Jets acquire HOF QB Aaron Rodgers from the Packers

Monday evening, it was announced that the Green Bay Packers agreed to deal quarterback Aaron Rodgers and their 2023 first-round pick (No. 15) and a 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 170) to the Jets for New York’s 2023 first-round pick (No. 13), a 2023 second-round pick (No. 42), a 2023 sixth-round pick (No. 207) and a conditional 2024 second-round pick that becomes a first if Rodgers plays 65% of the plays this season.

This is a convoluted deal that doesn’t end until 2024 with a lot to unravel. In short, the Packers get a 2023 2nd-round pick, while swapping their 5th for the Jets 6th, etc. There was lots of haggling over the past months, but what we see in the final deal is that not much moved. The Jets were offering a 2nd-round pick and likely a 4th-round pick, while the Packers needed to get more. They only way that was going to happen was by getting conditional picks based on Aaron Rodgers’ performance with the Jets. The excessive haggling in the exchange of picks is a way of making the return for Aaron Rodgers look bigger than it really is from a Packers’ standpoint.

The conditional 2024 pick depends on Aaron Rodgers staying healthy & playing all season, and it’s the best the Packers could do with the mess they created for themselves. In essence, the Packers have to give the Jets their blessing in this deal, in the hopes of maximizing their return in the form of a 1st round pick in 2024. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers & the Jets will be trying to win a Super Bowl. Give Aaron Rodgers credit for protecting himself after the Packers moved up to draft Jordan Love in 2020. He played a tough situation beautifully.

There seems to be very little appreciation for what Aaron Rodgers did for the Packers among the Lambeau faithful. Players are never perfect, even though this is what fans often expect. Serious fans embrace their stars (warts & all) because they are rare and in the end it’s about winning. For whiners & complainers, that’s never enough. So to them, welcome to 5-12 for awhile, give or take a win or two.

The Packers ominously lost to the Vikings to start 2022. A dropped opening 75-yd TD pass loomed over their season. They responded by winning three straight before hitting the skids losing 7 of 8 games. At that point, Aaron Rodgers was the only one who still believed the 4-8 Packers could make the playoffs and stated it to the press. The Packers responded by winning 4 straight to put themselves in position to make the playoffs with a home win over the Lions in Week 18. Every Packers fan saw that result and felt the disappointment of all hope draining away. Every Packers fan felt that if they could’ve beaten the Lions then they could’ve made a run in the playoffs— woulda, coulda, shoulda.

But realize it was #12 that gave everyone that hope. He couldn’t deliver, largely because the Packers didn’t have #17, etc. The lying part about Packers management is their not admitting to Aaron Rodgers (and the public generally) that their plan has been Jordan Love in 2023 ever since they traded-up to draft him in 2020. Aaron Rodgers was the first to understand this.

Lying & deceptive management really cost the Packers here. Since their ‘secret’ plan was to go with Jordan Love all along, they should have kept Davante Adams and let Aaron Rodgers go (or traded him) last off-season. Davante Adams would have likely stayed for a quick rebuild, and everyone in the organization would be on the same page. Instead, Packers’ management wasted 2 MVP seasons from a HOF QB by planning for the future instead of trying to win it all when they had a chance. Special teams was particularly an Achilles heel.

The fact is the Packers never had a great player to galvanize their defense after Charles Woodson departed. Brett Favre had Reggie White. The Packers missed an opportunity to get J.J. Watt when he left the Texans a few years back. That’s the kind of difference-making player the Packers needed to get past the 49ers/Rams/Bucs. Just when a bold move was required for winning, Packers management was positioning itself for the upcoming rebuild.

Beyond this, Packers special teams were atrocious in Rodgers’ final years. Blocked punts & kicks, fumbled returns, allowing big returns, missed extra points, penalties, etc. That final playoff loss at Lambeau to the 49ers, which turned on a blocked punt, was emblematic & inevitable. It defies reason & credibility to blame this mismanagement on the QB, but it’s the easiest thing to do. Where’s the organizational accountability?

Many NFL fans are front-runners by nature. Do hardcore Packers fans realize how many ambivalent NFL fans just signed up with the Jets and how many they just lost? That’s a sad day for any organization. It hurts in all respects. The Packers entire future is now hinged on Jordan Love and there are unrealistic expectations which isn’t fair, inviting failure. If this kid isn’t the next Patrick Mahomes or Jalen Hurts, he’s a disappointment. This is all on management, not Aaron Rodgers.

Sat 29 Apr 2023 3:30 PM CDT

Packers fans are numb right now, so this draft is like, “Yeah, whatever.” The Packers, who have been in existence for over a hundred years and have more wins than any other NFL franchise, just traded way their most valuable player ever. Why? Because management never established a real relationship with Aaron Rodgers. Stars come with their baggage, which must be MANAGED, as no human is perfect. When it was time for Tom Brady to leave the Patriots, he did so quietly & gracefully with the blessing of the entire organization and their fan base. That’s because Bill Belichick had a relationship with him. None of that happened with Packers management & Aaron Rodgers.

