New York Jets sign former Packers quarterback Tim Boyle, continue preparing for Aaron Rodgers' arrival
GREEN BAY – Before Aaron Rodgers declared his intention to play for the New York Jets three weeks ago, they were systematically clearing the way for his arrival.
The Jets offseason, underwhelming until their trade for Rodgers is complete, has been one continual progression in rolling out the red carpet. Off the field, the Jets began restructuring contracts to fit Rodgers’ cap space. They met with the four-time MVP quarterback in Los Angeles. Even Joe Namath has gone on record saying Rodgers can wear his legendary No. 12, which the organization retired almost four decades ago.
The next step in that preparation came Thursday when the Jets reportedly signed former Green Bay Packers quarterback Tim Boyle. A teammate of Rodgers for two seasons, Boyle gives the Jets a backup quarterback their expected starter is both familiar with and doesn't view as a replacement, the tag Rodgers has given Jordan Love.
Here are three moves that appear to be heavily influenced by their desire to trade for Rodgers.
Hiring Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator on Jan. 26
Rodgers hasn’t hidden his love for Hackett. For three seasons, Hackett was the Packers offensive coordinator, helping guide an offense that produced some of the quarterback’s best seasons. Rodgers won two of his MVP awards under Hackett, who brought creativity to game-week meetings, highlighted by his terming the red zone as the gold zone. Hackett was never in control of the Packers offense so long as coach Matt LaFleur called plays, but Rodgers’ appreciation for the Jets new offensive coordinator was clear.
“There’s nobody in the building that brings me more joy or is more fun to be around than Nathaniel Hackett,” Rodgers said during his renaissance 2020 season. “We have some great guys, we have some guys I’ve been playing with for a long time. I knew based on his friendship with (former quarterbacks coach) AVP, Alex Van Pelt, that we were going to be friends just because Alex is such a great dude and him and I had such a great friendship. I just knew Hack and I were going to bond. He’s become such a close confidant and friend besides a fantastic coach. I just really, really can’t express how important he is to our team in so many ways. He’s incredible in front of the room. He brings a lot of great energy that’s really important to not just meetings that can sometimes, without the energy he infuses, maybe get long at times. Never feels that way with him in front of the room.
“Hack has really embraced the idea of celebrating together and being a close-knit group. I think he’s got a great mind. Obviously, I’m a little biased because he comes from the old-school West Coast tree and feeling like I grew up in the West Coast offense, as well, with Mike Sherman and Mike McCarthy. I have a lot of affection for some of those old West Coast plays and I do have a dialogue with his father, Paul, usually about specific West Coast concepts.
“Hack has been a really important part of our culture change and a part of our success on offense. I love him. Hope he doesn’t go anywhere. Unless I do.”
Signing wide receiver Allen Lazard as a free agent on March 17
Two days after Rodgers made clear he wanted to be in a Jets uniform, the Jets signed one of his favorite receivers. Coach Robert Saleh made clear at the NFL owners meetings last week the Jets were interested in Lazard since the start of the offseason. Lazard’s receiving ability, and his proven track record as a perimeter blocker in the run game, was as important to them as his experience and leadership in a young receiver room. The four-year, $44 million contract they signed him to might have included a bit of a Rodgers tax. Like Hackett, Rodgers didn’t hide his desire to share the field with Lazard.
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“I think objectively a lot of people can look at Allen Lazard and go, ‘He’s a really good player. We would love to have him on our team,’” Rodgers said on The Pat McAfee Show. “Then anybody with a brain would maybe call me, on any team, and go, ‘Hey, what kind of locker room guy is Allen Lazard? What’s his work ethic like?’ And I’d say, ‘He’s a (expletive) great dude. Anybody would be lucky to have him in the locker room.’”
Signing backup quarterback Tim Boyle on April 6
Like the two transactions above, the Jets could draw a line separating acquisition from Rodgers. Hackett’s failed season as the Denver Broncos head coach last year doesn’t detract from his proven pedigree as an NFL offensive coordinator. Lazard is a solid NFL receiver and, yes, a good locker room presence. Boyle has a lot of history with Hackett, who he recruited as an assistant coach at Syracuse. The quarterback has also shown he can hang in the league, playing for the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears in the past two seasons.
“I love Tim,” Rodgers said in 2021 before Boyle got his first NFL start with the Lions. “I just saw the news today, was planning on reaching out after work today. Tim’s a great guy, man. He’s a great human. Happy for his opportunity, if it comes to fruition this week. … He’s just a special guy. I watched him grow and develop over the years with us, not just as a person, but as a player. He’s got a big-time arm, and he’s very athletic as well.”