All has been quiet over the last few days in regards to a pending trade between the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, save for a few comments from wide receiver Allen Lazard on Saturday.
The Packers are holding strong in their attempt to sweat a better deal out of the Jets, which has been met with some fan and media frustration on both sides of the equation as the situation continues to unfold slowly.
Lazard’s decision to sign his second contract with New York this offseason came much more quickly and remains a harbinger for what most believe is eventually to come — a deal that ends with Rodgers in a Jets uniform.
The wide receiver, who has spent almost the entirety of his professional career with Rodgers playing as his quarterback, spoke to TMZ Sports over the weekend about the role Rodgers played in his decision to join the Jets and how it feels to be waiting on him as the Packers hold out for the best possible trade return.
“He was somewhat of a big reason,” Lazard told TMZ on March 25. “Ultimately it came down to two factors, one being [Jets new offensive coordinator] Nathaniel Hackett. I think that was probably the biggest piece of the puzzle for me.”
“And then knowing that Aaron was … very highly interested to go to the Jets kinda gave me the peace of mind to be able to go there,” Lazard continued. “Knowing those two guys were intending on being there, obviously coach Hackett already being there, just kinda gave me the sense to believe in the New York Jets.”
Packers Want Jets’ First-Round Pick in Exchange For Rodgers
Lazard’s comments should put to rest almost any doubt that the Packers and Jets aren’t going to get a deal done eventually. Lazard clearly indicated a belief that Rodgers will join him in New York and then reiterated the QB’s commitment to a trade that makes that happen. However, it seems the two players are going to have to wait while for their reunion in the AFC East Division.
Because of the structure of Rodgers’ contract, which will pay him $58 million in a lump sum bonus payment ahead of the 2023 regular season, Green Bay doesn’t face salary cap repercussions by holding onto the quarterback all the way up until September. That gives the Packers leverage in two ways: it keeps Rodgers out of Jets’ team activities for potentially the entire preseason and allows more time for a competing franchise to join the bidding and inflate the four-time MVP’s trade price.
Green Bay is looking to land the Jets’ top overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft — the No. 13 pick in the first round — per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The Jets are trying to limit their exposure to a second-round pick this year and a conditional pick in 2024 based on Rodgers’ playing status, how well the Jets perform with him, or both.
Recent Trade Indicates Jets Positioning to Improve Offer For Rodgers
New York recently traded wideout Elijah Moore to the Cleveland Browns in a deal that brought back the No. 42 pick. The Jets already held the rights to the No. 43 selection and had reason to clear some space in the wide receiver room, which implies the deal could have been done in the interest of seeing an end to the Rodgers saga.
It is possible New York made the move in an attempt to amass the draft capital needed to secure Rodgers if the Jets decide to blink for any reason, though indications from both sides point to a protracted stare down until at least draft night on Thursday, April 27.
The sooner the Jets can get Rodgers into camp the better as their offense is talented, though young, and Rodgers will be walking into an entirely new environment. Aside from Hackett’s presence and play-calling proclivities, Lazard will be the only other true familiar for Rodgers when he does finally don a Jets uniform.
The connection between the two remained strong in 2022, as Lazard put up career highs with 60 catches and 788 yards. He also caught six touchdown passes, which is the second highest total of his five-year NFL career, per Pro Football Reference.