My analysis of the situation is that Aaron Rodgers wanted to finish his career in GB, but Packers management had other plans. I understand most Packers fans disagree with that assessment, but I stand by it. I say that most Packers fans are too emotional to get this, because football is such an emotional game. But it’s also a business, which means there will always be people in ownership & management who want to run things their way, no matter the cost. That problem doesn’t go away until it’s handled.

Another disappointment in this trade is that Packers fans were looking for closure, and they haven’t got it. The conditional draft pick in 2024 ties the Packers to Aaron Rodgers for at least two-thirds of next season. It was bad enough they had to deal him, but they needed to finish it cleanly. Two 2nd-round picks in 2023 were the best they were going to get from the Jets, and that’s what they should have settled on, so they could move on. Instead, Packers management mucked it up again, and no one in Packerland is happy with this deal. I understand that everyone gets to keep their job until the season starts, but when the product on Lambeau Field pales to what it has been for the past 30 years, Packers fans are going to demand accountability in the front office. I’m merely articulating what most Packers fans are thinking and afraid to say.

Obviously the 2023 season is all about quarterback development for the Packers. It starts with preventing Jordan Love from getting too injured, too quickly. Concussions need to be a red flag. DON’T be like the Dolphins with Tua Tagovailoa. Jordan Love’s situation will probably be similar to Justin Fields with the Bears the past few years where he’s been running for his life most of the time.

All this begs the question, “Who’s the Packers backup QB?” Smart game-planning combined with an adequate backup option, can prevent a team from wrecking its young quarterback. From what I’ve seen from current Packers management, I’m skeptical they can do this.

Who is the Packers backup QB in case Jordan Love gets hurt? I can see the headlines now: “Love Hurts”. A washed-up starter would’ve been ideal for the Packers in 2023, but unfortunately they’ve all been signed. Unless they get creative with a trade or pull off some magical late free-agent signing, the Packers are going low cost on this which is risky.

As a final point. It’s ridiculous that only one team was in on Aaron Rodgers. What the hell are the Vikings, Colts, Commanders, etc, doing? This collective stupidity made the Packers situation much worse. Some people call it “collusion” but since these owners & executives all talk to each other regularly and it’s reported, it’s considered to be out in the open, so it’s more accurately understood as typical ownership/management stupidity.

There are always a minority number of franchises that are hapless and don’t know how to seriously compete. This is true in all sports, but most profoundly in the NFL. Too much owner/management stupidity is what allowed Aaron Rodgers to go to the Jets on their terms. It was Packers management (& their fans) who got squeezed. Packers management having no meaningful relationship with their franchise superstar made this drawn out divorce all the more messy & painful, with a bitter aftertaste that lingers.

Post Script: Sunday April 30, 11:30 AM CDT

In the NFL at any given time there are only a handful of franchises who know what they are doing. The Patriots, Chiefs, 49ers, Rams, Bucs & Eagles are among today’s teams. The Bills, Bengals, Jets & Giants are legitimately trying to get there. The rest include the (relatively few) up & comers (Lions), the perennial flakes (Vikings, Cowboys, etc), and the hapless (Bears, Jags, etc) to some degree or another. With Aaron Rodgers at the end the Packers were always somewhere in between, below this top tier while above the second. The NFC North has been by far the weakest division in the past 20 years, meaning with a healthy HOF QB the Packers easily dominated most seasons. Now they will be hapless. The Packers desperately need the right veteran backup so Jordan Love survives 2023. If Packers management is serious about what they are doing, then impress us skeptics by addressing this.

Aaron Rodgers has been remarkably durable over his career, only getting hurt enough not to play, twice. There’s only one Brett Favre. In 2013 the Packers were 5-2 when Aaron Rodgers went down against the Bears. They finished 8-7-1 and lost to the 49ers in the Wild Card. The Pack were 4-1, when #12 broke his clavicle against the Vikings in 2017. That season they finished 7-9 with a cast of nobodies at QB, when there was a free agent available who could have helped, but Packers management (like all the rest), blackballed Colin Kaepernick. That blacklisting was collusion. Following media reports from ESPN which stated Colin Kaepernick’s settlement was in the range of $60-80M, the former 49ers QB and teammate DB Eric Reid received less than $10M total from the NFL settlement, as reported by the WSJ in 2019.

The final take home lesson here is that you can’t naively believe the NFL’s reporting or the narratives promoted by any of their teams, from ESPN down to the local news, because it’s almost all fake. There are analytics sites with stats (old school & advanced) to help you figure things out if you need that help. Whatever metrics you use, it’s inferences & conclusions should match reality. Packers reporting on Aaron Rodgers has been filled with misdirections, deflections, petty criticisms & throwing their star QB under the bus. If you buy this, then you’ve been duped. Please seek help.