A Packers quarterback is 39 years old, so it’s time for the Jets to come a-calling.
Should Aaron Rodgers play in 2023, it’s seeming inevitable that it won’t be for the Packers. The reported frontrunners are the Jets, who seem confident they’ll be able to secure the 2020 and 2021 MVP.
The big question is: How does a player like Rodgers get valued? He signed a three-year, $150.8 million contract last year, he’s pushing 40 years old, and there will be a constant threat of retirement on whatever team he is on, immediately resetting that team’s QB situation.
With that being said, his ceiling is a top-tier quarterback and he’s a year removed from back-to-back MVP seasons. So while the baggage is heavy, he’s transporting it in a vehicle that can handle it for the right price.
When looking at Rodgers' trade value, here is what the considerations are.
Aaron Rodgers' talent
Rodgers' talent isn’t in question. Despite a bad year last season, he would be joining a Jets team that had Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson, Rookie of the Year candidate before injury Breece Hall, and Elijah Moore.
The Jets have more offensive talent than the Packers had last year, and despite Rodgers' struggles, they were fed into a team that struggled as a whole. Rodgers completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,695 yards and 26 touchdowns. His interceptions were uncharacteristically high, with his 12 picks being the highest since 2008.
Rodgers, however, would make a QB-needy team better. It’s that simple. Perhaps his time in Green Bay has simply run its course. But quarterbacks of his caliber don’t become available often.
Aaron Rodgers' age
At 39, Rodgers is pushing the age where teams feel “comfortable” with quarterbacks.
Rodgers isn’t going to fall off of a cliff at 40. But the reality is while everything doesn’t shut down, different parts of players' games start to go at different times.
Rodgers has always had a degree of mobility, and he’s excellent at moving the pocket. If that part of his game starts to fade, it will affect the way he has to play. Ergo, teams don’t know if they’re trading for Rodgers or a version of Rodgers that is going to see some deterioration in his game.
The quarterback will continue to read defenses and make incredible throws. But the Jets won’t want to be in a position where he can’t adapt his game to something in front of him. Drew Brees played just past 40, Brett Favre played until 41, Peyton Manning was 39. Only Tom Brady has successfully defied time into his mid-40s. And that’s not even accounting for…
Aaron Rodgers' thoughts on retirement
If Aaron Rodgers wants to retire, that is absolutely, 100 percent his business. But don’t think it won’t be weighing on any team that wants to trade for him.
Rodgers is about to start a three-year extension, which means any trade compensation has to factor for a.) that length of time and b.) the money on his contract. The reality is, the Packers don’t have a ton of leverage on Rodgers' deal. If the NFL legend ponders retirement every offseason, it’s a circus that the team trading for him is inheriting.
With that in mind, it does hurt any potential compensation. No matter how good Rodgers is, if the team trading for him is only getting him for a year or maybe two, it’s going to affect the return.
Rodgers has made it abundantly clear he doesn’t want to play until his body breaks down. So the questions about him hanging up the cleats won’t cease after a potential trade.
Aaron Rodgers' contract
In addition to the retirement talks, Rodgers also has a hefty contract.
The breakdown is, in a word, difficult.
Nothing hurts Rodgers' trade value more than the contract, as it’s a ton to take on for a potential flight risk.
Aaron Rodgers trade rumors
There are conflicting rumors about the potential return in a Rodgers trade.
According to Mike Garafolo, the Packers aren’t looking for an “offer we can’t refuse,” but rather “as fair of compensation as we can to just move on and turn this thing over to Jordan Love.”
Juicy nugget from @MikeGarafolo who said the #Packers aren’t asking for ‘an offer they can’t refuse’ from the #Jets for QB Aaron Rodgers, ‘let’s get as fair of compensation as we can to just move on & turn this thing over to Jordan Love’ 👀 🎥 @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/8Mv47C2PeH— Paul Andrew Esden Jr (@BoyGreen25) March 8, 2023
If the suitor is the Jets, No. 13 would be an offer the Packers can’t refuse. Which means a Day 1 pick is highly unlikely. Per Mike Lombardi on the Pat McAfee Show, the Packers are a bit more ambitious than Garafolo is alluding to.
According to Lombardi, “the Packers are looking for a first round pick and then possibly another pick if Aaron Rodgers plays again next season.”
It is a given the Packers are “looking” for that, but knowing everything we know, that’s unlikely.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer projected a second rounder and conditional pick in 2025 gets it done, to not handicap the team trading for Rodgers is he doesn’t play in 2024.
Aaron Rodgers trade projection
While it’s all guesswork right now, given all of the reporting around Rodgers and the willingness of the Packers to move off him, it isn’t crazy to think a second-round pick and a 2024 conditional pick get it done.
The Jets want a new quarterback, but with the knowledge of the contract they’d be taking on, the age and temperament of the player, and the almost desperate willingness to make him available from the Packers, even a second-rounder might be hard to part with. There’s a non-zero chance Rodgers goes for as low as a third, but a second is more likely for a player of his caliber.
Rodgers immediately heightens the ceiling for the Jets, and he would be a boon for any team trading for him. This value doesn’t mean he’s diminishing as a player. It’s just that trades aren’t as simple as talent alone.
The Packers seemingly have to move off of Rodgers this offseason, and that means Jordan Love will get the keys to the castle. We’ll see what the Packers do to build around him and try to get back into contention. The Jets, meanwhile, are hoping Rodgers answers a quarterback problem that has perennially plagued the team if the deal does end up going through.