Let’s face it: Joe Douglas and the Jets need this Aaron Rodgers victory
Some people believe he’ll return to Green Bay. Others think he’s destined to land in another city. A rare few believe he’ll willingly play second-fiddle to Tom Brady when Canton comes calling (retirement).
WFAN’s Craig Carton hopes the man isn’t “playing” his beloved football team. Meanwhile, Brandon Tierney thinks it’s only a matter of time before it comes to glorious fruition. (All while the great Joe Benigno sticks by his, “Never expect great things so disappointment never surfaces,” defeatist attitude on those picturesque Florida golf courses that require white shoes. Bro … oh, the pain.)
Whether or not Aaron Rodgers comes to the New York Jets this offseason is anybody’s best guess. We know very little about the legend’s football future, but what we do know is essential and looms large when grasping at the bigger picture.
In spite of the uncertainty, however, from a pure Jets’ perspective, Joe Douglas needs this win in the worst way.
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Rarely does such a perfect and unexpected situation arise in this league—one where the position at play is the last piece of the puzzle. Hardly ever can a short-term bandage work so brilliantly if all parties envision the same beautifully painted portrait on the wall.
Aaron Rodgers as the New York Jets quarterback in 2023 must be the goal, and I do believe Joe Douglas is keenly aware of that essential idea.
Just two offseasons ago, names flew around the digital Jets ether as they usually do.
First and foremost, Deshaun Watson became the hot name after New York missed out on the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. Usual arguments such as, “When you have a chance to acquire a proven franchise quarterback, you give up whatever you must.”
While I don’t think that should ever be the mindset, and while I also believe bypassing Watson was the best move, his name undoubtedly represented fandom hype in a charged-up fashion.
After a bevy of other names flew in and out of this frantic and oftentimes unrealistic space, Douglas tagged Zach Wilson as the fresh face of the franchise—a move I would have also made (without having met the kid or understanding his mental makeup). So, no matter the kid’s ultimate NFL destination, I would never begrudge Douglas and the Jets for that selection.
Then, in the 2022 offseason, a surprising name surfaced. The moment the Super Bowl 57 champion Kansas City Chiefs made Tyreek Hill available was seemingly the moment the Jets were in on the action.
“Wait a second … So, you’re saying this game-changing weapon is available and the Jets are actual players to acquire his services?” Jets fans were both stunned and giddy, reveling over the very real idea of Hill in Northern Jersey.
And that’s what marked the major difference between 2021 and 2022: Whereas the Watson and relatable quarterback names were mere fiction in 2021, the Hill possibility was as real as it got.
Hill preferred the sunshine and advantageous state income tax situation Florida currently holds. (Perhaps he and Benigno are on hole No. 13 at this very moment.) What we know about the offered compensation places the Jets neck and neck with the Dolphins, and for that reason, Douglas isn’t on the hook for the brunt of the blame.
Besides, Douglas snagged Garrett Wilson later in the offseason. So, no harm, no foul, strategically speaking, at the very least.
Nevertheless, a miss is a miss. And this miss continued to keep an unwanted narrative ferociously rolling.
The more this Jets franchise continues with the pesky narrative that has some believe there’s little interest in wanting to play for the franchise, the more the culture has not yet changed via perception.
There’s no question that Douglas and Robert Saleh have successfully altered the Jets’ overall culture for the better. When really breaking down the organization’s current process, it’s remarkable to think about the obvious talent that is featured across the depth chart.
Folks, it’s no easy feat to take a franchise mired in a decade-plus horrid-drafting rut, with questionable front-office practices, and flip it on its head in such a short period of time. And that’s what this regime has accomplished.
Yet, the overall perception has not yet wholly flipped. Plus, missing out on Hill, a wide receiver is one thing; the quarterback position is a radically different animal.
Zach Wilson’s struggles coupled with the perception angle make Aaron Rodgers a priority beyond any other.
In fact, it’s likely that the Jets are even more talented than the general perception would have you believe. The current iteration of the NFL features quarterbacks in a way that’ll have ESPN blushing at its star-athlete gazing. Look no further than Sunday night’s Super Bowl which featured MVP Patrick Mahomes ripping the game away from Jalen Hurts’s capable hands (other than that one slippery play, of course).
It’s a quarterback league, and the Jets are currently an ultra-talented roster that’s been camouflaged by poor QB play and injuries. In short, they’re a stud QB and better coaching away from Super Bowl contention.
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Douglas knows this. It’s his job to make Aaron Rodgers realize this as much as possible. And it’s also essential that Rodgers understands just how perfect a situation it really is for all involved—even young Zach Wilson.
With Wilson seemingly going nowhere and Rodgers on his last legs, a potential Rodgers-Jets union even makes sense logistically at the position. Wilson has two more years remaining on his rookie deal with a team option to boot. Although the team option would be expensive, Rodgers committing himself to the Jets for two seasons provides for a seamless transition into Wilson’s fifth NFL year.
So, although I line up with Douglas when thinking about building a roster that yields the highest possible development ceiling—which means drafting a young quarterback on a rookie deal—moments arise when the road splits in a meaningfully opportunistic way.
This is one of those rare moments. This is a moment in time when adding a high-priced veteran actually is the answer.
In spite of the Jets’ best efforts, it’s veteran quarterback season, and it just so happens that Aaron Rodgers may be available. It also just so happens that Robert Saleh’s best friend is the head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
For all we know, backchannels have been alive and well for quite some time, and the parties are simply waiting on No. 12 to come out of the “darkness.” Oh yeah, and we haven’t even mentioned the fact that one of Rodgers’s favorite football people, Nathaniel Hackett, is now in town.
Then again, for all we know, Rodgers has no interest in the Jets despite Douglas’s best efforts.
While it’s true that sometimes—i.e. the Tyreek Hill situation—in spite of best efforts, the player simply opts for a different route; that idea does not make this necessary offseason victory any less critical and that more crushing if it does not play out in the Jets’ favor.
For so many reasons that make too much football sense, Joe Douglas needs the Aaron Rodgers victory for his New York Jets in the worst way.
The alternatives, at this point, just don’t suffice.
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