For the Jets, Aaron Rodgers was always the right choice
In February and early March, the Derek Carr truthers were out in full force. To them, the argument was simple …
Carr represented the younger quarterback who would fully buy in—all while easing anxieties in the coming years (via a longer-term deal). So, to many New York Jets fans, Carr was their choice over the alternative.
There remained just one nagging issue at hand: Derek Carr cannot touch the other guy in the talent and overall production category.
Sometimes, as silly as it may sound or look in hindsight, it often transpires in a way where the most critical aspect of the debate turns out to be the most overlooked.
Which guy is the better player?
Aaron Rodgers has always been the correct quarterback choice for the New York Jets, and, quite frankly, it wasn’t even close. Not only can’t Carr touch Rodgers in the talent and stature department, but the quarterback the Jets ultimately set their sights on and landed was always the right move for other football reasons too many fans fail to realize.
Rodgers, 39, arrived in Florham Park, NJ, Wednesday morning—just two days after the official compensation for his services was reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Welcome to 1 Jets Dr. @AaronRodgers12 pic.twitter.com/C0W6ImrSvp
— Woody Johnson (@woodyjohnson4) April 26, 2023
Other than the hilarity of watching Jets fans slap themselves silly over this new incredible reality, this is indeed very real. Remarkably, it took unique events in order to get us here.
Yet, to the Jets’ grand credit, they took advantage of a situation that serves them extraordinarily well moving forward.
How we arrived here
Think about the events that had to transpire in order for Aaron Rodgers to the Jets to come to fruition.
Zach Wilson falling
First and foremost, Zach Wilson needed to fall on his face.
General manager Joe Douglas did the right thing when he pointed to the rookie quarterback strategy. The ceiling under which an NFL franchise can be built alongside a rookie quarterback contract presents maximum potential.
The moment the NFL changed how the rookie contracts worked, post-Sam Bradford, was the instant that NFL teams’ strategies changed. Suddenly, premium quarterback picks in the draft were deemed “contractually flexible.”
Douglas swung for the fences. He missed.
Denver Broncos failures
Although we do not yet know if Rodgers would have chosen the Jets without offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett in tow, the Denver Broncos’ 2022 failures also contributed significantly to the Jets fans’ near-fictional reality.
When Denver hired Hackett, the Rodgers-to-Broncos rumors flew across the digital NFL ether. Ultimately, Rodgers re-upped in Green Bay, and Denver brought in Russell Wilson for a king’s ransom.
That did not work.
Once the Jets moved on from Mike LaFleur, they turned their attention to Hackett—most likely with an eye on Aaron Rodgers, who was currently under contract with the team Robert Saleh’s best friend coaches.
What part did Mike’s brother, Matt LaFleur, play in this move?
At the very least, we know that his desire to trade up and draft Jordan Love is yet another stone-cold lock in making Rodgers the new Jets quarterback. Without that, Green Bay doesn’t move on.
Joe Douglas’s NFL draft success
Sure, Joe Douglas swung and missed at Zach Wilson, but if not for his overwhelming success in rebuilding this roster, Aaron Rodgers is not a Jet today.
To think that Douglas has hit on more draft picks than he’s busted on—over his first few drafts—is an incredible idea. Even the greatest talent evaluators in NFL history don’t hit on more prospects than busts (a greater than 50% success rate).
No matter how it’s argued, Douglas is extremely close to that 50/50 marker. The likes of Alijah Vera-Tucker, Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, and Breece Hall are a monster reason why the Jets now employ a legitimate NFL quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers is now, officially, the New York #Jets Minister of Darkness. (Watch out, AFC East.) pic.twitter.com/lUugUa9NxJ
— Jets X-Factor (@jetsxfactor) April 24, 2023
Why Rodgers has always been the Jets’ best bet
Now that we know how we arrived here, it’s time to get to the good stuff. It’s time to lay it out on the line.
Yes, Aaron Rodgers was always the right call.
Sometimes, a unique situation presents itself in a way that must be pounced on in an immediate yet calculating manner. This was one of those times.
Flexibility > inflexibility
One of the main reasons so many Jets fans wanted Derek Carr surrounded anxiety levels. Carr, the much younger man, would have arrived on a long-term deal that would have locked up the Jets’ quarterback future for many years onward.
Why in the wild world of sports is that deemed a good thing?
This is football. This is the NFL. This is the league the memorable Jerry Glanville dubbed “Not For Long,” in a way only he so hilariously could.
