The blockbuster trade that rocked the NFL offseason has the potential to be the defining storyline of the upcoming 2023 season.
As teams begin to open training camps across the country, several stars have changed zip codes and the outlooks of many franchises have been dramatically altered.
The Miami Dolphins added an elite backstop to their secondary, acquiring All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. In Dallas, the Cowboys believe they’ve narrowed the gap on the Philadelphia Eagles by adding dynamic cornerback Stephon Gilmore and deep-threat receiver Brandin Cooks to a roster that won 12 games in 2022.
However, no move has the potential to tip the balance of the entire league quite like the New York Jets adding future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a young core. With Rodgers behind center, the Jets are primed to potentially ascend to become one of the Kansas City Chiefs‘ chief challengers for conference supremacy in the AFC.
“Aaron Rodgers going to the Jets was by far the biggest move,” an AFC coach told Heavy. “And there’s not even a close second!”
The coach, who was granted anonymity to speak freely about another team, seemingly speaks for the majority of the league.
NFL Opinions Split on Aaron Rodgers’ Potential Impact on Jets
Heavy spoke to nearly a dozen current coaches, scouts, and front office executives, surveying their opinion on which offseason move will make the biggest impact.
While their view of just how transcendent Rodgers will be to the Jets’ chances varied, they all believe Jets general manager Joe Douglas made the biggest move of all.
“You take two rejects and replace them with a Hall of Famer,” an NFL offensive coordinator told Heavy. “Now, the Jets are instant Super Bowl contenders. It’s a tough conference, but New York is definitely in the mix.”
That’s exactly the kind of impact Douglas is betting Rodgers will make. That’s the only reason a franchise trades the No. 13 and 42 overall picks, a sixth-round pick, along with a conditional second-round selection the following year, that can become a first-rounder if Rodgers plays 65% of New York’s snaps.
Through the first 17 years of his career, Rodgers perennially had the Packers in the mix. With one Super Bowl ring on his finger, Rodgers arrives in East Rutherford with four MVP Awards, four First-Team All-Pro selections and 10 Pro Bowl appearances already on his resumè.
However, the Jets haven’t made the postseason since 2010, haven’t won more than 7 games since 2015, and not everyone is convinced that Rodgers is going to be the savior Gang Green is betting on him to be.
“You have to remember, it’s still the Jets,” an NFC scout bluntly said. “They’re going to suck. George Young used to say, ‘The f****** Jets always win the offseason, but when it comes to playing, they’ll always just be the f****** Jets.'”
While Rodgers might not be able to single-handedly carry the Jets to a Lombardi, it’s difficult to envision the trade bombing as spectacularly in Gotham as the scout suggests.
After all, the Jets lost six games by one score in 2022, while notching victories against the division rival Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and blew out Rodgers’ Packers in a hostile Lambeau Field.
How Explosive Will the Jets Offense Be With Rodgers Under Center?
Rodgers was plagued by nagging injuries in 2022 but still passed for 3,695 yards with 26 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, en route to finishing as the league’s 11th-leading passer.
Douglas and the Jets clearly believe Rodgers closes the gap on Josh Allen and the explosive Buffalo Bills that have made the AFC Championship Game and AFC Divisional round the past two seasons. As well as the upstart — and loaded Miami Dolphins who have become a chic Super Bowl pick as 2023 nears.
Rodgers’ fresh start in New York has him leading an offense with dynamic second-year wide receiver Garrett Wilson, familiar faces Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, with explosive second-year running back Breece Hall primed to return from a torn ACL at some point this season.
That’s a lot of young talent. But, some wonder if Rodgers, who looked skittish in the pocket and reticent to contact at times last season, has what it takes to maximize New York’s budding young core.
“Are we sure the Jets are going to be that explosive,” an AFC South scout questioned. “Aaron isn’t a guy who’s known for taking risks downfield. He’s the most risk-averse of any great quarterback.”
Rodgers’ Departure ‘Changes Absolutely Everything’ for Packers
While most eyes have been trained on the Jets, and whether Rodgers can give New York’s lone Lombardi Trophy some company in a rather sparse trophy case, the trade is going to shape the futures of two franchises.
“I think Green Bay losing Rodgers is just massive,” an NFC personnel director told Heavy. “It just changes absolutely everything for them.”
Just as Rodgers had to sit and bide his time behind future Hall of Famer Brett Favre, Jordan Love now enters from stage right in TitleTown, aiming to continue the Packers’ rich history of success.
In 10 career games, Love has completed 60.2% of his passes for 606 yards with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Love now has the opportunity to prove Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst was prudent to not only draft him but turn the page to a new era.
“I’m not sold on Love, so I guess we’ll see if I’m right,” the rival executive said. “But, I guess they have to find out one way or the other.”
In the ever-evolving NFL landscape, the blockbuster trade sending Rodgers to the Jets has the potential to reshape the futures of both franchises.
While Rodgers aims to lead Gang Green to new heights, his departure leaves a massive void in Green Bay. As the curtain rises on a new era for the Packers, all eyes turn to Love to see if he can fill the shoes of a future Hall of Famer.