As of April 6, 2023, quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still a Green Bay Packer. Despite his public statement over three weeks ago that he intends to leave the organization in which he’s spent 18 seasons to join the New York Jets, nothing has transpired. With the start of the 2023 NFL Draft just 21 days away, the clock continues to tick. If the April 27 or 28 deadline passes, could the Packers explore options beyond the Jets?
The decision wouldn’t be made in good faith, with Rodgers explicitly mentioning the Jets as a team he wishes to play for, and the Jets openly opposing a pursuit of quarterback Lamar Jackson. The holdup however has been centered around compensation. Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is hoping to get a considerable return for the franchise quarterback while Jets general manager Joe Douglas is hoping to land the future Hall of Fame quarterback at a bargain.
The back and forth is expected to be sorted out by the start of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Jets have a stout arsenal of picks the Packers should be interested in obtaining, including the 13, 42, 43, and 112 overall picks. The Packers ideally would look to acquire immediate compensation that could be used this year to provide support around the franchise’s new signal caller Jordan Love. However, if this conundrum persists beyond the first two rounds of the draft, things become complicated.
As Matt Schneidman of The Athletic laid out this week, “the Packers would seize the leverage with the two days they’d use draft capital exchanged for Rodgers having passed [in the draft].” The sentiment was shared by Gutekunst who understands the ticking time frame around getting this deal done.
“Certainly, if we get beyond the draft, then everything changes, compensation changes,” Gutekunst said. “That would be a whole different scenario.”
After that time has passed on April 28, the Packers would no longer have to be bound to the New York Jets’ demands. Instead, Gutekunst could start ringing up the phones of other general managers around the league. Teams such as the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, and most notably the San Francisco 49ers would be apt to answer the phone.
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk first discussed the potential of the 49ers getting involved with a potential trade for Rodgers if “the Packers-Jets deal falls apart.” The Packers have expressed a clear desire to deal Rodgers out of the NFC if possible. However, if a better package were to present itself, it’d be hard for Gutekunst to pass it up.
Whoever the potential suitor may be, Schneidman also described that it could play in the Packers’ best interest cap-wise to wait until after the draft to deal the four-time MVP despite missing out on draft capital this year.
“The Packers actually might be incentivized to wait until after June 1 to make a deal because the 2023 dead money hit of more than $40.3 million if Rodgers is traded before June 1 would be split over two years, according to Over The Cap — about $15.8 million in 2023 and the rest in 2024,” he explained.
This would provide some short-term cap relief for the Packers but conversely, the team would still have Rodgers on the books for two years instead of one. This upcoming trade has tons of implications on all sides which explains why a deal has yet to be finalized at this point. Something or someone will eventually have to give well before the start of the regular season.——————
Kole Noble is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in North Carolina and is a huge NFL Draft nut. You can follow him on twitter at @SlawSportsShow.
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