Aaron Rodgers left Green Bay in the offseason after starting for the Packers for 15 seasons. The team and the player had great success, but as is often the case with long-term relationships, things soured, and the two parted ways. While the parting was mostly amicable, Packers fans aren’t exactly taking a rooting interest in the New York Jets.
As for the Jets, they were a team missing just one or two key pieces, and they believe they found one in Aaron Rodgers. The early returns have been good, and the Jets and Rodgers both appear to be thrilled with the new relationship.
In fact, Rodgers is so thrilled he recently made the unprecedented move of completely restructuring his contract with the Jets, taking a massive pay cut in the process. Rodgers recently signed a two-year, $75 million dollar contract that is fully guaranteed, and while that is a lot of cheddar for the former cheese-head, it is still a significant pay cut.
Rodgers was set to make $110 million in guarantees, so the pay cut is substantial. However, the cut wasn’t out of necessity. In fact, the cut and two-year guaranteed money ensures Rodgers won’t be a one-and-done in New York and provides extra cap money so the Jets can continue to load up on talent to attempt to break the NFL’s longest playoff drought of 12 years.
Rodgers said about the deal: “The team gave up significant pieces for it to be just a one-year deal. I’m aware of that. … Anything could happen with my body or the success we have this year, but I’m having a blast, so I really don’t see this as a one-year-and-done thing.”
Both sides have been exceedingly happy thus far. Rodgers said: “We’ve all turned the page. It’s a new chapter. I think it’s going to be exciting for Green Bay, moving on. It’s definitely been really fun for me out here.”
The veteran quarterback has been taking great pains with his diet and exercise regimen to ensure his body holds up as he pushes 40 years old. Being the consummate competitor, Rodgers seeks to be like the GOAT, Tom Brady. He continued: “Obviously, Tom [Brady] set the standard playing at 45, which is crazy, but less crazy when you start to get closer to that because you still love the game, and you want to be there doing it. If you take care of yourself the right way, you put yourself in a position to at least entertain that thought.”
It doesn’t sound like Rodgers is planning to go away anytime soon, and the Jets are on the cusp of being a Super Bowl contender. Rodgers, always a thoughtful and introspective person, mused on the idea of change: “Change can be difficult, for sure, especially when it’s that drastic — 18 years in one spot. If you can lean into it and embrace it, there’s some really beautiful things on the other side.”
What the team and Rodgers hope is there is a Super Bowl on the other side. The team hasn’t sniffed at the big game since the days of Joe Willy Namath, but head coach Robert Saleh thinks he has his guy to get them there. He gushed about Rodgers: “I mean, the guy glows in the dark. He’s a pretty damn good quarterback.”
Hyperbole aside, Aaron Rodgers has shown a rare unselfishness, one his detractors didn’t think he possessed by losing money in order to help the team’s finances. What remains to be seen is whether he can get it done.
If he can, it will cement his legend and status as one of the best of his generation. If he can’t it might be back to the cave for another darkness retreat for the enigmatic signal caller. Either way, it is a rare sense of optimism for the New York Jets.
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