Grading the Aaron Rodgers Trade: Jets and Packers Finally Complete Deal for Future Hall of Famer

The wait is over, as the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets agreed to terms on an Aaron Rodgers trade on Monday. Let's grade the deal for both sides.

Our long national nightmare is finally over. More than a month after Aaron Rodgers indicated he wanted to play for the New York Jets in 2023, Gang Green has officially worked out a trade for the Green Bay Packers‘ 39-year-old quarterback. Let’s run through the details of the mega-deal and grade the trade for both teams.

Grading the Aaron Rodgers Trade From Packers to Jets

Although the Jets and Packers had reportedly reached an impasse in trade talks, recent reports suggested that a trade could be hammered out before the draft.

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New York will receive Rodgers, pick No. 15 in the first round, and a 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 170), according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Green Bay will receive pick No. 13, a 2023 second-round pick (No. 42), a 2023 sixth-round pick (No. 207), and a conditional 2024 second-rounder. The conditional choice will convert to a first-round pick if Rodgers plays 65% of the Jets’ offensive snaps next season.

Jets Become Instant Contenders With Rodgers Under Center

The Jets almost surely would have made the playoffs in 2022 had they any semblance of competency play at quarterback. New York’s defense kept them in games and ultimately finished fourth in scoring, fifth in yardage, and sixth in efficiency.

But with Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, and Mike White all taking uninspired turns under center, the Jets ranked bottom-four in offensive scoring and efficiency. New York finished with a 7-10 record, two games out of a postseason position in the AFC.

Rodgers will become the best quarterback ever to wear a Jets uniform, and he should be able to make New York a contender next season — even if his play doesn’t get back to the MVP levels it was at in 2020 and 2021.

Last year, Rodgers declined in nearly every metric. His touchdown rate went from 9.1% in 2020 and 7% in 2021 to just 4.8% in 2022. After posting NFL-low interception rates for four consecutive seasons, Rodgers’ pick rate went to 2.2% last year. And he finished just 20th in EPA + CPOE composite score.

However, Rodgers’ dip in production came in his first year without Davante Adams, who had been traded to the Las Vegas Raiders during the 2022 offseason. Without his safety blanket, Rodgers was forced to rely on a Packers receiving corps led by Allen Lazard and rookie Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs.

Rodgers will work with Lazard again in New York, but the ex-Packers receiver will be Rodgers’ No. 2 instead of his No. 1. Reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson, who somehow posted an 83-1,103-4 line despite the Jets’ abhorrent quarterback play, will give Rodgers an Adams-esque weapon on the outside.

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Learning New York’s offense should be a breeze for Rodgers, especially given that the Jets hired former Green Bay OC Nathaniel Hackett for the same role this year. Rodgers admitted that Hackett’s presence in New York was a factor in his decision to join the Jets.

If the Jets and Rodgers don’t alter his contract, he’ll come to New York at extremely affordable rates. His cap charges are scheduled to be just $15.79 million in 2023 and $32.542 million in 2024. That amounts to roughly a $24 million average salary over the next years, or roughly what the Las Vegas Raiders are paying Jimmy Garoppolo.

There is still a risk that Rodgers could retire after the 2023 campaign and leave the Jets with significant dead money. There was a thought that Green Bay could send a conditional pick to New York in the event that Rodgers hangs up his cleats, but the only conditional choice in the trade is heading to the Packers.

Jets owner Woody Johnson — worried about the Russell Wilson trade example — was reportedly concerned that Rodgers could struggle or suffer an injury next season, forcing Gang Green to send a top-five pick to the Packers. But the Jets have protected themselves against a disaster. If Rodgers fails to play 65% of New York’s snaps next year, Green Bay will only receive a 2024 second-rounder.

Denver gave up two firsts, two seconds, a fifth, quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, and defensive lineman Shelby Harris for Wilson and a fourth-round choice. Rodgers is older than Wilson, but he has a better recent track record and is coming at a much more affordable price.

We’ve seen quarterbacks fall off a cliff before, and if that happens to Rodgers, we’ll look back at this trade in a different light. But given the price tag, this is a reasonable deal for the Jets, even if it’s a slight overpay.

Grade: B

Packers Make the Best of a Bad Situation

Ultimately, I think the Rodgers trade will go down as a win-win. But the Packers probably got the better end of the swap.

For weeks, it looked like Green Bay would ultimately acquire a 2023 second-rounder and a conditional 2024 first-rounder in exchange for Rodgers. General manager Brian Gutekunst got just that, but he also extracted a slight pick swap in the first round (moving from No. 15 to No. 13) and exchanged a fifth-round choice for a fourth-round selection.

The Packers will take on more than $40 million in dead money by trading Rodgers before June 1, but that’s a one-time hit. They’ll clear all future years and money from Rodgers’ deal, allowing them to start fresh as soon as 2024.

MORE: Green Bay Packers Should Consider Taking QB in Round 1 — Even With Jordan Love

And Green Bay managed to accomplish this despite Rodgers being 39 years old and desperately no longer wanting to remain a Packer. Green Bay was backed into a corner — they had already talked about Rodgers in the past tense, and there was no way they could have him return to the team at this point.

But they still walked away with an excellent package in exchange for Rodgers that will allow them to add talent around new starting quarterback Jordan Love. With Rodgers gone, Green Bay will have more than $54 million in cap space in 2024 — and that’s before they make decisions on veterans like David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, and Preston Smith.

With that extra money, the Packers can give Love more weapons and fortify a defense that’s remained stagnant for a few seasons. And with their extra draft picks, Green Bay could hedge against Love — a virtual unknown at the NFL level — by selecting another quarterback.

The Rodgers trades gives the Packers options. Moving on from a Hall of Famer is never easy, but Green Bay didn’t have much of a choice, and they still elicited a solid return from the Jets. Now, Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur can begin rebuilding the Packers’ roster around Love.

Grade: A

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