It’s been nearly two weeks since Aaron Rodgers publicly stated his intention to remain in the NFL and play for the New York Jets. Fans and media have not received much clarity during that time … until Monday when Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst shared with reporters at the owners’ meeting in Phoenix his perspective on the situation.
Gutekunst said the Packers tried to get in contact with Rodgers “many times” during the course of the 2023 offseason to gauge his interest in a return, but the future Hall of Fame quarterback did not respond, leading the Packers to make other plans for the future.
“Our inability to reach him or for him to respond in any way — I think at that point … I had to do my job,” Gutekunst said. “I was really looking forward to having conversations with Aaron to see where he fit into (our future), but there came a time where we had to make some decisions.”
These comments come in stark contrast to what Rodgers said on The Pat McAfee Show on March 15. During that appearance, the Packers quarterback insinuated there was a lack of transparency and communication on the team’s part.
“I wish that in the beginning of the offseason that had been the conversation, because I love direct communication,” Rodgers said. “If they had just said, ‘Listen, we think it’s time to move in a different direction. We love you. You’re going to be a Packer Hall of Famer. You’re going to go into the Hall as a Packer. We’re going to retire your number; whatever it might be, but it’s time to move on,’ I would’ve said, ‘Thank you so much. Just for telling me that. I really, really appreciate that. That means the world to me that you would tell me that.’ Because I really believe that’s the sentiment, and that’s fine. It really is. It’s totally fine. This is an incredible profession, but it’s a tough business, for sure.”
On Monday, Gutekunst said there was no timeline for a Rodgers trade, and — more revealing — the Packers do not necessarily require a first-round pick in a trade package. This contradicted the previous reporting that suggested that Green Bay’s asking price included New York’s No. 13 overall pick and more.
While the sixth-year general manager said it’s unlikely Rodgers will return, he added “all options are on the table,” leaving the door open for the quarterback to return should he have a change of heart. Barring unforeseen circumstances, however, it seems that Rodgers becoming a Jet is a matter of when not if.
“I’m not hitting the panic button,” Jets coach Robert Saleh told reporters Monday at the NFL owner’s meetings. “I’m confident that things are going to work out. You guys know me. I’m a very positive person and optimistic, so I’m confident that things will go the way we’re hoping. But at the same time, it’s not going to eat at me.”
Jets GM Joe Douglas, meanwhile, told reporters Monday that while he’s been in touch with Green Bay about a possible trade for Rodgers, there’s no sense of urgency.
Mitchell Schwartz, a former NFL offensive tackle and current analyst for The 33rd Team, believes the Packers have short-term leverage, while the Jets have long-term leverage in this situation.
“The Packers’ short-term leverage is the Jets want Rodgers in the building as quick as possible,” Schwartz said. “The Jets’ leverage is the Packers have to get Rodgers off the roster at a certain point. They do not want to pay him $60 million in cash and take his cap hit if that bonus gets paid out.”
It might take several more days or weeks for the Packers and Jets to hammer out the details of this trade, but Gutekunst’s suggestion that the Packers do not need a first-rounder in return for Rodgers is information that could shape the negotiations.
>>READ: Up for Debate: What Will Jets-Packers Trade Package Look Like for Rodgers?