Aaron Rodgers Trade: Do Packers Or Jets Have More Leverage?

A complicated answer to a straightforward question

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Mar 17, 2023

Aaron Rodgers wants to play for the Jets. The Packers don’t want Rodgers on their team. The Jets haven’t had a Pro Bowl quarterback since, checks notes, Brett Favre?

It’s certainly a strange situation, but all parties involved should want to get this done, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t. The most likely scenario for how this all plays out is clear: Rodgers will start for the Jets in Week 1 as they begin the chase for the second Super Bowl in franchise history, and the Packers will start Jordan Love as they start their next era of quarterback play in Green Bay.

Getting to that destination, though, is going to be easier said than done. We know Rodgers wants to play, and we know where he wants to do so. The hold-up, at this point, comes from the two teams. Quite frankly, it’s easy to see why. Even if Packers president Mark Murphy put his cards on the table while simultaneously inserting his foot into his mouth last week, Green Bay is still trading a four-time MVP at the most important position in sports. The flip side? The Jets — and everyone else — knows Rodgers wants to play for them and no one else.

That’s why there’s no simple answer to the question of who has the leverage here.

“Now, the Jets can’t not do a deal for Rodgers. He told them, and the world, he wants to come,” SI.com’s Albert Breer argued in a recent column. “… If you’re the Jets, and you don’t get Rodgers … then what?”

That part is certainly true. The Jets themselves basically spiked the football with a tweet Wednesday during Rodgers’ interview on “The Pat McAfee Show” where he declared his intentions for 2023. Jets fans already are envisioning a reverse Ray Bourque with Joe Namath handing over the No. 12 to Rodgers. The one piece the Jets desperately needed was the quarterback, and there haven’t been many better in the history of the sport.

The argument against that isn’t complicated. What exactly do the Packers do if they don’t trade Rodgers? The man is owed roughly $60 million in 2023. Technically, he could just, you know, show up and get paid if Green Bay inexplicably pushed away from the negotiating table. That very obvious hypothetical is not going to work for them. Rodgers definitely isn’t going to have a change of heart and take snaps in Lambeau Field next season.

The Packers did do something kind of brilliant with Rodgers’ latest deal. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport was the latest to point this out Friday, but the Packers don’t have any sort of deadline or drop-dead date to guarantee Rodgers’ 2023 salary. They literally have until Week 1 to make a decision. They probably aren’t going to wait that long, though they certainly can hang that over the Jets’ heads to get New York to sweeten the pot.

Then again, maybe not.

“The only real leverage point is if 2023 picks are going to be included in this deal, and I believe that at least one would be, (so) it would have to be done by the draft,” Rapoport said Friday on McAfee’s show. “Other than that, I don’t know.”

It very well could come down to that. Pro Football Talk earlier this week reported Green Bay could be willing to take this thing all the way down to the 2023 NFL Draft which begins April 27. At the very least, the Packers know they have someone — Love — who they’re comfortable playing in 2023. The Jets can’t exactly say the same.

But this train is probably too far down the tracks to turn it around. Both organizations will likely find something resembling common ground — probably centered around conditional draft picks — and it will get done.

As for answering the leverage question, Rapoport probably gave the best, if not most boring, answer.

“It’s all the same: Neither side and both sides have the leverage because both want it to get done, they just haven’t been able to figure out a price,” he told McAfee. “I could argue either way that the other side needs to get it done. … There are reasons why this has been so hard — there’s not a lot of precedence for this — and neither side has the leverage.”

And, so, we wait.

Thumbnail photo via Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports Images
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