Here’s hoping everyone had a good weekend. As a Knicks and Rangers fan, this weekend has been pretty epic.
I also became increasingly annoyed with the word “leverage”. Until Aaron Rodgers arrives in New York, which could happen at some point this week, we’re going to continue to hear people debate who has the leverage in this deal.
We’re going to take a quick look at why I believe the Jets have 75% of the leverage, and that’s me being generous to the Packers who have largely backed themselves into a corner with their comments on moving on.
🚨 The Jets continue to be in on Odell Beckham Jr along with the Chiefs, Bills, Patriots, and Ravens. The Cowboys seemed to rule themselves out by trading for Brandin Cooks at the weekend. OBJ has indicated that he received an offer of $4 million which he felt was not good enough, which I’d agree with. He also seemed to dispute a report that he was looking for $20 million. In the end, I think he’ll end up getting between $9-$11 million per year on a two-year deal.
🏈 The Jets brought back former punter Thomas Morestead over the weekend. Morestead. was with the jets for 7 games in 2021 following a Braden Mann injury and out-punted the former Texas A&M man. The Jets decided to cut Morestead when Mann returned based purely on potential and age, but Mann has continued his inconsistency and now has competition for his place, something the Jets should have brought in last off-season. There are a few rumblings that the Jets are open to trading Mann, but I’m not sure JD will get any bites.
🦅 Former Eagles’ safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and the Detroit Lions reached an agreement on a one-year deal worth up to $8 million yesterday. According to Jeff Lane who covers the Eagles, Gardner-Johnson turned down a multi-year extension offer by the Eagles earlier in the off-season after misjudging the market. It’s unclear if the Jets touched base with him, but that’s a nice deal for the Lions.
💪 The Jets remain firmly interested in bringing in Ben Jones who was released by the Titans earlier this off-season. The Jets currently have a hole at starting center and there are two names likely to fill that in free agency, Ben Jones or former starter Connor McGovern who is still a free agent. Jones has a history with both Todd Downing and Keith Carter, which seems to put the Jets in a good position here.
🎯 The Jets are also intending to improve the defensive line through free agency according to those I’ve spoken with over the weekend, and that’s hardly surprising considering the depth issues we have there. We did re-sign Solomon Thomas and we offered Fletcher Cox a very competitive offer, so don’t be surprised if we see a defensive line signing or two this week. There are still plenty of options out there including Shelby Harris, Poona Ford, Quinton Jefferson, and A'Shawn Robinson.
Joe Banner who was an NFL executive for the Eagles for 17 years perhaps put it best when he was asked about the leverage situation in the Aaron Rodgers deal:
“The Packers, by waiting, risk that, for some reason, the Jets would not be interested, and then they have no one [to trade with], which really ruins their team for two, probably three years. Believing the Jets will do something that will reflect impatience is not leverage. That's just hoping they're stupid. Leverage is putting the Packers in a position where they could lose the only interested team, which creates a complete disaster for them.”
Now compare that with what someone like Stephen A. Smith who suggested on ESPN that not only should the Packers be asking for multiple first-round picks, but the Jets shouldn’t hesitate in sending them:
“Let me be very, very clear. If you had to give up two first-round picks to get Aaron Rodgers, I think you should do it if you’re the New York Jets. I will remind everybody, this is not just about the greatness of Aaron Rodgers, Okay? Alright. It’s not just about that. It’s about the perpetual futility of the New York Jets. They haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1968. They haven’t been to a Super Bowl since 1968.”
There are hundreds of opinions like the ones above, some crazier than others. But I chose these two as I think it perfectly represents the situation. Talking heads and sports pundits are the ones banging the drum for the Jets to pay for historical performance and send multiple picks.
The Jets aren't paying for everything that Aaron Rodgers has achieved over his illustrious career. They are paying for what he will potentially bring to the Jets, and one caveat here is that nobody knows how long he'll continue to play. There is a very real scenario where the Jets are looking for a QB again in 12 months.
NFL executives however are actually looking at the situation as it stands.
Whether we like it or not, there really isn’t a deadline around the corner where this needs to happen. The first pressure point for this deal is really a deadline for the Packers. April 27th is the first day of the draft, and any logical general manager would want to have the deal done by that point to use any picks gained to improve the current roster around new starter Jordan Love.
If the deal isn’t completed before that date then we can all go on a holiday for a month because it’s not getting done before June 1st.
The Packers are on the hook for $40.3 million with Rodgers regardless of when they trade him. However, if they trade him before June 1st then they have to carry that $40.3 million on the 2023 cap. If they trade him after June 1st they get to split that cap between two years, carrying $15.8 million this year and $24.5 million next year, which creates significant cap this year.
There are two schools of thought here. Is it better to just take the hit now and then be clear of it next year where you can attack free agency? Or is it better to try and get immediate help now? With the top tier of free agents mostly signed, it would make sense to me to carry the big cap hit this year and start fresh next year.
The truth of the matter is that it’s in both teams’ interests to get this done sooner rather than later, and I think it does get done within the next week or two.
The Packers can say they’re keeping Rodgers, but they’ve already basically said goodbye and Rodgers has already publicly stated he wants to play for the Jets. There is no going back for the Packers now. In a similar vein, I don’t think there’s any going back for the Jets either, they’re too far down this road.
I think we’ll see a deal that looks something like this:
2023 3rd round pick
2024 conditional 4th-round pick that can rise to a first-round pick with a Super Bowl win.
2025 conditional pick that only gets activated if Rodgers plays for the Jets in 2024, maybe a 4th round pick.
If the Packers want guaranteed first-round picks then they’re not going to get them and the Jets will play a waiting game until the Packers lose any resemblance of leverage. There also is a brand perception element to this. Rodgers has asked the Packers to get this deal done, it doesn’t look great that they’re dragging their heels and leaving a franchise legend dangling in the wind.
If this was a leverage see-saw then I’d put 75% of the leverage on the Jets' side based on three really important facts that are indisputable at this point:
The Packers want to move on and can’t carry AR’s cap in 2023
The Jets are the only team interested in trading for him
Rodgers has publicly said he wants to play for the Jets.
This deal is going to get done, and if I were the Packers…I’d want to get it done sooner rather than later.
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