It’s been a week since quarterback Aaron Rodgers made a public plea for the Packers to be reasonable in their expectations from the Jets. In the past seven days, neither team has budged.
The Packers, as Rodgers said, are digging in their heels. The Packers, as we have reported, are content to wait until the draft to do a deal. The Packers, as I personally believe, have allowed the situation to become petty, and personal.
It’s not personal. It’s strictly business. And it’s time for the Jets to take a page from the Marty Lyons playbook and give the Packers the business.
These are the New York Jets. Technically, the New Jersey Jets. They should start demonstrating some of the attitude that those in their fan base would exhibit when dealing with difficult people in challenging situations.
The Jets need to go on the offensive. They perhaps need to be a little offensive. They need to tell the Packers how it’s going to be.
Why do you think Packers CEO Mark Murphy has suddenly opted to zip it? They know they’re running a grift by acting like they have the upper hand.
They don’t. They owe Rodgers nearly $60 million, fully guaranteed, for 2023. If they don’t trade him by Week One, his $58.3 million roster bonus becomes 2023 base salary — sending his cap number through the roof.
Amazingly, there are smart (supposedly) people who think the Packers actually have the leverage here. Much of the media has fallen in line with that mindset.
But the Jets don’t need Rodgers right now. They don’t need him for the early stages of the offseason program. They arguably don’t need him for OTAs, not when he: (1) knows the playbook like the back of his giant hand; and (2) probably doesn’t want to show up before training camp, anyway.
It’s always critical, in a deadline-driven business, to get two negotiating parties to agree on the deadline. The Packers think the deadline is draft. The Jets should take the initiative and say, “No, it’s the start of training camp.”
The Jets should make a non-negotiable offer that will remain open until the 2023 draft. They should tell the Packers that, after the 2023 draft, the non-negotiable offer will pivot to the 2024 draft — and possibly 2025, in the event Rodgers plays in 2024. They should tell the Packers the non-negotiable offer stays on the table until training camp opens.
At the same time, Rodgers should tell the Packers that, if he’s not traded before the start of training camp, he’ll be showing up, just like Brett Favre did 15 years ago. Rodgers should tell the Packers that he’ll be there, and that he’ll stay there, until he’s traded.
Rodgers also should tell the Packers that he fully expects to participate in practice (by rule, the team can’t put him on ice), creating the risk that he’ll suffer a season-ending injury that will put the Packers firmly on the hook for his full compensation package.
It will take coordination and commitment from the Jets and Rodgers to pull this off. But the Packers have been punking the Jets in part because the Packers believe they can. The Jets need to punch back, aggressively, to make the Packers realize that they don’t hold the cards on this.
Taking an aggressive stand with the Packers would have a collateral benefit. Rodgers clearly wants someone to take up his cause that the Packers are being prickly (or prick-y) about the situation. If the Jets tell the Packers to shove your feckin’ cheese up your ass, Rodgers will become even more determined to do everything he can to repay the Jets with a great performance in 2023.
Hell, maybe he’ll even gather his future teammates in California or wherever to get acquainted with them, on and off the field, as he moves closer to inevitably becoming a member of the team.
That’s the reality here. He will inevitably be a Jet. At the very absolute latest, it will happen just before Week One. The practical deadline is (or should be) the opening of camp. The sooner the Packers realize that, no, they don’t have the better of the leverage here, the sooner the deal will be done and everyone can move on.
And the best way to make that happen will be for the Jets to start acting like they’re from the place where the state bird is the middle finger.