After weeks and weeks of speculation, Aaron Rodgers' split from the Packers may or may not be imminent. NFL reporter Trey Wingo suggested Monday that a trade sending the future Hall of Fame quarterback to the Jets is practically "done." Several Jets players appeared to confirm the news by sharing their elation on social media. But there has still been no word from Rodgers, who previously hinted he'd announce his 2023 plans prior to the start of free agency, which unofficially began Monday.
While Rodgers landing with the Jets makes sense for all parties involved, what happens if A-Rod ultimately doesn't sign off on the move? New York has been broadcasting its desire for a proven veteran QB since long before the start of free agency, and some of the top alternatives -- Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo, for example -- are already booked for new opportunities elsewhere.
Here are our suggested backup plans in the event Rodgers doesn't follow Brett Favre's footsteps with a leap to the Big Apple:
1. Go big for Lamar Jackson
There's an argument to be made that this is what the Jets should be doing instead of courting Rodgers. Jackson may lack the resume of A-Rod, but he's also 26, not going on 40, and has some of the most electrifying traits of all NFL QBs. New York also has a rare opportunity to negotiate with the former MVP thanks to his non-exclusive franchise tag. The Ravens could well match any offer the Jets might make, preferring to let Gang Green negotiate for them. But if Jackson is bent on a fresh start as a result of his contract drama, he could still parlay interest from the Jets into a push to be dealt to the AFC East contender. New York could potentially dangle the No. 13 overall pick in the 2023 draft as part of trade talks. And landing Jackson would theoretically solve its need for star QB power in both the short and long term.
2. Trade up to draft a QB
Easier said than done, yes, but think about it: the reason the Jets are after a proven QB is because most of the rest of their roster is built to compete right now. So it's not as if auctioning several premium picks to jump from No. 13 would be detrimental to the development of the program; the Jets already have promising building blocks at running back, wide receiver, pass rusher, etc. Packaging No. 13 with a future first and other Day Two picks -- or perhaps QB Zach Wilson, or WR Corey Davis, or other expendables -- could get them close to or inside the top five, where one of C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson or Will Levis should be within reach. The question, of course, is whether they could guarantee getting a guy they love. But going back to the first-round well for a QB feels smarter than overpaying for a middling backup type just for the sake of getting a vet.
3. Settle for what's left
The saddest but most likely option in the event Rodgers spurns the Jets, this just entails exploring the leftovers of the free agent market. Fortunately, this year's veteran crop is especially plentiful, even after guys like Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo and old friend Sam Darnold found new homes. Eagles backup Gardner Minshew would be an intriguing option considering his starting experience. Journeyman Jacoby Brissett is a tried-and-true plug-and-play leader, albeit an unspectacular one. Expected Saints castoff Jameis Winston might offer the most pure juice as a passer, though he comes with his own turbulent qualities.