On Sunday Bowl Sunday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that the New York Jets “have inquired about Aaron Rodgers’ availability” and described the action as “expected.” The Jets, along with the Las Vegas Raiders, are the betting favorites to land Rodgers’ services should he choose to not retire this offseason and the Green Bay Packers elect to roll with former first-round pick Jordan Love at quarterback.
On Saturday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero jointly reported that the Packers are willing to trade Rodgers if he requests a change of scenery. That’s an interesting development, as both head coach Matt LaFleur and general manager Brian Gutekunst have stated multiple times that they would like Rodgers to be their starting quarterback in 2023.
Gutekunst has only spoken to the media twice since final cuts back in August. The first time was during the Packers’ bye week, when Gutekunst stated, “We went through something in the offseason where there was a very big commitment on our part. It wasn’t certainly for one year,” when asked if the team wanted Rodgers to be on the squad next season. At the time, the Packers were 5-8 and Green Bay had struggled in the passing game as rookie Christian Watson had only recently developed into their man-coverage-beating threat. The Packers would go on to win their next three games, putting them in a position where a Sunday Night Football win in the final week of the season could have put them in the postseason.
The second time Gutekunst spoke to the press was in the end-of-season press conference, following their Week 18 loss to the Detroit Lions. In January, he echoed nearly the exact same statement he made during the bye week when the subject of Rodgers came up: “We made a really big commitment to [Rodgers] last offseason. As we did that, it certainly wasn’t just for this year.”
Earlier this offseason, Rodgers stated that he wouldn’t want to return to the Packers if they were going to rebuild the roster, which is more than within his rights. The question is where the line in the sand is for Rodgers to consider Green Bay in a “rebuilding” phase. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported back in late January that, “The Packers are expected to move on from certain players, which Aaron Rodgers will not like.” On The Pat McAfee Show, where Rodgers makes regular appearances on Tuesdays, the quarterback claimed that players who would potentially influence his retirement decision would be receiver Randall Cobb, receiver Allen Lazard, tight end Marcedes Lewis, tight end Robert Tonyan and left tackle David Bakhtiari. Cobb, Lazard, Lewis and Tonyan are all set to his unrestricted free agency in 2023. Bakhtiari is a potential cap casualty as he’s set to make $17.5 million in cash in the upcoming year.
Who knows what is in store for Rodgers? He could come out of his four-day sensory deprivation experiment ready to chase another opportunity or simply decide to hang up his helmet for good. According to Rapoport, though, “multiple teams have already inquired” about a potential trade for the quarterback and now we know that one of those franchises is the Jets.