Rodgers, Jets still working on a new contract

Mike Florio and Chris Simms break down how restructuring Aaron Rodgers’ contract could be a key indication as to how long the QB intends to play for the Jets and what that means for Zach Wilson.

Video Transcript

MIKE FLORIO: This is part of the play that the Jets are trying to do here. It is get a short-term boost via Aaron Rodgers and long-term develop a franchise quarterback in the form of Zach Wilson by getting him properly schooled in how to do what he needs to do. I really wonder how well they're going to get along when they're pressed into the same space on a regular basis. I wonder if somebody makes a snarky comment or something, something.

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CHRIS SIMMS: I don't think so.

MIKE FLORIO: Can Zach Wilson truly suppress competitive nature? And how's that going to click with Aaron Rodgers? How's Zach Wilson going to conduct himself? Is he going to keep his mouth shut?

I mean, he's in a tough spot. Jordan Love wasn't able to do what needed to be done because he had never been the starter there. Zach Wilson's been the starter. And then he's been thrown aside.

And now he's expected to sit and wait while Aaron Rodgers runs the team for as long as he wants to. Is it going to be one year? Is it going to be two years? God forbid, it's going to be three years because then the Zach Wilson era never starts.


But I think that's one of the big keys. How long is this going to last, one year or two years? That has a huge impact on Zach Wilson, especially because if it's two years, that runs through his rookie deal. And I doubt they're picking up his fifth year option after this season.

CHRIS SIMMS: I wouldn't think so. No, you're right. I wouldn't think they are either. So one-- hey, to your first part of that, I think they're going to get along just fine.

The way it works in the NFL locker room, building, whatever-- we already know who the king is. He's walking around with no shoes on the first day, so he's the king. That's going to be made apparent to everybody, even a guy like Zach Wilson.

Two, I think Zach Wilson is smart enough to realize kind of what we talked about earlier in the show. He's never really had the guy, or a guy really be able to show him and go like, no, no, this is how-- you want to be the man? This is how you work on a Wednesday or a Tuesday.


I think it's all going to be positive. This was his idol growing up is Aaron Rodgers. So I think he's going to take a back seat here and just try to digest it all and learn from Aaron Rodgers.

But-- but like we said-- you know, and it's something I've been saying, Mike. I think this is the reason they were a little bit all in on the Rodgers thing and didn't go other avenues. I think they were trying to kill the two birds with one stone, like you've heard me say where it's like, yeah, we can get Aaron Rodgers. He can win right now.

And maybe this can salvage Zach Wilson in the long term for us too because like we've talked about, Zach Wilson is the type of guy that teams don't want to see him go somewhere else. They've seen him do some things on the field and the practice field. But they go that could come back to bite us in the butt at one point if he's on another football team. And I think they'd like to make it work.

MIKE FLORIO: I'm still surprised you didn't jostle to get out. There was the report from Jay Glazer of Fox right after that Thursday night debacle against the Jaguars that they're done with Wilson. And then it started to push back the other way.


And I thought, well, Wilson's going to be a key factor in all of this. And he has never said anything to suggest he's not all in. I'm surprised he still wants to be part of it the way he's been treated. And look, it's nobody's fault. It happens. Stuff happens. But I would think that he would want a fresh start.

CHRIS SIMMS: I wouldn't have been shocked. You're right.

MIKE FLORIO: But this is the closest thing he's going to get with Aaron Rodgers there to show him the ropes. And we'll see how much Aaron Rodgers actually does it. How much is it lead by example? How much of it is, hey, Zach, come do this. Hey, Zach, come do that. I think Aaron Rodgers is more inclined to lead by example and trust the kids smart enough to watch.

CHRIS SIMMS: The kid's got to follow. The kid's got to be-- you've got to be like a puppy dog. You've got to be a puppy dog. You can't bother him.


He can be like, hey, what are you doing now? What are you doing now? You just stay in the background and follow him everywhere. That's like what I would do with Brad Johnson.

He would walk around and get lunch. And I'd be, like, 20 steps behind him. And I'd be like, OK, what's he going to do? And I'd kind of slow play it.

I'd see him walk in the quarterback room to start watching film. And I'd go, well, damn, I'm just going to follow him in there and do that. And I'll watch film with him, see what he's doing. And that's where you-- you've got to be a-- you've got to be a leach almost and just try to absorb everything you can.

MIKE FLORIO: There were some reporting over the weekend that the New York Jets and Aaron Rodgers are still working on his contract. You could either defer to those reports from unnamed sources, or you could go straight to the source from last week when Joe Douglas, the GM of the team told me on the record, on the air that they are working on the Aaron Rodgers' contract.


CHRIS SIMMS: And sources say they're working on it.

MIKE FLORIO: Have a listen. Here's the source.

JOE DOUGLAS: We knew at the end of the trade that Aaron and Green Bay needed to work some things out. We didn't know the exact ramifications. It was just important to us that the cap number wasn't going to go higher than it was at the time that we agreed to. And we didn't know that it was actually going to go down to the minimum.

So when they redid the deal, we saw the new number-- we saw that it was low for this year. We're still working on restructuring aspects of the deal as we speak. But we feel like we're in a really good place.


MIKE FLORIO: And is it accurate that all you owe him currently without any further contractual adjustment is the minimum salary for this season?

