Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday he intends to play for the New York Jets next season, and confirmed that the Green Bay Packers intend to move on.
"I made it clear my intention was to play and to play for the New York Jets, and I haven't been holding anything up," Rodgers said during an appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show." "It's the compensation that the Packers are trying to get."
Rodgers confirmed he recently met with Jets officials but denied that he gave the Jets a "wish list" of players he'd like them to acquire. A trade has not been finalized, and Rodgers is still under contract with Green Bay.
The Packers hoped to have the situation resolved by the official start of free agency Wednesday, Packers President Mark Murphy said last week.
"Ideally, for everybody, would be to have this resolved before the start of free agency on March 15," Murphy told WBAY-TV.
During the interview, Murphy indicated the Packers were ready to move on from Rodgers, saying the organization wanted to find a "win" for both sides. He also said he believes 2020 first round draft pick Jordan Love is ready to become the team’s starting quarterback.
Murphy acknowledged that the situation with Rodgers was reminiscent of the departure of Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, who was traded to the Jets in 2008.
"We're very fortunate to have back-to-back Hall of Fame quarterbacks," he said, noting Favre’s departure came very early into his tenure as Packers president. "Very few players play for only one team."
Moving on from Aaron Rodgers
Peter Bukowski is the co-founder of Packers newsletter The Leap, host of the Locked On Packers podcast and has covered the team on-and-off for about 15 years. He said he believes now is the time for the organization to move on from Rodgers.
Bukowski said Rodgers’ level of play last season wasn’t at the standard the team had grown accustomed to, making it easier for the Packers to decide that keeping him wasn’t worth the sometimes controversial comments off-the-field.
"Now is really the only time that you can really make this move," he told Wisconsin Public radio. "It can't go beyond this year unless Aaron Rodgers completely reworked his contract, but it seems like the die is cast on this."
Love’s performance in a November 2022 matchup against the Eagles also helped make the case that now was the right time to move on, Bukowski said.
"If 2021 had been the only sample of Jordan Love that we had, Green Bay might be a little bit more hesitant in an offseason like this one to move on from Aaron Rodgers," he said.
Bukowski said keeping Rodgers would put the Packers on a "different trajectory," forcing the team to "load up" on offensive weapons in hopes of making a Super Bowl run in 2023. But that would leave the Packers with little flexibility going into the 2024 season, in which Love would presumably be the starting quarterback, he said.
"You have no opportunities really to improve your team, and it's going to be a lame duck 2024 season," he said of a scenario where Rodgers stays in Green Bay. "It's one of the reasons why this just doesn't make sense. It has to be now to cut the cord. That allows you to move forward in 2023 and then have a clean slate to try and work this out in 2024."
A Hall of Fame career
After serving as Favre’s backup for his first three years in the NFL, Rodgers’ career in Green Bay has been one of the greatest in franchise — and perhaps league — history.
"Aaron Rodgers is an all-time great player, an all-time great Green Bay Packer and what he provided this franchise is worth its weight in green and gold," Bukowski said.
Rodgers led the 2010 Packers to a Super Bowl victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers, won the NFL MVP award four times, was named to the 2010s all-decade team, has been a Pro Bowl selection 10 times and holds a slew of statistical accomplishments.
He ranks third in NFL history in career passer rating, first in touchdown-to-interception ratio and first in interception percentage. In 2011 and 2020, Rodgers had the best single-season passer ratings in NFL history. He has the only three seasons in league history with 40 or more touchdown passes and seven or fewer interceptions. And the California native led the NFL in interception percentage for a league-record six times.
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"I'm debatably the best player in franchise history," Rodgers said Wednesday.
Rodgers was also the quarterback who saw the team take the lead in the NFL’s oldest rivalry against the Chicago Bears. The Packers currently lead the series 105-95-6, after trailing the Bears for decades.
In his comments to WBAY-TV, Packers president Murphy expressed gratitude for Rodgers’ contributions to the organization.
"Aaron will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame," he said. "He'll be in our Hall of Fame, and we'll bring him back to retire his number."
Rodgers expressed frustration with communication from the Packers front office Wednesday, but also said he was grateful to the organization, the city of Green Bay and the fans.
"I was drafted by Green Bay, and f***ing love that city, love that organization and always gonna have love for that," he said.
While Rodgers’ contributions to the Packers cannot be understated, Bukowski said it's likely best for the Packers and Rodgers to part ways.
"A lot of us have been in relationships where you care deeply about someone, and you cherish the memories that you have with that person," he said. "But you understand that, at a certain point, it's not in your best interest to continue that relationship, and that doesn't mean you have ill will."
Jordan Love Era almost set to begin in Green Bay
Rodgers’ departure would open the doors for Love to take the reins as the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers — similar to how Favre’s departure paved the way for Rodgers to become the starting signal caller.
Murphy told WBAY-TV the organization feels good about Love's ability to perform at the professional level and lead the team.
"We have a lot of confidence in him," he said. "We've drafted him and developed him. A lot of credit goes to our coaches and to Jordan. But we do think he's ready."
Likewise, Bukowski said he was impressed with what he saw from Love against the Eagles last season. He said Love has similar arm talent to Rodgers while also providing better mobility.
"Watch every throw he made in 2022, and you will see a quarterback hitting his back foot and firing," he said. "He has an understanding of the offense, an understanding of (pass) progressions and has a better understanding of how to attack defenses."
Like Rodgers, Love also had to spend his first three seasons in the NFL as a backup to a Hall of Fame quarterback.
Bukowski said that experience is only going to benefit Love’s ability to lead the team.
"I think it’s understanding command of the huddle, understanding practice habits and those kinds of things. That's what I think he really learned from Aaron Rodgers and that's what's gonna carry him through here," he said.
Rodgers also praised Love Wednesday, and said the 2020 draft pick would be a great player.
"He's a f***ing great kid. He had a really good year this year, getting better," Rodgers said. "He's got a bright future in front of him."