Why would overpaying for Carr’s talent over more years trump a better contractual value on Rodgers’s talent over a shorter period of time? One year in the NFL is an eternity. It’s a year-to-year league where the only thing worse than having no franchise quarterback is to desperately overpay for an average-to-good one (i.e. Kirk Cousins).
In such a sticky situation, being locked into a horrible quarterback deal with a non-elite guy is a death knell via team growth.
Aaron Rodgers is simply much, much better
Don’t overthink it, folks; Aaron Rodgers is far and away the much better quarterback over all the alternatives. The Carr backers who point to his four Pro Bowl nods and pretty solid stats fail to point out the obvious.
First and foremost, the Pro Bowl is a joke. Which Baltimore Ravens quarterback just played in the Pro Bowl Games this past winter? Perhaps more importantly, today’s NFL is littered with average quarterbacks putting up absurd numbers—due to the nature of the rules today.
Every starting quarterback can put up good statistical seasons. But not every quarterback is truly elite.
Not every quarterback is Aaron Rodgers.
Sure, compensation had to be given up for Rodgers—as opposed to Carr—but enjoying the flexibility of what will turn out to be his much more flexible contract and year-to-year nature benefits the Jets in a major way.
Joe Douglas is smart enough to realize that being on the year-to-year plan with an escape route is the much more fruitful position to be in—as opposed to being locked in with a “solid” quarterback on a mega-contract that lasts for too many years.
The cherry on top is the possibility that Zach Wilson figures it out with Rodgers in town. By no means is this piece of it a major piece of the puzzle, but it serves as just another potential win in the “flexible” department.
The Aaron Rodgers trade details in graphic form. #Jets pic.twitter.com/Vuyhoek7lS
— Jets X-Factor (@jetsxfactor) April 24, 2023
The time is now
This Jets roster is one of the most talented in the NFL. Period.
An NFL roster that wins seven games (and starts 5-2) with the league’s worst quarterback play is as good as any roster in the league. It’s tough to imagine just how much competent quarterback play will lift this roster, but those who understand to what level it will be lifted with an Aaron Rodgers in town, would not dare laugh at “Super Bowl contender” status and the “Jets” in the same sentence.
So, what’s an organization to do when it realizes it possesses one of the most talented rosters in the league? It swings for the fences with the best quarterback option on the market.
It acquires Aaron Rodgers.
And listen, Rodgers is no dummy; he understands exactly what he’s walking into here. He knows just how loaded this depth chart is, and just how much better it will be with him simply producing at a competent level (forget Hall of Fame level).
Yes, the swing and miss of Zach Wilson is why the Jets find themselves where they are today. But the process, led by Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh—one that values the process over the actual results, and one that preaches culture at every turn—is the true reason why a Hall of Fame plugging himself into a loaded roster is actually possible in the first place.
Very rarely does a young, loaded roster find itself in search of a quarterback—as usually, a quarterback is essential for a roster to reach “loaded” status. This situation is so incredibly unique in that and so many other ways that it should have heads spinning.
Fortunately, this New York Jets regime gets it, as does Aaron Rodgers.
Luckily, both sides remained steadfast in the belief that this marriage was perfect.
And yes, both sides are correct in their thinking: Aaron Rodgers has always been the correct quarterback choice for the New York Jets at this moment in football time.
When going “all-in,” targeting the very best will always be the best bet.
I respect Robbie’s opinion much more than my own. That being said I do worry about reports about Rodgers having lost his ability to move in the pocket and avoid rushers and that his arm accuracy and strength has deteriorated. I also worry about paying him 108 million for 2 years. 55 million a year makes him the highest paid player in the NFL. Eventually, that bill will come due.The case can be made for Derek Carr at 20 million a year cheaper is a much better value.
I’m not feeling all the jubilation being expressed here and elsewhere, and I don’t know why. Maybe I’m just not a jubilant person, and while there’s certainly truth to that, more likely it is this:
“enjoying the flexibility of what will turn out to be [Rodgers’] much more flexible contract and year-to-year nature benefits the Jets in a major way”
We haven’t seen the terms of the restructured contract, which hopefully will meet the definition of “much more flexible,” but as we know it now isn’t it true it’s not flexible at all? As I understand it, there are large cap hits in 2025 and 2026 coming for a quarterback that is likely to be retired, with no viable replacements, and no high first round picks to have any hope of finding one with a rookie contract. That sounds like the exact opposite of flexibility, and maybe that’s the anchor that’s weighing down my buoyancy.
Made worse, Rodgers’ terms were compared to Carr’s contract, which I’ve heard described as easily escapable after two years.