Here's all you need to know about the Green Bay Packers trade of Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets

Ryan Wood
Green Bay Press-Gazette
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GREEN BAY – After 18 seasons, 15 spent forging a Hall of Fame legacy as their starting quarterback, the Green Bay Packers have closed the Aaron Rodgers era.

Rodgers is being traded to the New York Jets. The trade signals the end of three decades in which the Packers have had Hall of Fame quarterback play, from Brett Favre to Rodgers, and clears a path for Jordan Love to be the team’s starter in 2023.

There is a sense of history repeating with the trade. Rodgers follows Favre's path to the Jets, where the Hall of Famer played in 2008 before leaving a season later to join the Minnesota Vikings. The Packers hope Love can continue recycling history, ascending to the status Rodgers achieved in Favre's absence.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers celebrates with the fans after setting the franchise record for most passing touchdowns.

What do the Packers get in return for trading Aaron Rodgers?

From first glance, it appears Brian Gutekunst prospered from digging his heels in the ground. The Packers swapped picks with the Jets in this week's first round, meaning they will now draft 13th overall, and the Jets will assume the 15th pick. The Packers also got a second-round pick Friday, which will go nicely with their own 45th overall pick. Later in the draft, the Packers got a sixth-round pick (No. 207) to compensate for giving a fifth-round pick (No. 170) to the Jets. Of most significant note, the Packers received a conditional second-round pick from the Jets in 2024 that will become a first-round pick if Rodgers plays 65% of New York's snaps this fall.

What are the salary cap ramifications?

The Packers are adding $8.7 million against next season’s salary cap with the trade. Rodgers’ cap hit would have been $31.6 million if he played for the Packers in 2023, but it now increases to $40.3 million.

The prorated portion of Rodgers’ $58.3 million option bonus comes off their books, a total of $14.575 million, along with the quarterback’s $1.165 million base salary. They have $24.48 million in future prorated bonuses that accelerate to this year’s cap, accounting for the increase.

Rodgers no longer counts on the Packers’ salary cap after 2023, providing relief in future years. The trade also saves the Packers considerable cash, preventing them from paying $59.465 million in option bonus and base salary.

With a handful of contract restructures for other players on their roster this spring, the Packers cleared enough room to be $17 million under the salary cap before the trade. They can clear up to an additional $12 million by converting a large chunk of left tackle David Bakhtiari’s roster bonus and base salary into a signing bonus. If that happens, the Packers will be roughly $20 million under the cap after Rodgers’ trade is processed.

What are Aaron Rodgers' connections to his new team?

Rodgers will be rejoining a familiar offensive coordinator in Nathaniel Hackett, who worked under Matt LaFleur in the same role for three seasons. In Hackett's final two seasons as the Packers' offensive coordinator, Rodgers won his third and fourth career MVP awards. Rodgers was perhaps never greater than in 2020, when he completed a career-high 70.7% of his 526 passes for 4,299 yards, 48 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 121.5 passer rating that was the second-highest of his career. His passer rating that season was also the second-highest in NFL history, behind only Rodgers' record 122.5 from 2011, his first MVP season.

Beyond Hackett, the Jets should know exactly what Rodgers brings to the field and locker room. Coach Robert Saleh is LaFleur's longtime best friend, known for getting the Packers head coach his first NFL coaching gig as an offensive assistant with the Houston Texans in 2008. Saleh and LaFleur go back to their days as graduate assistants on Central Michigan's coaching staff in 2004 and undoubtedly have discussed the reality of coaching Rodgers in recent years.

For the Jets, the trade not only is designed for this season, but in the long term it allows Rodgers to mentor former No. 2 overall draft pick Zach Wilson, who fell out of favor with the organization last fall.

How did Aaron Rodgers perform last season?

As Rodgers stumbled to his worst season as a starter last season, this offseason appeared to be the correct time for the franchise to move on.

Rodgers’ 91.1 passer rating last fall was the lowest of his career as a starter, even lower than 2008. His 26 passing touchdowns were second fewest of his career, one more than 2018, the year Mike McCarthy was fired. He threw 12 interceptions, the first time he’s had double digits in a season since 2010. He didn’t have a single 300-yard passing game for the first time in his career. It was also the first season he hasn’t thrown at least three touchdowns in a game more than once, the lone time coming against Dallas.

By any stretch, Rodgers was became something in his age-39 season he’d never been before, an average quarterback. The Jets will be hoping to revive the MVP form Rodgers showed in 2020 and 2021, though his injury history and advancing age could make that difficult. Rodgers battled through three separate injuries last season, most notably a broken thumb on his throwing hand. Any chance at rebounding this fall will hinge on whether Rodgers can stay healthy at age 40.

After Jordan Love, how does the Packers quarterback situation stand?

Since the moment the Packers traded up in the 2020 first round to draft Jordan Love, he has been Rodgers’ heir apparent. Now he is in line to officially be the future Hall of Famer’s heir.

The Packers surely will be interested in drafting a quarterback this spring to spark competition. They used a second-round pick to draft quarterback Brian Brohm in 2008, the spring before Rodgers became a starter. Love will be the heavy frontrunner over Danny Etling to replace Rodgers. He has waited three seasons for his opportunity, the same time Rodgers waited behind Favre, and showed growth in his third year.

Sources familiar with the franchise’s thinking said the Packers’ confidence in Love has grown significantly in the past year, something general manager Brian Gutekunst indicated at the NFL scouting combine.

“He definitely needs to play,” Gutekunst said. “I think that’s the next step in his progression. I think he’s ready for that. Not every quarterback comes into this league ready to go out and play, and I think he needed a little time. But over the last year and a half, I think you’ve seen that’s the next step in his progression. He needs to go and play.”

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