EXCLUSIVE CONTENT Get ESPN+ 2023 NFL free agency: Questions on Aaron Rodgers, Austin Ekeler
The first two days of NFL free agents in the books, Wednesday at 4:00 pm is the official start of the league’s new year. In a market filled with more offensive linemen, defensive tackles and safetys, and fewer high quality players in skill positions, trades – or opportunity trades – there were stories of a higher profile. Cornerbacks Stephon Gilmour and Jalen Ramsey and pass catchers DJ Moore and Darren Waller have already been traded, while running back Austin Ekeler has joined forwards DeAndre Hopkins and Courtland Sutton in the trade block.
Oh, and another deal that hasn’t happened yet. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ move from the Packers to the Jets is the league’s most poorly guarded secret, but it looks like he’s stuck in a neutral position. Rogers said he would not hold the Packers hostage by his decision, which is technically correct; Sportzshala’s Dianna Russini revealed on Tuesday that he sent Jets the number of players to consider, which is very similar to a list of requirements. New York added one of those wide receivers when they signed Allen Lazard, but the Rodgers deal is still on hold.
I have many questions about the situation with Rogers and everything that happened in the first few days of free will. I’ll start with a team that can buy Rodgers because he’s in a vulnerable position:
Go to question:
Will Ekeler have a trading market?
Are the leaders putting Mahomes at risk?
Should the Eagles have been more aggressive?
What is the Jets’ backup plan in QB?
Why are star defenders suddenly cheap?
What are the Patriots thinking in WR?
Is Denver’s move directed at QB?
What will the Saints do without DT?
What’s the Jets’ back-up plan if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t join them?
Let me start with this: I still think Rodgers will end up with the Jets. Each participant must be motivated to take a step. Chatter around the deal does not subside already weeks. There’s no other obvious place for a future Hall of Famer, especially if the Packers don’t want him in the NFC. It’s clear that Green Bay wants to move forward with Jordan Love as a starter, which would mean getting his 2024 fifth-year option by May.
However, as someone who once wrote an entire column about Antonio Brown being traded to the Bills, I know things can change. Smoke does not always equal fire. Most of the people I spoke to in the league expected this deal to be done, at least in name, before the legal intervention period began on Monday. Instead, it’s unclear if Rodgers has confirmed he’ll be playing anywhere in 2023, let alone the Jets.
While he waited, many of the other New York options went in the other direction. Derek Carr, who the organization says could become “first vote Hall of Fame member“If he signed a contract there, he went to New Orleans. Jimmy Garoppolo signed with the Raiders. Even minor options like Taylor Heinicke, Andy Dalton and Jets cult hero Mike White found contracts elsewhere.
So let’s say Rogers decides to retire. What could the Jets do next?