The waiting game continues for Aaron Rodgers. He says a decision is coming soon, but who knows how he defines the term?
Assuming that the Jets find out by Wednesday whether Rodgers will accept a trade to New York, and in the event Rodgers decides not to change teams, the question becomes what will the Jets do?
There aren’t many obvious options. Jimmy Garoppolo becomes an instant short-list candidate. Baker Mayfield could be an option, too. They surely wouldn’t bring back Sam Darnold, and Tom Brady is retired. (At least for now.)
It’s possible that the Jets would become sufficiently desperate post-Rodgers to offer Lamar Jackson the five-year, fully-guaranteed contract he has yet to get from Baltimore and may not realize from any other team.
There’s another name that’s been rattling around, even though his current team has said he won’t be traded. (Then again, if they ever say they have “no intention” to trade him, that’s when the trade will happen.)
Would it be crazy for the Rams to trade Stafford only two seasons after giving up Jared Goff, two first-round picks, and a third-round pick to get Stafford? Absolutely. But trading him before Friday would be the only way to avoid having another $57 million in future compensation to become fully guaranteed.
The Jets currently are prepared to pay Aaron Rodgers nearly $60 million for what could be only one year of employment. Stafford’s $57 million covers 2023 and 2024. That makes it easy for the Jets to justify the move, financially.
Still, it wouldn’t be easy for the Rams to justify making the move. As recently noted, the Rams would take a $48 million cap charge by trading Stafford this week.
So what’s worse for the Rams? Allowing another $57 million in guarantees to vest for a quarterback who might not have the supporting cast to play well and stay healthy, or removing the Band-Aid, taking the $48 million cap charge, collecting extra draft picks, and moving on?
Like many teams, the Rams will not give any credence to a possible trade of such an important player until the moment it happens. Also, Stafford would have to be willing to uproot his family from L.A. and take them all the way to the other side of the country.
It’s currently hard to imagine a Stafford trade happening. It’s also not exactly easy to imagine the Rams pouring another $58.5 million onto the $61.5 million the team paid Stafford a year ago.
He turned 35 last month. It feels like an old 35 — partially because it feels like he’s been in the NFL forever and partially because he’s taken plenty of hits and endured plenty of injuries.
It’s actually kind of amazing to think Stafford is days away from having $120 million vest in the aftermath of winning a Super Bowl. If the Rams truly hope to “remodel” (as G.M. Les Snead recently put it), they need to quit giving such gigantic contracts to quarterbacks that end up not being the long-term answers at the position.
It started with Goff and the ill-advised second deal he received after only three NFL seasons, and who lasted only two seasons after signing it. It’s continuing with Stafford, who may have only two more years at most in L.A.
There’s a chance, albeit slim, that he may have only two more days in L.A. Especially if there ends up being no chance of Rodgers joining the Jets.