Who Has Leverage?


Aaron Rodgers announced live on the Pat McAfee show last week that his intention was to be the next starting quarterback for the New York Jets. Rodgers, 39, is certainly at the end of his prime. However, the future Hall of Famer would provide a significant upgrade for the Jets. The 2021 version of Gang Green finished 7-10, but lost their last six games to miss the playoffs for the 12th straight year.

However, this team is perhaps the most talented Jets team since they reached back-to-back AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010. The problem was at the top position in sports. Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, Mike White, and Chris Strevler all took snaps at quarterback last season. That doesn’t strike much fear in opposing NFL defenses.

Wilson, the number two overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, was selected in hopes that he would lead this young core into the future. After two disastrous years at the helm, he is starting to look like one of the worst draft busts in NFL history. As of now, he is still on the roster, but the front-office understood that they needed a better option.

Enter Rodgers.

For all of his quirks off the field, the guy is damn talented. He would instantly push the Jets forward into contender status. Now the deal just needs to get done.

When will it be done? Nobody seems to have the faintest clue.

Rodgers made his announcement over a week ago that he was going to be a Jet. It was now up to the two front-offices to work out the details. The situation has now evolved into the final scene of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

Now, this question has been itching at fans and analysts for a good period of time. Who has the leverage? Is it the team who has been searching for a franchise quarterback since Broadway Joe retired? Is it the team who has a disgruntled player who is threatening to sit for an entire season and collect $60 million?

The back and forth on social media has indicated no clear winner, although both sides believe that they hold the true advantage. The answer, truly, is that no team has an advantage in this negotiation process.

The Jets have made it perfectly clear that Wilson will not be starting at quarterback in 2023. Currently, he is the only quarterback on the roster. Potential options such as Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett, and Derek Carr are already off the market. The team currently has the 13th overall selection in the upcoming NFL Draft, which is nowhere near close enough to snag one of the top four passers in the class. For them, it’s Rodgers or bust. No upper-hand. The team has already signed former Rodgers favorite Allen Lazard to be their new outside wideout, and have shown interest in other potential players that Rodgers may want to play with. All indications from the team is that he will be the guy.

The Packers have a quarterback ready to take over for Rodgers in Jordan Love. Love was chosen in the back end of the 2020 NFL Draft as the eventual replacement, and has waited patiently for three years for his shot. The Packers have no issues letting Rodgers out the door. They probably almost prefer it. He has caused headaches for the organization the past few years as he has contemplated retirement in Favre-like fashion. After a down season where the Packers missed the playoffs, they are ready to start over.

The issue for the Packers is that $60 million that team owes Rodgers if they don’t end up trading him. Rodgers has said that he will sit out and potentially retire if the team will not trade him to the Jets. Do the Packers really want to eat that $60 million in dead cap? Most would say that they don’t.

So, the deal needs to get done. It boils down to the Packers wanting a first and the Jets not believing that Rodgers is worth a first. Reports from NFL analysts have rumored that the offer on the table is a second round pick in 2023, and a conditional pick in 2024 that is dependent on the Jets 2023 season outcome.

The Packers could hold out until the Jets get desperate. The Jets can wait out until Rodgers becomes too much of a headache in the headlines or too heavy for the team’s wallet. But this deal needs to get done soon, if only for my sanity as a long, long, long suffering Jets fan.