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Packers, Jets trade negotiation over Aaron Rodgers may not be done yet

If New York wants to use its 1st- or 2nd-round pick at the deadline, they’ll have to come back to the table with GM Brian Gutekunst.

NFL: New York Jets Training Camp Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, former Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers adjusted his contract with the New York Jets. Ultimately, Rodgers left about $35 million over two years on the table when compared to the deal that he signed with the Packers in 2022.

Since then, Rodgers has told NBC Sports’ Peter King that a factor in signing that cheaper deal was that he wanted the Jets to be aggressive at the trade deadline.

“This year, compared to like 2005, the amount of transactions that happen now with guys getting cut and the amount of trades—way more than before. Big names move at the trade deadline now. I wanted to make sure that if somebody valuable came available that we’d be able to get him. I’m very happy with the contract. I feel great about it.”

Here’s the catch, though: Due to the nature of the conditions of Rodgers’ trade, the Jets — at least as it stands today — will be unable to use EITHER their first- or second-round draft picks in 2024 at the 2023 trade deadline. Per the terms of the Rodgers trade, Green Bay will receive the Jets’ 2024 first-round pick if Rodgers plays 65 percent of New York’s overall offensive snaps. If that mark isn’t met, the Packers will get the Jets’ second-rounder.

Because that 65 percent mark cannot be calculated until the end of the regular season, the Jets do not have the freedom to use either draft pick at the trade deadline without first coming to a new agreement with the Packers. This was confirmed to me by league sources, who said that a similar issue over conditional draft picks was a factor at the trade deadline last year for at least one proposed trade elsewhere in the NFL.

According to a source, the NFL’s stance on these conditional selections is similar to the NBA’s, where one team cannot unilaterally choose to give up the higher-valued option in an effort to close the book on a trade.

After talking to people in the know, here’s a rundown of one hypothetical that could play out at the trade deadline this year:

  1. The Jets identify a pass-catcher that Rodgers wants to go after. Let’s call him Avante Dadams. Dadams’ original team wants at least a second-round pick in exchange for the receiver’s remaining contract.
  2. The Jets go to the Packers with an offer: New York will give Green Bay their first-round pick in 2024, straight up, for the freedom to use their 2024 second-rounder in a trade for Dadams.
  3. Assuming that Rodgers has started every game for the Jets at this point, 7 of the team’s 17 games will be in the books — meaning that Rodgers should have played around 42 percent of the Jets’ projected season-long offensive snaps. At that point, which is the bigger gamble for Green Bay? Is it assuming the risk that Rodgers won’t play at least 4 more games in the remaining 10 weeks of the regular season or is it voluntarily allowing a team whose first-round draft pick that they’ll likely own get better? Based on conversations I’ve had, I would guess that Green Bay would turn down this offer.
  4. The Jets then make a counteroffer, adding another draft choice (maybe a 2024 fourth-round pick) to the mix on top of conceding their 2024 first-round pick. That is something that might interest the team enough to be able to get the Packers to agree to new terms.

The Jets’ and Packers’ relationship, brought together by Rodgers, is the gift that keeps on giving. Keep an eye out for this story popping up again around October 31st, which is when all league-wide trading will come to an end at 4 p.m. Eastern. If Rodgers’ Jets really do want to take a big swing at the trade deadline, they’re going to have to come back to the table with Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst.