Jets in talks with Packers tight end Aaron Rodgers, sources say

Jets in talks with Packers tight end Aaron Rodgers, sources say
Jets in talks with Packers tight end Aaron Rodgers, sources say

Dan GrazianoESPN staff writer4 minute reading

Stephen A.: Rodgers would certainly make the Jets a title contender

Stephen A. Smith says he believes Aaron Rodgers would make the Jets a Super Bowl contender if the Packers quarterback is traded to New York.

The The New York Jets have held talks with the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers this week regarding a potential trade of the four-time MVP to the Jets, according to sources.

A contingent of Jets team officials, including owner Woody Johnson, general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, flew to California on Tuesday to meet with Rodgers in person, sources said. However, it is unclear whether the meeting will result in a trade.

The Jets’ contingent arrived at 12:49 pm PT at the airport in Camarillo, Calif., not far from Rodgers’ home. Rodgers was seen greeting Jets officials, according to social media posts from the airport. Johnson & Co. was expected to fly back on Tuesday evening.

When news of the California trip broke, two Jets players took to social media to recruit Rodgers to the team. Tweeting at Rodgerssaid cornerback Sauce Gardner, “I promise if you become a Jet, I won’t pick you off in practice and I will burn your cheese head” — a reference to the cheese head he wore to celebrate the Jets’ victory last season at Lambeau Field.

Running back Breece Hall also beat Rodgers, tweeting“Never mind…just manifesting @AaronRodgers12.”

Rodgers still hasn’t made any announcements about what he intends to do this coming season. It’s still possible he decides to retire or stay in Green Bay. But if he still wants to play and he and the Packers agree it’s time for him to play somewhere else, the Jets appear to be a realistic option.

If the Jets talk directly to Rodgers, they would and he would have to secure the Packers’ permission, since he is still under contract with Green Bay. So the discussions Rodgers is having with the Jets indicate at least some openness on the Packers’ part to the idea of ​​trading him there.

But there are potential complications to a deal, including Rodgers’ huge and complicated contract, that may need to be resolved to ensure both teams will be in compliance with the salary cap by the start of the league year next Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.

Rodgers is under contract until 2024 for $108.8 million. Technically, the contract, which was signed in March last year, runs until 2026, but 2025 and 2026 are considered “dummy” years for cap purposes. His deal includes a fully guaranteed $59.5 million this season, with $58.3 million coming in the form of an option bonus, paid before the start of the regular season.

Because his bonus money is prorated, Rodgers wouldn’t hobble over the Jets cap. He would count $15.8 million in 2023 and $32.5 million in 2024, cap-friendly for a player of his size.

The Packers would be hit with a $40.3 million “dead” cap hit in 2023 — nearly $9 million more than he would count if he were on the roster.

The Jets expressed interest in Derek Carr, meeting with him twice, but they viewed him as a backup option. Rodgers has always been their No. 1 priority in the quarterback market, sources said. Carr ended up agreeing to a four-year contract worth up to $150 million with the New Orleans Saints.

The Jets have been focused on Rodgers since the start of the offseason, when owner Woody Johnson told reporters he would be “absolutely” willing to make a big investment in a quarterback. Team executives have made it clear in recent weeks that Zach Wilson, drafted No. 2 overall in 2021, is not considered a primary starting option. Their hope is to develop him in a backup role.

ESPN’s Rich Cimini and Rob Demovsky contributed to this report.

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