Who Won the Aaron Rodgers Trade?

Aaron Rodgers is finally headed to New York to play for the Jets after the team agreed on a package with the Packers. But who "won" the deal?

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers gives a salute while on the field
We believe one team can already claim victory in the deal even without a game having been played
Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers is officially headed to New York to play for the Jets, after Gang Green agreed to ship a package of draft picks to the star quarterback’s former squad, the Green Bay Packers. But the question of whether or not we can all move on with our lives remains up in the air.

For months there was speculation as to where the future Hall of Famer would call home in the 2023 NFL season. Because the details have been well-reported, are lengthy and include something called a “darkness retreat,” we won’t waste time here with a recap. Instead, we’ll dive into the current debate raging over who “won” the trade, even though not a single game that counts for either team will be played for several months. With a trade of this magnitude, however, it’s crucial content, dammit.

The Aaron Rodgers Show Has Already Begun in New York Even Without a Trade
The Jets’ front office is already meeting the quarterback’s demands while he continues to drag out his final decision

Per ESPN reporter Adam Schefter, the Packers will receive pick number 13 of the first round in this year’s NFL draft, a 2023 second-round pick (No. 42) and a sixth-round pick (No. 207), as well as a a conditional 2024 second-round pick that becomes a first-rounder if Rodgers plays 65% of the plays for the Jets this coming season.

If we stop the conversation there, that seems like a lot of assets for a guy who had a pretty terrible season last year by contemporary NFL standards. He finished with an 8-9 record, failed to throw for 300 yards once and threw the most interceptions in a season since his first year as the full-time starter.

Taking into account those facts, it’s understandable why, according to The Athletic, unnamed league executives would say things like “The Jets gave up too much” and that Rodgers is a “descending player who didn’t want to be [with the Packers] and will probably retire this year if things don’t go well [so] I could see this blowing up in the Jets’ faces.”

However, football is a team sport and Rodgers probably didn’t love the Packers roster in 2022. In the Meadowlands he’ll be throwing to the likes of Mecole Hardman, Garrett Wilson and former Packer teammate Allan Lazard, who jumped to the Jets on a free agent contract likely in anticipation of a reunion with Rodgers. It was only two years ago that Rodgers won his fourth league MVP. When did he win his third? The year prior. And as Tom Brady showed us there’s not much of a difference between a 40-year-old quarterback — the age Rodgers will be as a Jet — and a 37-year-old one in this era of NFL play where quarterback hits of any kind appear to be illegal.

Considering all of this, it also makes sense that another NFL exec would tell The Athletic that the Jets are “scary” with Rodgers and this cast of characters that also includes holdovers from a strong defensive unit.

But we still haven’t gotten to the reason why we believe the Jets clearly won this trade: The Jets didn’t just get Rodgers back in the deal. Instead of picking 13th in the first round of the draft this year they’ll pick 15th, in the Packers’ spot, which is basically a wash. The Jets also picked up a Packers fifth rounder, which more than offsets their surrender of the sixth-round pick.

For a team that is in “win now” mode, ostensibly giving up a second-round pick this year and, at most, a first-rounder in 2024 for a Super Bowl-winning starting quarterback is almost nothing in the grand scheme of things. Those lost draft picks will have fairly little impact on the Jets’ ability to compete for a championship this season, and even if Rodgers retires, which one of the Negative Nancy NFL executives pointed out could happen after 2023, he will have mentored former first-round pick and friend Zach Wilson, whom the Jets still hope is an heir apparent at QB, for a full season.

And who the hell else should the Jets have gotten after Wilson showed he wasn’t ready in 2022? Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo? Even at 40 Rodgers has much more upside than either of those two, and in the NFL, with the salary cap and the short stints of productivity for most of its players, team windows to Super Bowls don’t remain open for very long. (The New England Patriots dynasty/ies under Brady and Bill Belichick were a complete outlier.)

Could this “blow up in the Jets’ faces”? Of course. Though, define “blow up.” Again, if they lose Rodgers after one year, the Jets will still be in a position to contend. And all a fan can do is hope their favorite team’s ownership puts the franchise in a position to play for a Super Bowl because winning one is so incredibly difficult.

Unquestionably, the New York Jets just did that. The cost is irrelevant.

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