Aaron Rodgers has been traded from the Green Bay Packers to New York Jets

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY – The Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay is over. A new era for the four-time MVP has begun in New York.

After months of uncertainty as to whether Rodgers would play this season and for whom if he did, Rodgers is a New York Jet.

It happened Monday when the Packers agreed to deal Rodgers to the Jets for what is essentially two second-round picks, the second of which could become a first in ’24.

According to ESPN, the deal looks like this:

The Packers receive: pick No. 13, a second-round pick (No. 42) and a sixth-round pick (No. 207) in this year's draft, plus a conditional 2024 second-round pick that becomes a first if Rodgers plays 65 percent of the plays this season.

The Jets receive: Aaron Rodgers, pick No. 15 and a 5th-round pick (No. 170) this year.

A personnel executive for a rival NFC team said the deal came out almost exactly as he thought it would.

"My guess was a two this year and a two next year that could move to a one," the executive said. "It's probably a fair trade for both sides."

An agent with several high-profile NFL clients wondered if the Jets giving up a pick next year would come back to haunt them if Rodgers only plays one season.

"Just a big risk for a possible one-year rental," he said. "So, from Green Bay's standpoint, they thought he could retire and got a couple twos with one of them a possible one. The more I think about it, Green Bay won the trade."

Another personnel executive said he thought the Packers came out on top.

"Pretty good deal for the Packers, in my opinion," he said. "Got a lot for a they didn't want and owed $60 million to."

The Packers are not only dealing their future Hall of Fame quarterback, but they are also ridding themselves of a contract that calls for Rodgers to receive a guaranteed $59.5 million in ’23.

As a result of the deal, the Packers will have 11 picks heading into the draft. They now have one pick in the first round, two in the second, one in the third, one in the fourth, one in the fifth, one in the sixth and four in the seventh.

The Packers and Jets haggled over the trade compensation for six weeks, waiting until just three days before the draft began. Getting the trade done before the draft means Rodgers can take part in off-season workouts with the Jets immediately and the Packers won’t have to wait until 2024 to receive picks for Rodgers.

The Packers gave the Jets permission to speak with Rodgers prior to the start of free agency, after informing him they planned on moving forward with 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love as their starting quarterback. On March 7, a traveling party that included Jets owner Woody Johnson, head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, met Rodgers near his Malibu, Calif., home to sell him on joining the Jets.

Rodgers announced on March 15 that he would accept a trade to play for Saleh, a close friend of coach Matt LaFleur, and Hackett, his offensive coordinator in Green Bay from 2019-’21.

Since that time, the Jets have been preparing for Rodgers’ arrival, signing former Packers receiver Allen Lazard and speedy Kansas City wideout Mercole Hardman to free agent contracts, and adding former Rodgers backup quarterback Tim Boyle.

The trade will result in Rodgers counting $40 million against the Packers’ salary cap despite him not being on the roster. He would have counted $31 million against the cap had he continued playing for the Packers, but the number went up as soon as the deal was completed because all future cap charges on the books get pushed into the present when a trade is made.

Rodgers had money from his previous two contracts that had been pro-rated over the length of his contract for cap purposes. At the time, it allowed the Packers to keep his cap number down, but the club knew that when he left, there was a chance they would endure a massive cap hit.

The Packers were $22 million under the cap at the time of the trade, but that figure will drop to $12 million once the trade goes through. It will be even less when the Packers sign all their draft picks and undrafted free agents.

They already have created more than $40 million by reworking the deals of running back Aaron Jones, outside linebacker Preston Smith, nose tackle Kenny Clark, cornerback Jaire Alexander left tackle David Bakhtiari, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and cornerback Rasul Douglas.

More:Aaron Rodgers and Packers have 'longest Midwest goodbye' as he's finally been traded to Jets

The Packers are following a familiar game plan for transitioning from a Hall of Famer to a young, first-round quarterback.

Three years after Rodgers was drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft, the Packers made their plans to succeed the retired Brett Favre with the guy they had been grooming for the job. When Favre decided he didn’t want to retire, the Packers stood with their decision to move on to Rodgers and traded Favre to the Jets.

Now, it’s Rodgers’ turn to leave the smallest market in the NFL for its biggest.

The Packers, according to multiple sources, were ready to move on from Rodgers as early as the end of last season when they felt they underachieved offensively. Rodgers failed to throw for a 300-yard game all season and couldn’t will the team into the playoffs despite needing only a victory at home against Detroit in Week 18.

The Packers had gone all in on 2022, setting a new NFL mark by guaranteeing all $150 million of Rodgers’ three-year contract extension, betting on him returning to the form that had earned him MVP honors in ’20 and ’21.

But the Packers finished 8-9 and general manager Brian Gutekunst saw enough improvement from Love in practice and a relief appearance against the Philadelphia Eagles to think he was ready to replace Rodgers.

Transitioning to Love may not go smoothly.

The Packers were 6-10 when Rodgers took over in ’08. However, they made the post-season the following year and won the Super Bowl in ’10.

Love is entering his fourth season and the Packers now have every reason to exercise his fifth-year option before the May deadline. It will guarantee Love $20.2 million guaranteed in ’24, but this season he will play for the $2,298,652 base salary in his rookie contract.

Though Love has three years under his belt, he has only started one game, played 157 snaps and thrown 83 passes. The Packers aren’t expecting him to win an MVP in his first year as a starter and know there may be growing pains.

 “I think the one thing you see in this league, it's very rarely are guys shot out of a cannon winning-wise,” Gutekunst said during the week of the combine.  “There’s some great play, there's instances you see flashes, but I think it takes most of these quarterbacks a little time to learn how to win.

“And it's one thing to play well and make throws and, make plays, but then it's another thing to lead your team to wins. And I think that takes time, but you don't get a lot of that in this league. But certainly with any new quarterback that's playing for the first time you're gonna need some of that.”

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