JOE DOUGLAS: Yeah, so he is part of the restructure. Prior to the trade, he went down to the minimum.

MIKE FLORIO: So basically, the $58.3 million option bonus, all of that got kicked into next year?

JOE DOUGLAS: Everything was kicked down to 2024.

MIKE FLORIO: That's part of what Rodgers did for the Packers to reduce the cap charge they'd be dealing with because what would have happened is they would have taken a cap hit for this year for the portion of the option bonus, like, 14 million or so. And then they would have gotten credit for it next year. They've avoided that. So now what you have--


CHRIS SIMMS: Which is another reason why I want to go, why did they agree to the first round conducive pick of all that there? Because Rogers and everybody, again, they had more power and leverage in this situation.

MIKE FLORIO: That's right, because Rogers could have said, you got to-- you got a deal.


CHRIS SIMMS: That's the one part I don't get. Sorry to throw you out there.

MIKE FLORIO: So what happened was Rodgers, as Joe Douglas said, is all the way down to the minimum, 1.165 million. That's all he's on the books for right now as an employee of the New York Jets.

CHRIS SIMMS: What's next year?


MIKE FLORIO: With 107.55 million next year.

CHRIS SIMMS: Put it on my tab.

MIKE FLORIO: So what they have to figure out-- and it's all guaranteed. So what they have to figure out is how much of that goes into this year, how much of that stays next year. And that's critical because if he's only going to play one year, you want the 58.3 this year or something close to it this year.

The less that moves to 2023 and stays in 2024, the more likely he's back for '24. There's also the possibility-- and I don't think I made this clear when I wrote about it. I may have mentioned it.

But I know that there's a thought that Aaron Rodgers is just going to say to his agents, cut that number down as a favor to the Jets. Just cut it down. I want less.

Give them more money. I don't need it. Give them more money to find other help for me while I'm here. So it's also possible that when the dust settles, this 1.165 plus 107.55, whatever that is, it's about 109.2, the total is going to be less over the next two years.


MIKE FLORIO: And it'll be a certain amount he makes this year and a certain amount next year if he plays next year. But that structure, however they work this out, it's going to be very telling because remember, at his introductory press conference when he was asked about one year, two year, well, I'm just focused on this year. Then he's off to the side, and he says, oh, I made a commitment. The contract is going to tell us everything. The contract is going to make it clear-- or it could make it clear that he's made the commitment for two years.

CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah. No, it's-- I'm going to be fascinated. I'm fascinated to see what happens here. This is definitely a big aspect of this trade and the future of Rodgers and everything there to go along with it.

And I mean, money-- I mean, gosh, that's a lot of money. I know. Holy crapola. He's got a ton of money. I mean, I can't even guess.

Rodgers, I'm sure, has a few million dollars, right? Somewhere in that range. Still, this is a big chunk to take off or whatever number he might take off to make it easier on the Jets.

But I will say this. Even with this contract that he's involved in right now-- this wasn't, I don't think, ever about, like, money, money. He wanted this last contract for them to have some power and protect himself with Green Bay, so they couldn't just do whatever they wanted with them. So that's where I guess I could see him lessening the number a little bit just for the Jets and to make this do the next two years.

MIKE FLORIO: I think he understands that it will get him some significant brownie points once the media figures out that he's taken less if he does take loss. Again, the agents are going to be telling him don't take less. But he may decide at the end of the day, I run the show here. And I'm willing to do the Jets a favor here and lay the foundation for next year too.

But they're working on it. We know that now because Joe Douglas said it. When it's finalized, that could be a very key point in understanding, is it a one-year or two-year thing. And the guy who's going to be paying the most attention to all of it is Zach Wilson because it's a two-year thing, that changes his life dramatically. And he may end up becoming an unrestricted free agent, and the Jets may have to sign him in competition with others to get him to stick around after two years of Aaron Rodgers.

CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah. I mean, I think that's a very real possibility. And it might be like something we talk about a lot where it's just like, yeah, maybe it comes to the end of that year four and they find a nice little two-year deal that makes sense. And they sit here and go wait, we're ready.

Rodgers is retiring. We think you've made the gross. Here it is. Who else is going to let you have this opportunity? Or you know we love you like Daniel Jones and Jordan Love.

So why go anywhere else? Why would you want to do anything? Well, you know we like you. We've kept you here through some tough times. I think that's probably what they're planning on or trying to make happen here.

MIKE FLORIO: I hope a year from now if Rodgers is staying and they're up against the fifth-year option for Zach Wilson, I hope Wilson doesn't agree to some Band-Aid like Jordan Love did. I think that's a unique situation that should not be duplicated very often because what Wilson needs to say next year is pick up the option or dunk. And if you don't, I'll be a free agent next year because what benefit does he have in getting a little extra money to be on the bench?

Just take what you're due to make. And then become a free agent. And let someone else offer you the opportunity to go in and compete to be the star. Maybe the Jets will too. Maybe the Jets will bet it off.

CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah, that's what I think. that's what I think it could happen. And I think honestly, that's probably the best way to do it. Get done with year four.

Hey, you're free. But you know, we like you. And we're probably going to pay you more money than anybody else will. And you have a chance to be the starter. That's what they're going to sell, right? And I don't think anybody's going to sell that to Zach Wilson right now or two years from now without him playing very much.