fame-level quarterback production in Favre and Rodgers. Next in line is Jordan Love, a 2020 first-round pick who has just one career start.
Rodgers admitted the move surprised him. He skipped the Packers’ 2021 mandatory minicamp in a conflict with team management before reporting to camp and produced a second consecutive MVP season. (He also won the award in 2011 and 2014.) But Pages patched things up later.
When asked at the Packers’ mandatory minicamp last June if he expected to finish his career in Green Bay, Rodgers replied: “Yeah. Definitely.”
Then came the 2022 season, which didn’t go according to plan.
Rodgers will now lead a franchise that hasn’t been to a Super Bowl since Joe Namath led the franchise to victory in its only appearance in January 1969.
And quarter problems have often been the main culprits in the struggles. That was especially the case during the Jets’ current playoff drought.
Saleh said the Jets are committed to drafting Wilson in 2021.
The day after the season ended, Wilson joked that he was welcoming a veteran starter to claim his job and said he planned to “make that dude’s life hell every day in practice.”
Little did he know then that “that dude” was the quarterback he tried to emulate as a teenager — and he’s now in New York trying to bring the Jets to another long-awaited Super Bowl.
AP Pro Football Writer Rob Madi and AP Sports Writer Steve McGurkey contributed.
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