The New York Jets have as much riding on the 2023 season as any team in the NFL. By acquiring Aaron Rodgers this offseason, the Jets have vaulted themselves into instant contender status. The AFC East is as difficult as any division in football, but adding Rodgers to a roster that already featured an elite defense put New York on a path toward the Super Bowl.
Still, the Jets have work to do as training camp gets underway. What items remain on New York’s agenda this summer?
3 Final Moves for the New York Jets
Resolve Aaron Rodgers’ Contract
After the Jets grabbed Rodgers from the Packers, they were surprised to learn that he had already agreed to restructure his contract with Green Bay. The future Hall of Fame quarterback moved his fully guaranteed $58.3 million option bonus from 2023 to 2024 before being traded to New York.
“We didn’t know the exact ramifications,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas told Pro Football Talk in May. “It was just important to us that the cap number wasn’t going to go higher than it was at the time that we agreed to it.
“We didn’t know that it was actually going to go down to the minimum, so when they re-did the deal, you know, we saw the new number, knew that we saw that it was low for this year. We’re still working on restructuring aspects of the deal as we speak, but we feel like we’re in a really good place.”
For the time being, Rodgers is under contract at a league minimum rate ($1.165 million) in 2023. But his compensation will balloon to more than $107 million in 2024, so the Jets must determine how to restructure his contract.
New York could shift Rodgers’ option bonus back into this season and add multiple void years onto the end of his contract. That would allow Gang Green to spread out his cap hits over multiple seasons, especially if Rodgers has internally committed to playing past 2023. The Jets have $25+ million in cap space, so they have room to work out a deal that’s tenable for all parties.
Sign a Linebacker
New York’s defense ranked top five in scoring, yards, and efficiency last season and will return most of their key pieces in 2023. Starting talent isn’t an issue on the Jets’ depth chart, but they could stand to add depth in a few places.
At linebacker, New York is set with C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams in nickel packages, while Jamien Sherwood, Zaire Barnes, Chazz Surratt, and Hamsah Nasirildeen are set to compete for backup and special-teams duty.
If the Jets want to add a veteran, re-signing Kwon Alexander makes the most sense after he started 12 games for the Jets last season and played roughly 50% of the club’s defensive snaps. He boasts far more experience than any of New York’s other reserve ‘backers, and the two sides reportedly kept in touch after the draft.
Alexander met with the Steelers in May and could have other suitors as training camp ramps up. After playing on a league-minimum salary in 2022, he’d probably command a similar price tag this season.
Figure Out a Solution For Corey Davis
Reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson will return in 2023, but the rest of the Jets’ wide receiver corps will look a lot different. Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, and Randall Cobb are in, while Elijah Moore and Denzel Mims are out.
These changes have left Corey Davis — who signed a three-year, $37.5 million contract with the Jets before the 2021 campaign — in something of a no-man’s land.
Davis, 28, has one year and $10.5 million remaining on his contract. While Douglas indicated in May that Davis would stick on New York’s roster, there’s almost no chance he’ll stay around without accepting a pay cut. In June, Brian Costello of the New York Post reported that the Jets had already approached Davis about reducing his salary.
Davis might play hardball and hope that he can land with a WR-needy team if New York ultimately releases him, but it’s difficult for free agents to secure significant contracts at this point in the offseason. If the Jets offer him a fully guaranteed $5 million with a chance to earn back some of his remaining salary via incentives, he’d probably be wise to accept.