All eyes have been on Aaron Rodgers as the Jets, Packers and the entire NFL world seemingly await his decision on the 2023 season. Will he come back? Will he retire? Will he return to the Packers, even though they’ve made it clear they don’t want him anymore?
There are still no answers.
But there is growing evidence that Rodgers has decided he wants to play with the Jets in 2023. And that the hang-up is between the two teams trying to hammer out a complicated trade.
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Last week, Packers president Mark Murphy gave several interviews to local media in Green Bay at a high school basketball tournament. He had two key talking points: The Packers are ready to move on without Rodgers, and they’re looking to walk away from this deal with both Rodgers and his soon-to-be former team happy.
“It’s a situation where we wanted to help Aaron achieve what he wanted, as well as the Packers,” Murphy said last week. “Hopefully it will create a situation where it’s a win for both sides.”
Murphy repeated the second point several times, casually adding that Rodgers could retire or go back to a team that didn’t want him on the road.
And in retrospect, it all felt designed to put pressure on the Jets, who have not publicly acknowledged the pursuit of Rodgers other than owner Woody Johnson telling the Los Angeles paparazzi “we’ll see” during their visit with the quarterback last week.
By making it clear that the Packers are ready to move on from Rodgers, it raises expectations from the public (and especially Jets fans, who are desperate for good news after being deprived of it for so long) that a deal is going to happen get done. That gives the Packers leverage in a situation where they don’t have much: The Jets are the only team pursuing Rodgers, who happens to be a great quarterback but is 39 and may well play just one more season. There is no history of any player like it returning huge compensation in a trade. And Jets GM Joe Douglas is known to refuse to overpay on the trade market.
So could the Jets and Packers be in a conflict over compensation for Rodgers? It certainly seems like it could be possible
Pro Football Talk reported Tuesday night that the “Packers are willing to wait until the draft to trade Rodgers, if that’s what it takes to get what they want.”
And that wasn’t the only evidence that the breakup is between the two teams, not with Rodgers.
Trey Wingo, the longtime TV personality who first reported trade talks between the Jets, Rodgers and the Packers. And he reported earlier this week that Rodgers to the Jets was a “done” deal. Wingo stood by it on Tuesday evening in an interview with The 33rd team. But he also admitted there are a lot of moving parts.
“The [report] I put it out that it’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of when,” Wingo said. “And when I say it could go into next week, you have to be prepared for that, because it could go into next week.
“All I can tell you is this deal has been in place for a long time. And the wait is not really Aaron. It’s not Aaron. [He’s] ready to roll.”
So are the Packers making a last ditch effort to get more out of the Jets? Will Douglas blink? Or was this about Rodgers’ insecurities all along? We should start getting some answers on Wednesday, with Rodgers scheduled to speak on The Pat McAfee Show and the new league year set to begin.
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Andy Vasquez can be reached at [email protected].