A number of knowledgeable NFL analysts believe that quarterback Aaron Rodgers‘ contract will prove something close to untradable for the Green Bay Packers in 2023, but that position underestimates a few franchises desperate to win a Super Bowl and perched on the precipice of doing exactly that.
The Los Angeles Rams proved just last year that a franchise on the verge can buy its way to a championship ring, cap-strapped years to follow be damned. There are a handful of candidates who could choose to follow that model next season, including the formerly hapless New York Jets.
After a three-point performance against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Jets coach Robert Saleh demoted former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson in favor of backup Mike White, who owns a 1-2 career record as a starter with five touchdowns and eight interceptions. The only other quarterback on the roster is Joe Flacco.
Despite their woes under center, the Jets remain in the playoff hunt at 6-4 on the strength of a young and championship-level defense. Rookie running back Breece Hall was also ripping through opposing defenses before tearing his ACL in Week 7, amassing 463 yards and four touchdowns on 5.8 yards per attempt.
All the ingredients for a Super Bowl contender exist in New York, minus the quarterback, placing the Jets in a unique position to maximize the value of a two-time reigning MVP like Rodgers.
Rodgers’ Trade Value Remains Significant to Team Like Jets
Regardless of what happens over the remainder of the season, the Jets will own the rights to their picks in each of the first four rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. There is plenty enough capital there to get a deal done for Rodgers.
Peter King of NBC Sports suggested on Monday that the going price for flipping Rodgers to a different AFC squad, the Las Vegas Raiders, would be starter Derek Carr and a third-round pick. While Carr is a proven commodity, Wilson is the exact opposite.
The Packers are unlikely to be interested in taking back a player like Wilson and considering him an asset, especially with a first-round prospect of their own waiting in the wings in Jordan Love. Thus, the more likely asking price for Rodgers would be the Jets’ first-round and third-round draft selections in 2023, if not even more.
Green Bay may need to agree to pay down some of the nearly $100 million remaining on Rodgers’ contract in any deal, though the savings of transitioning to Love over the next two seasons would be substantial enough to make doing so financially feasible.
Furthermore, there is reason to believe the Packers could negotiate a reasonable contract settlement with the right trade partner — one such as the Jets with an otherwise championship-level roster, the aspirations to match and no options with more talent and experience under center than Rodgers can provide.
The move makes sense for the Packers, too. Whether you love him or have grown tired of him, it’s clear Green Bay needs to begin looking to life beyond Rodgers, and they need to begin during this season. The team must get Love starting reps to decide whether to extend him through 2024 on his fifth-year option, a choice that needs to be made by May of next year.
If Love isn’t the answer, then the Packers will require all the draft capital they can get to maneuver their way up through a QB-heavy 2023 class that includes more than one potential franchise signal caller.
Rodgers’ Demise Has Been Exaggerated Amid Packers’ Struggles
As recently as last offseason Rodgers would have commanded at least a couple of first-round choices in any trade and then some, either another mid-round pick or a proven veteran player with some juice left.
But the Packers quarterback has struggled by his standards in 2022. Some of his difficulties can be attributed to a lack of talent in the wide receiver room and a banged up thumb on his throwing hand, but the four-time MVP also missed more than one potential game-changing throws last Thursday against the Tennessee Titans in a home contest Green Bay desperately needed to win.
Despite his uncharacteristic shortcomings at times this season, Rodgers remains a top-10 talent at the position (though much closer to 10th than 1st), and his statistics back that up. He has thrown for 2,542 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions through 11 games. At that clip, Rodgers will throw for approximately 4,000 yards, 30 touchdowns and just 10 picks over full a 17-game season.
Give him weapons, a clean bill of health and a defense that can stop the run, and there is no reason to believe Rodgers can’t elevate the Jets to the status of a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
A strong argument can be made that opening a real championship window is worth the $100 million Rodgers is owed over the next two years of his contract and then some, particularly to a team that is not currently spending big at the position and hasn’t hoisted a Lombardi Trophy since 1969.