DECYFR’D: The Aaron Rodgers Trade

DECYFR’D: The Aaron Rodgers Trade

It finally happened.

After months of speculation, and nearly six weeks since the quarterback appeared on the Pat McAfee show and expressed his desire to change teams, Aaron Rodgers is a New York Jet.

The Green Bay Packers sent Rodgers, the 15th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and a 2023 fifth-round draft pick to the New York Jets in exchange for the 13th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, a 2023 second-round draft pick, a 2023 sixth-round draft pick, and a conditional 2024 second-round draft pick that could eventually become a first-round pick if Rodgers plays at least 65 percent of New York’s snaps in the 2023 season.

The trade addresses the position New York had the most problems with last season, as the team started the year with Joe Flacco at quarterback thanks to starter Zach Wilson’s injury. Wilson, the second overall pick in the draft two years ago, was eventually benched in favour of backup Mike White after a game against the New England Patriots in Week 11. Wilson completed just nine passes for 77 yards, and the Jets lost 10-3.

To make matters worse for the struggling New York offense, the 2022 Jets’ defense ranked among the league’s best – allowing 18.6 points per game, good for fourth best in the NFL – so blame for New York’s 7-10 record and failure to reach the playoffs fell at the feet of the quarterbacks.

On paper, Rodgers provides head coach Robert Saleh an upgrade at the game’s most important position, as the four-time NFL MVP has been selected to 10 Pro Bowls in his career. On the other hand, the Jets haven’t had a Pro Bowl quarterback since their last high-profile acquisition from Green Bay – Brett Favre in the 2008 season.

Besides the prospect of having a Pro Bowler under center in New York for the first time in 15 years, Jets fans aren’t just excited at the thought of watching Rodgers play – they’re excited as he gives the team a genuine chance at making a deep postseason run.

To go alongside their talented defense, New York’s roster also features receiver Garrett Wilson, the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, running back Breece Hall, and Rodgers’ former Green Bay teammate, receiver Allen Lazard.

However, Rodgers struggled in 2022, throwing the second-most interceptions in a season in his career, and Green Bay finished 8-9 and missed the playoffs, so it remains to be seen which version of the quarterback New York will get. But if the Jets see a bounce-back year from Rodgers, they could finally end the league’s longest active postseason drought.

After providing fans in New York hope, the trade also ushers in a new era in Green Bay.

For the first time since the 1992 season, the Packers will have a starting quarterback to begin the year not named Aaron Rodgers or Brett Favre. Instead, Jordan Love will, presumably, take to the field as the team’s starter in Week 1, marking a new beginning for the franchise.

Love has only started one game in his NFL career – a 13-7 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2021 – so he will need to show he can succeed at this level and endear himself to a fanbase used to stability at quarterback.

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur will also need to prove himself in the upcoming season. Last year, LaFleur missed the playoffs for the first time since becoming Green Bay’s head coach, after making the postseason in each of his first three seasons in charge – but this will be his first season without Rodgers.

The question of how well the Packers will play, and how many games they will win, in the franchise’s next chapter can only be answered in September, but they managed to obtain draft picks for a player who made it clear he no longer wanted to be there.

Nearly 15 years after Green Bay moved on from a future Hall of Fame quarterback for one they’d drafted in the first round a few years prior, the team has done the same once more.

Favre went to the Jets in 2008 just as Rodgers has done in 2023, again signalling another changing of the guard in Green Bay – and, Jets fans would hope, the start of an unforgettable season in New York.

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