The Aaron Rodgers saga is taking yet another turn on Tuesday. In a sign that the New York Jets are desperate to woo the veteran quarterback, the team is sending all of its top officials out on owner Woody Johnson’s private jet to meet with Rodgers.
This report comes from beat writer Rob Demovsky and other reporters at ESPN, who say that “a contingent of Jets team officials” are on the plane. The report also indicates that the Green Bay Packers have formally granted permission for the meeting to take place.
The news of the in-person visit comes after a report overnight that the Jets and Rodgers spoke on Monday. Reading the tea leaves from this sequence of reports, the likely timeline involves that initial overture from New York via phone or videoconference, when the team made its first direct pitch to Rodgers and gauged his level of interest in further discussions. That has led to the sides setting up the in-person meeting, likely at Rodgers’ home, giving the Jets to put forth a hard sell about that franchise’s plans for the four-time MVP quarterback.
Last year’s Jets team finished 7-10 and in last place in the AFC East, but it did so with an excellent defense and a fairly dismal offense. The New York defense finished fourth in both yards and points allowed, while the offense was 29th in points and 25th in total yards. Most of the struggles for the Jets’ offense came from inconsistent quarterbacking, as the trio of second-year pro Zach Wilson, veteran Joe Flacco, and career practice-squad player Mike White all started at least four games. None had a passer rating over 76, despite the trio throwing to the eventual Offensive Rookie of the Year, Garrett Wilson.
As a result, the Jets turned over their offensive coaching staff this offseason, bringing in former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett for the same position on their staff. Hackett’s one season as head coach of the Denver Broncos was a flop, as that team was unable to woo Rodgers last season and traded for Russell Wilson instead. Still, Hackett and Rodgers maintained a good relationship and he is reportedly among the Jets brass flying out for the visit, joined by all of the team’s top executives and coaches:
I’m told the Jets contingent on the way to California includes team owner Woody Johnson, GM Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, possibly others. https://t.co/yooNauScXw— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) March 7, 2023
In addition to Rodgers, the Jets expressed interest in free agent quarterback Derek Carr for meetings in recent weeks following his release by the Las Vegas Raiders. New York brought him in for a visit recently, but Carr is now off the market after signing a new deal with the New Orleans Saints, which appears to have resulted in the Jets pushing all of their eggs into the Rodgers basket for 2023. Regardless of Carr’s status, the ESPN report suggests that he was always the Jets’ “fallback option” this offseason, with Rodgers long being the team’s number one priority at quarterback.
Meanwhile, the Packers are evidently content to let Rodgers explore his options with other teams and decide if he is willing to play elsewhere in the fall. If he does decide that playing for another team is the right move for him, the two teams would then need to decide on a compensation package. However, significant discussions about a trade are also likely to have taken place already, perhaps at last week’s NFL Scouting Combine.
While fans wait As an added bit of amusement, 2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner tweeted the following after news of the Jets’ flight broke:
Aye @AaronRodgers12 I promise if you become a Jet, I won’t pick you off in practice & I’ll burn the cheesehead https://t.co/YTVj4H7ZRQ— D’ROY GARDNER (@iamSauceGardner) March 7, 2023