The price for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is going up.
The least lucrative predictions have slotted Rodgers’ trade value at a mere mid-round pick, just one year removed from back-to-back MVP campaigns. The rationale behind such a moderate return is three-pronged — Rodgers is 39 years old, playing on an albatross two-year contract he may not even see through and, all things being equal, Green Bay would prefer to move on (the latter per Adam Schefter of ESPN on January 29).
Then Tom Brady retired, and everything changed.
The Las Vegas Raiders had positioned themselves as players for Brady, while the threat of a deal with the San Francisco 49ers was ever-lingering. Not to mention a return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was still on the table.
But Brady removed himself from the board and the law of supply and demand kicked in. While the Raiders, and potentially the Bucs, become more realistic destinations for Rodgers via a trade, it’s the impact of the development on the New York Jets that truly moves the needle on Rodgers’ trade value discussion.
New York was already the favorite among potential landing spots with a roster talented enough that the addition of Rodgers would make the team a legitimate contender. Now, presumably with more competition to deal with, the Jets should be motivated to offer more than they would have initially — up to as many as three high-end picks, according to Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report.
Rodgers Can Garner 2 First-Rounders, 1 Second-Rounder From Jets, With Caveat
Knox suggested that the Jets might offer up to two first-round picks and a second-round selection for Rodgers — the type of haul he was expected to command last offseason following an MVP campaign and Green Bay earning the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
There is one small, though meaningful, caveat to the suggested trade package, however. In this proposal the picks would come on a one-year delay, with the first-rounders arriving in 2024 and 2025, while the Packers would pick up a 2024 second-rounder. That would mean that if Rodgers played out his deal, the Jets would convey selections to Green Bay immediately after both of his seasons in New York. That stipulation would almost certainly render those assets less valuable than under any other circumstances considering the remaining realistic options for the Jets under center.
Knox acknowledged the difficulties that range from trade packaging to salary cap issues to timing for both teams, but laid out his argument in the pro column as follows:
New York appears to be a quarterback away from contention, and franchise owner Woody Johnson is eager to make a deep postseason run possible.
The Jets are loaded with talent and likely would have made the playoffs if not for inconsistent quarterback play. … With weapons like Garrett Wilson, Tyler Conklin and Corey Davis at [Rodgers’] disposal, he might just return to Pro Bowl form too.
There’s no guarantee that Rodgers would be willing to play in New York — though, the Jets’ recent hire of his former offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett, could sway him — the Packers appear willing to sign off on such a trade.
A lot would have to unfold for this trade to happen, but it’s hard to argue that putting Rodgers in the AFC East wouldn’t reshape the NFL in 2023.
Rodgers Makes Telling Comments on 49ers Trade at Golf Tournament
Rodgers, for his part, has been mostly quiet on the topic of his playing future.
Earlier this week, on the January 31 edition of The Pat McAfee Show, the QB said he would make a decision on his retirement relatively soon, though not before the Super Bowl is played on February 12. However, Rodgers is likely to keep that retirement card handy for use as a quasi no-trade clause if Green Bay tries to ship him somewhere he doesn’t want to go.
Rodgers did cross off one destination on Thursday when he said, “Not going to San Fran,” in answer to a semi-sarcastic question about where he might play next year while standing on a tee box at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament.
Exactly how seriously to take his comments on a potential future with the Niners is hard to say. That fireworks are coming soon to the Rodgers’ sweepstakes, however, is all but a certainty, and the Jets should be major players in the proceedings.
This is fine as long as Rodgers rights return to the Packers if they don’t receive all three picks. We can’t have the Jets giving the Vikings another quarterback.