With the first wave of free agency in the rearview mirror, the Packers still haven’t crossed off their top offseason priority: resolve the Aaron Rodgers situation.
Negotiations between Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst and Jets general manager Joe Douglas remain ongoing as they prepare to see each other at the NFL’s annual league meeting in Phoenix later this week and into next. Rodgers will be traded to the Jets (right?). It’s just a matter of when, and it seems Green Bay’s sixth-year GM is playing hardball so as to extract the most value for arguably the best player in franchise history.
Neither side has all the leverage. The Packers are incentivized to trade Rodgers before the draft begins April 27 so they can use whatever draft capital they recoup to help build around quarterback Jordan Love right away. The Jets’ incentive to trade for Rodgers sooner rather than later is that, well, they presumably want to get their preferred starting quarterback in the building.
The Packers aren’t asking for multiple first-round picks, according to a source with knowledge of negotiations, but it would make sense if Gutekunst is asking for at least the No. 13 pick in this year’s draft in return for Rodgers. Until a resolution is reached, Rodgers remains under contract with the Packers despite his public acknowledgement on “The Pat McAfee Show” last week that he wants to and intends to play for the Jets.
If Rodgers isn’t traded before the draft, a scenario that seems unlikely, the next deadline to watch is June 1. If Rodgers is traded before June 1, the Packers shoulder a dead money hit of more than $40 million this year. If he’s traded after June 1, the dead money hit for this year is less than $16 million and the remainder of that about $40 million falls on the 2024 books. The other financial deadline to watch is Sept. 1, as Rodgers’ contract is currently constructed. If Rodgers is still under contract with the Packers by then, both teams will have a whole new dilemma on their hands.
The Packers have still conducted other business through the first week of free agency, albeit not much of grand significance, despite the fact the Rodgers trade has not yet been finalized.
Here are some thoughts on what Green Bay has done so far in the new league year and what’s left on the checklist.
Priority No. 2
Outside of finding an appropriate deal for Rodgers, Green Bay’s top priority in free agency was retaining first-team All-Pro kick returner Keisean Nixon after the 25-year-old helped transform a long-suffering special teams unit last season.