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This NFL offseason features a pair of veteran Super Bowl Champion quarterbacks potentially looking for new teams. But the difference between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers is that Brady is a free agent and can sign with whomever he wants. Rodgers, on the other hand, needs to be traded by the Green Bay Packers if he’s to play elsewhere.
NBC Sports writer Peter King guesses that Green Bay wants two first-round picks in exchange for the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
King also posits that the New York Jets could be willing to give up those picks for Rodgers. I don’t disagree that they might do it. I do disagree that it’s the correct move.
Perhaps the Jets believe that Rodgers not only elevates them to potential Super Bowl contender status but can mentor Zach Wilson. Rodgers and Wilson have a relationship, though the former isn’t known for giving the latter the best of advice.
The Jets trading for Aaron Rodgers would be a disaster
There are a few problems with both of these assertions, however. The first is that the Jets are not one Aaron Rodgers away from a Super Bowl. They had a nice year. But they play in the AFC where Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen all reside. Allen even plays in the same division.
And, depending on what the Dolphins do at quarterback this offseason, New York might be the third-best team in their own division. And you can’t ever count out Bill Belichick.
Plus, they would have to trade this year’s first-round pick, #13 overall. That’s a prized selection, and a pick the Jets need.
The second part, regarding Zach Wilson, also makes no sense. Rodgers is signed for two more seasons and carries a total cap hit of $48 million (the majority of that hit comes in 2024-25).
By the end of the second season, Wilson would be a free agent. No chance the Jets pick up his fifth-year option if he hasn’t started a game in two years.
So, despite Joe Namath signing off on Aaron Rodgers coming to New York and even taking over his famous #12 jersey, I don’t see it happening.
None of that even takes into account that Rodgers had his worst season in at least a decade in 2022. Does he even have enough in the tank to lead another Super Bowl run?
Trading for Rodgers makes little sense for most teams
All of those caveats apply to any other team interested in Rodgers’ services. First, you have to believe that last season was an anomaly and Rodgers will return to form. That’s far from a guarantee for a guy who turns 40 during next season.
Second, you have to believe that your team is only a quarterback away from a championship and be willing to part with premium draft picks. Third, you open your Super Bowl window for one — maybe two — seasons.
Rodgers’ cap hit next year isn’t bad at all ($16 million). But it jumps up to $32 million the following season. Still not completely unreasonable, but definitely going to cost you another strong roster player.
Third, you need to be in a situation where you’re not trying to open a Super Bowl window while the teams around you are already in the midst of theirs. That’s very tough to do in the AFC, as mentioned.
Not only are the three guys discussed stalking that conference, but you also have the up-and-coming Chargers who I expect to be in the mix next season, as well.
That leaves us with NFC teams. There’s one NFC team that I think actually makes some sense.
The Detroit Lions.
The Lions reached their ceiling with Jared Goff. He played well this season, but he’s not going to be able to elevate that team. Detroit also has the draft picks to make it work.
They have two first-round picks this season (their own, #18, and the Rams’ selection, #6). Additionally, they have a pair of second-round picks.
Now, it’s unlikely Green Bay would trade Rodgers to an NFC North rival, especially the Lions. But if they want two first-round picks, they may have no choice. Putting Rodgers in a dome might help his career add some longevity, as well.
I’m not saying it will happen, simply that it makes the most sense of any option.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