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The Packers hold all leverage in an Aaron Rodgers trade with Jets

It’s time for New York to give up that first-rounder

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

At this point, the New York Jets have no other option than to trade for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay Packers know that. The quarterback market did not wait for New York or Rodgers, which is why the Packers now hold all the possible leverage in an upcoming trade.

Now that Rodgers has already stated that the Green Bay organization has handled his situation wrong on The Pat McAfee Show, the damage is done. That was the last card for Rodgers to play, unless he’s serious about retiring this offseason. After claiming that his “intention is to play for the New York Jets” on Wednesday, it’s uncertain if the Packers would even respect a retirement threat from Rodgers after he’s already told the world the plans for his future.

According to Rodgers, what’s holding up a potential trade of the quarterback to New York is the Packers “digging their heels in” on trade compensation. Earlier on Thursday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Green Bay is looking for a first-round pick in 2023 and a conditional 2024 selection, which would likely vary depending on how far the Jets go in the playoffs in 2023 and/or if Rodgers returns to play football in 2024.

And they’re going to get it. Because there’s no reason for them to blink.

As quarterbacks continue to get plucked off of the market, there’s no urgency from the Packers’ side to get a deal done for less than what they see as fair compensation. The final remaining experienced free-agent quarterbacks available are Gardner Minshew, Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. Every day, that list gets smaller.

Sure, there are four first-round quarterbacks in this upcoming draft class, but the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts are picking in the top-four selections, meaning that the Jets would have no option but to trade to the third overall pick to secure the team even having a guaranteed shot at one of the top rookie passers. In 2021, the San Francisco 49ers gave up three first-round selections to move up from 12th to 3rd in the draft, for reference. The Jets currently hold the 13th pick in the 2023 draft.

Sure, Lamar Jackson is out there for two first-round picks, but the Baltimore Ravens haven’t figured out a deal that he would actually be willing to sign. Good luck getting him to agree to an offer sheet, much less one that the Ravens wouldn’t just immediately match. Even venturing into those waters probably turns Rodgers off enough that he’d start looking elsewhere (See: Love, Jordan.) There is no backup option.

Once Derek Carr — the quarterback that the Jets told would be a first-ballot hall of famer while on a visit with the team — and Jimmy Garoppolo — who has a 38-17 record as a starter in a similar offensive system — were signed, the Jets’ leverage was spent. There’s nowhere left to run or hide.

Here are the Jets’ options:

First, they can trade a first-round pick and a conditional pick for Rodgers.

Second, they can trade up to three first-round picks to take the third rookie quarterback taken in the 2023 draft.

Last, they can ride it out with the failing Zach Wilson.

Which option do you think Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas, the head coach and general manager tandem that has combined for an 11-23 record, will choose? If those two weren’t already on the hot seat, losing out on the entire veteran quarterback market while failing to secure Rodgers would place them firmly on it.

The walls are closing in. The Packers have the Jets by the balls. It’s time to tighten the screws. If Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst wants that first-round pick, he’s going to get it, eventually.

And if the Jets offer anything less, this should be the Packers’ response: