What needs to happen for Jets to officially land Aaron Rodgers in trade with Packers

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates after rushing for a first down during the fourth quarter of their game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates after rushing for a first down during the fourth quarter of their game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay / Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Packers, clearly, are digging in.

They’ve been discussing an Aaron Rodgers trade with the Jets. Those discussions led to a framework and understanding of what it would take to get it done. It wasn’t signed, sealed or delivered, but the gap between what the Packers wanted, and what the Jets were willing to give up, was close enough where both sides shared in their belief that, once Rodgers said he wanted to play for the Jets, they’d complete a trade in short order.

Well, Rodgers made it clear on Wednesday’s Pat McAfee Show that his “intention” is to play for the Jets. Now, it’s time to complete the deal.

But instead of pushing this through the finish line, there’s suddenly a stall.

Rodgers was about as open and honest during his hour-long chat with McAfee as you could have expected him to be. These were his first extensive remarks about his career. He was meticulous and calculated with what he said.

He stressed his love for members of the Packers, their fans and the city of Green Bay. He doesn’t carry any ill will. If he did have one gripe over the years, though, it was how the team chose to separate with their aging players. Now, he seems to be experiencing it.

“They want to move on,” Rodgers said. “And, now, so do I.”

It’s clear Rodgers will be leading the Jets in 2023. All that’s holding it up is the completion of this trade. Instead of bridging the small gap between what the Jets are willing to offer and what the Packers led the Jets to believe they wanted, though, Green Bay’s brass is digging in, seemingly taking advantage of the current quarterbacking landscape.

Rodgers has been atop the Jets quarterback wish list for a minute or two. After the season, the Jets played through hypothetical situations where they imagined what would have happened in the games they lost if they had this quarterback or that quarterback instead. Rodgers was a player, they believed had he been with them in 2022, would have had them competing for a Super Bowl.

But it was never a guarantee things would materialize with Rodgers. He easily could have chosen to return to the Packers, play for the Raiders, or retire. So, the Jets had contingency plans in place. They could sign Derek Carr, or inquire about trading for Matt Stafford (Rams), Ryan Tannehill (Titans) or Lamar Jackson (Ravens).

The idea of Rodgers was a legitimate possibility and likelihood was confirmed when the Jets got permission to talk to the quarterback in early March. They first spoke on the phone, then flew to California to meet in person. Those conversations solidified him as the best option for New York in 2023.

Rodgers agreed. That’s why he wants to play for New York, and wants to play for New York now.

Things, though, have taken a turn. The Packers realize that, with Carr in New Orleans, Rodgers is the only real option for the Jets. After the Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo, the Jets are the only real option for Rodgers. So while Rodgers has let all parties know he wants to play for the Jets, the give-and-take to bridge a gap that was believed to be seamless has instead turned into the Packers refusing to budge.

So, there’s a standoff.

“It’s time to do the right thing,” Rodgers said.

The Packers are completely within their power to drag this out as long as they want to ensure they get all the compensation they desire. It’s the harsh world of negotiating. They have their replacement already in Jordan Love. There’s nothing financially forcing them to make a move now. So, they can keep the Jets and Rodgers in a holding pattern into next week … next month … through the draft. Basically, until Joe Douglas caves and gives them exactly what they want.

But just because it’s within their power doesn’t make it any less bush league. Rodgers made it clear that the Packers, not him, were the ones who initiated this divorce. First when they drafted Love in 2020, then, during his February darkness retreat, when Rodgers entered the light only to find out Green Bay was “shopping” him.

All talks between all parties have been professional and by the books to this point. The Packers have made their decision that they want to move on, but now that it’s time to actually move on, they’re holding both the Jets and Rodgers hostage.

Again: That’s completely within their power to do so. But is that really the way you want to send out a player who has given you 18 years of service (15 as a starter)? Developed into one of the best players to ever wear the green and yellow? Is the reason there’s another Lombardi Trophy on the shelf?

The Packers aren’t getting pennies on the dollar for Rodgers. A higher draft pick this year, a compensatory one next, a player and likely a little more are all on the table and fair for Rodgers. He is still one of the best in the game, but he’s also 39 and on a year-to-year career plan. Can the Packers hold firm until they get more? Sure. Conversations, framework and understandings are great, but nothing is binding until it’s printed and signed.

But is that really the route worth traveling?

Rodgers will be the Jets quarterback next year. Nothing is going to stop that, this is all just delaying the inevitable.

Do the Packers really want the final memories of their relationship with Rodgers to be them hunkering down and refusing to accept a solid return for an aging player they clearly do not want anymore?

It’s time for the Packers to do right by the player and get this done now.