The Green Bay Packers have lost multiple former players to Aaron Rodgers and his new team, New York Jets, but one veteran leader from the past five seasons doesn’t appear to have any interest in a reunion with the 39-year-old quarterback.
Playing for Rodgers’ new team doesn’t appeal to free agent tight end Marcedes Lewis, 38, because of the tax rate, according to Justin Mosqueda of SB Nation’s Acme Packing Company.
“The reason isn’t a personal rift with Rodgers, but the tax rate in New York/New Jersey,” Mosqueda wrote in a story published May 1. “This is why reported interest from the Las Vegas Raiders, who play in an income-tax-less Nevada, is significant.”
The 10.75% income tax rate in New Jersey, where the Jets are headquartered, is the fourth highest in the nation, behind only California, Hawaii and New York. Based on Lewis’ 2022 salary of $1.17 million, he would have paid about $126,000 if he lived in New Jersey. That doesn’t factor in signing and performance bonuses, which are typically taxed in a player’s home state, according to Forbes. It also doesn’t factor New Jersey’s property tax, which is the highest in the nation, or property tax. In regard to tax burden, a 2019 story by Kiplinger ranked the Jets as the seventh costliest team to play for.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported in mid-March that the Raiders were interested in signing Lewis, but as of May 5 he was still a free agent.
Despite the Packers’ limited cap space of $17 million, general manager Brian Gutekunst hasn’t ruled out a reunion with Lewis or other former players who are still free agents, including Mason Crosby and Adrian Amos. All three of their jersey numbers are still available after rookies were assigned numbers following the 2023 NFL draft.
Other Former Packers Bolting for New York
Other former Packers have already found a new home with the Jets.
Wide receiver Allen Lazard signed on with the Jets before a trade for Rodgers was even finalized in April. Lazard signed a four-year, $44 million contract with the AFC East contender at the very start of free agency, waiting patiently to officially reunite with his quarterback leading up to the week of this year’s draft.
A handful of other former Packers were a bit more patient in waiting to sign on with the Jets, not committing to New York until after the trade had gone through. Former Packers offensive lineman Billy Turner signed a one-year deal following a visit with the Jets, while one of Rodgers’ closest friends, Randall Cobb, signed a one-year deal of his own shortly after.
The Jets also hired former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who was Rodgers offensive coordinator from 2019 to 2021, when Rodgers won two league MVP awards.
Do the Packers Need Marcedes Lewis?
The Packers had a glaring need at tight end heading into the draft, and they will require a veteran like Lewis in that position room for 2023.
With Josiah Deguara and Tyler Davis as the only tight ends under contract for next season, the Packers double-dipped at the position in this year’s draft, taking Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft on Day 2 of the three-day event.
While Musgrave and Kraft bring exciting skill sets to Matt LaFleur’s offense, a veteran mentor like Lewis could help them develop at the NFL level.