Jets and Packers Agree on Trade for Aaron Rodgers

The Jets and Packers finally agreed to a trade today that had been expected for some time, sending Packers legend Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets for a pretty amazing draft haul. Here are the terms as reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN:

This is a great trade for the Packers who more or less won the game of chicken with New York over trade compensation. The last time Rodgers had not played in 65% of the snaps in Green Bay it was 2017, so the Jets will likely wind up giving up a 2nd round pick and a 1st round pick for Rodgers, who may only play for one season with the team.

On a point scale basis this is pretty huge. The Jets will give up in the ballpark of 4.500 points on the Fitzgerald-Spielberger point chart and bring back in 2,025 points and Rodgers. That would put Rodgers value somewhere around the 2nd or 3rd pick in the entire draft. That is a massive number for a player who may decide to retire after the year if he does not like New York.

On a valuation basis, which I described in this video from a few months ago, you can see the expected outcomes of the trade from the perspective of both sides. Here are the numbers assuming that Rodgers is a Jet for one season (and valuing the 2024 pick as if it was made this year)

The net value loss for the Jets, assuming Rodgers brings a $53M value, is about $33M over four years. All of the value for NY comes in this season with about $15M of losses in each year after. If Rodgers plays two years it brings it down to about $30 million but at least you get two years coming out ahead if you are the Jets. The terms of this trade pretty much make this AFC Championship of bust for the Jets.

It was reported that the Packers and Rodgers are revising his contract to make things easier on Green Bay but I don’t see that as picking up money for the Jets (since that would make it worse for the Packers). My assumption is that they are revising the option language so they will not be stuck with any contract proration from the option this year with the credit coming in 2024. The Jets need the option in place, or a salary reduction, to make the trade and will have to restructure a few contracts before the draft to create the cap room to bring Rodgers in.

Assuming that the two sides did not modify the contract outside of an option tweak. here is how the numbers should work.

For Green Bay the math is simple. They are still on the hook for Rodgers existing prorations from signing bonuses paid over the course of his contract. He will now count $40,313,750 on the Packers salary cap as dead money. This money is attributed to a $14.26 million bonus paid in 2019, a $14.464 million bonus paid in 2021, and a $40.8 million signing bonus paid last season. Their salary cap position will not improve this year and will actually get worse with the team losing about $8.69 million in cap space.

This was really a move about the future for Green Bay. This saves them potentially $68 million on the cap had Rodgers decided to not play with Green Bay next season and at a minimum it moves his $40.7 million cap charge completely off the books. While not a complete salary dump this was clearly a contract that the Packers signed with the intention to be potentially trade and once the playoff run was over it was time to move forward.

The Jets are responsible for Rodgers $59.515 million salary in 2023, but he will only count for $15.79 million on the salary cap. Things get tricky in 2024 because the cap charges are largely based on what Rodgers decides to do. Rodgers has $49.25 million that is protected for injury in 2024 and it becomes fully guaranteed if he is on the roster a few days after the Super Bowl.

There are three scenarios for 2024. If Rodgers plays his cap hit will be $32.541 million. If he decides he no longer wants to be with the Jets or they decide they no longer want him he will count for $43.725 million in dead money. If he retires he would likely sign a contract to help the team out which would split his dead money cap charge to $14.575 million in 2024 and $29.15 million in 2025.

If Rodgers makes it to 2025 again there would be multiple scenarios. Technically, he is under contract for the 2025 season but the salary is so low it is unlikely that he would ever honor the deal.  If he decides to not want to play for the Jets they would have to deal with $60.48 million in dead money in 2025.  My feeling is he would work with the team whether if being released or retired to allow the Jets to split that number at $30.241 million per year. If he decided he wants to continue with the Jets they would still have a minimum of $30.241 million in cap charges and would add on to that accordingly.

It is a big investment for the Jets considering this could turn out to be a one year $60 million contract, but given the lack of development of Zach Wilson and lack of other options it is a risk that is worth taking for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010 even at the super high trade price. If things don’t work out they will probably be starting over from square one with a new coaching staff, GM, and roster in 2024.