After 18 years with the Green Bay Packers, future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been traded to the New York Jets, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones reports. In a move that seemed like it was a long time coming after Rodgers declared his intent was to play for the Jets, the deal is done.
New York sent this year's pick No. 13, a 2023 second-round pick (No. 42), a sixth-round pick (No. 207) and a conditional 2024 second-round pick to Green Bay in exchange for Rodgers, the No. 15 pick and a 2023 fifth round pick (No. 170), according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The second-round pick becomes a first-rounder if Rodgers plays 65% of the snaps this season. Both the Packers and Jets can now breathe a sigh of relief since they both received what they wanted in an exchange that almost didn't happen.
"Oh, there were a few," Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said Monday, via USA Today, at his pre-draft press conference when asked if there were moments where he thought the trade wasn't going to get done. "It was a long process. I felt like it would get done all along, but there were times you had to be careful with how you proceeded going forward."
Gutekunst revealed the obvious when asked why he chose to deal Rodgers now: To help accelerate Jordan Love's development. The 2020 first-round pick QB is entering the fourth season of his rookie deal, and Green Bay has until May 1 to decide whether or not to guarantee his $20.3 million, fully-guaranteed fifth-year option for 2024.
"Aaron is obviously up there in age," Gutekunst said, via ESPN. "I think he's got some really good football left in him. As we got through the offseason, this made sense … Having (Jordan Love) sit for another year would've really delayed (his development)."
The Jets' side of the trade is jumping for joy now that they know a future Hall of Famer is going to be their quarterback in 2023. Owner Woody Johnson tweeted a rhetorical, happy questions to Jets Nation shortly after the deal was confirmed:
How’s everyone feeling?— Woody Johnson (@woodyjohnson4) April 24, 2023
Rodgers' career in Green Bay began in much the same way as it ended -- with a controversy surrounding the future of a franchise legend. A first-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Rodgers spent three seasons backing up Brett Favre, who after each of those seasons pondered retirement before eventually deciding to come back for at least one more year. Just as the Packers decided way back in 2008 that they had had their fill of the Favre era and would move onto Rodgers, they are now doing the same with Rodgers himself and moving onto Jordan Love, whom they selected in the first round of the draft three years ago. Rodgers and Favre were even traded to the exact same team, on the exact same timeline with respect to when their successor was drafted.
It was on March 16 when Rodgers first announced where he would be headed next.
"Since Friday, I made it clear that my intention was to play and my intention is to play for the New York Jets," Rodgers said that week on "The Pat McAfee Show."
Rodgers went into the offseason leaning toward retirement, he told McAfee, but realized during a meditation retreat that he'd like to keep playing. But the Packers are ready to move on, Rodgers explained, and now he is moving on.
In 15 seasons as the team's starter, Rodgers compiled a 147-75-1 regular-season record, completing 65.3% of his passes at an average of 7.7 yards per attempt, throwing for 59,055 yards, 475 touchdowns, and just 105 interceptions. He won the Most Valuable Player award four times, was named a first-team All-Pro four times, a second-teamer once, and a Pro Bowler 10 times, and won both a Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP. He leaves Green Bay as the franchise's all-time leader in passing touchdowns, and also the owner of NFL single-season records for both passer rating and interception rate. He joins a Jets team that sports one of the NFL's best defenses and an intriguing skill-position group, and reunites with former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who now has the same role in New York.
"He'll always be a Packer and he'll be one of the best that have ever done it around here," Gutekunst said. "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 NFL offseason had already seen a couple veteran quarterbacks get taken off the market. Derek Carr was the first QB domino to fall, as the former Raider signed a reported four-year deal with the New Orleans Saints. Geno Smith also re-upped with the Seahawks, while Daniel Jones did the same with the Giants.
The trade wheels got rolling when a contingent of Jets team officials reportedly flew out to California on March 7 to meet with Rodgers and make their pitch in person. ESPN reported that team owner Woody Johnson, general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett were on the plane.