Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said on The Pat McAfee Show Wednesday that he intends to play for the New York Jets this season.
Rodgers said he made that decision on Friday and is not holding any trades that are still open. The two teams and Rodgers are staying in touch, sources said, as they try to work through the final stages of a possible deal that would involve restructuring Rodgers’ contract and agreeing on trade compensation.
The Packers are ready to trade Rodgers, but there are still things to be worked out and negotiations are ongoing, a source told ESPN on Wednesday.
“I made it clear that my intention was to play and play for the New York Jets and I held nothing back. It’s the compensation the Packers are trying to get. … The Packers want to move on and have let me know that in so many words,” he said.
Rodgers, who attended a four-day darkness retreat to reflect on his future, said he was 90% sure he would retire when he went on the retreat. He said leaving the obscurity changed something about the Packers’ earlier stance that he should play his entire career in Green Bay and that he wished the team were more direct with him as the offseason began.
Rodgers said he will always love the Packers organization, but it’s clear it’s time for a change.
“I fucking love this city. I love this organization and will always love this organization. The fact is they want to move on now, and so do I now,” he said.
He said his decision to leave Green Bay was “bittersweet”.
“I was the Packers’ starting quarterback for 15 years. … So, I love you, Green Bay. Thanks. I’m just as sad as some of you, but we will meet again.”
Rodgers said other teams have expressed interest in trading for him. He didn’t mention the teams, but he did say there was “one particular player” he would reunite with. He didn’t mention the name, but he appeared to be referring to Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams, his former Packers teammate. The Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo, so they’re out of the veteran quarterback market.
“There are many reasons the Jets are attractive,” Rodgers said. “There is one coach who has meant more to me than any other coach I’ve ever had.” He was referring to recently hired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, the Packers’ coordinator from 2019 to 2021. During that time, Rodgers won his third and fourth NFL MVP
Rodgers took offense at the perception that Hackett was hired by the Jets with the primary purpose of recruiting him to the team. That, he said, would “diminish the ability he has to coach… It’s an absolute disservice to Nathaniel Hackett and what he’s accomplished in his career.”
Just a year ago, Rodgers seemed destined to end his career in Green Bay. After contemplating retirement after the 2021 season, he signed a three-year, $150 million contract extension in March 2022.
Rodgers’ contract includes a guaranteed salary and a $59.465 million bonus this season. Most of that consists of a $58.3 million bonus due no later than Week 1 of this season. The Packers would absorb $40.3 million in dead money towards their salary cap if they trade Rodgers before June 1. Because his bonus money is prorated, Rodgers would count $15.8 million toward the Jets’ salary cap in 2023 and $32.5 million in 2024, cap-friendly numbers for a player of his stature.
“I was the Packers’ starting quarterback for 15 years… So, I love you, Green Bay. Thanks. I’m just as sad as some of you, but we will meet again.”
A contingent of Jets officials, including owner Woody Johnson, general manager Joe Douglas, trainer Robert Saleh and Hackett, flew to California last week to meet with Rodgers.
Rodgers shared some details of his meeting with Jets officials last Tuesday. It was a four-hour discussion that took place at his home in Malibu, California. He joked that the Jets’ contingent left their cars parked on the street, attracting paparazzi.
Additionally, several Jets players tweeted Rodgers to recruit him, including cornerback Sauce Gardner, who vowed to burn the cheesehead he wore to celebrate New York’s win over the Packers at Lambeau Field last season. Gardner later fulfilled the promise by burning the cheesehead in a video posted to YouTube.
Rodgers, 39, has provided the Jets with a wish list of free agents he wants them to pursue and acquire, and that includes Odell Beckham Jr., sources told ESPN’s Dianna Russini. Another player on that list, Packers free agent wide receiver Allen Lazard, agreed to a four-year, $44 million deal with the Jets on Tuesday, a source confirmed to ESPN.
However, Rodgers said Wednesday that the notion that he had provided the Jets with a wish list was “ridiculous.” However, he said the Jets had asked him about players he had played with, but he had made no demands.
“My only demand is transparency,” he said.
Explaining the so-called wish list, Rodgers said, “Have they asked me about any specific guys I’ve played with over the years? Naturally. Have I spoken glowingly about teammates I love? Yes. Why shouldn’t you? “
In addition to Lazard, the Jets have expressed interest in wide receiver Randall Cobb and tight end Marcedes Lewis, both free agents. Rodgers scoffed at the perception that he insisted on certain players.
“People want these things to be so true that I’m in ceremonial regalia at this meeting and giving them some kind of handwritten (note) on parchment to ask for a list of people to sign,” he cracked.
Beckham’s asking price is probably too high for the cap-strapped Jets.
“I mean, first of all, who wouldn’t want Odell on their team?” asked Rodgers, who is friends with the well-travelled star.
Packers president Mark Murphy made it clear last week that returning Rodgers to the team wasn’t the organization’s first choice, and they hoped to find a “win-win” situation for the four-time MVP and the team.
The Jets’ Super Bowl odds have steadily improved over the past week in sports betting. On Wednesday, after Rodgers announced his intentions, the Jets won the Super Bowl 14-1 at Caesars Sportsbook. At that price, only five teams — the Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals — had better odds than the Jets, who entered the offseason 30-1 to win the Super Bowl. They started the week 17-1 at Caesars.
ESPN’s David Purdum contributed to this report.