FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Aaron Rodgers walked into the Jets’ facility on Wednesday for his introductory information convention to applause from employees after they watched a montage of his highlights from his 18-year tenure with the Green Bay Packers.
Rodgers, the quarterback for whom the Jets traded this week after a prolonged negotiation course of, had landed in New Jersey the night time earlier than. On Wednesday morning, he attended conferences with Jets officers whereas barefoot, Coach Robert Saleh mentioned. Rodgers additionally walked previous a case holding the crew’s solely Super Bowl trophy, which the Jets received within the 1968 season, and mentioned he observed it was “getting lonely.”
Rodgers appeared relaxed and at dwelling throughout his first official day as a Jet, bringing optimism that one of many best quarterbacks of the fashionable period can restore success to a franchise within the NFL’s largest market. The Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2010, proudly owning the longest postseason drought in main North American males’s skilled sports activities, however the crew and Rodgers hope that his arrival — even towards the top of his profession — will finish that streak.
“I’m an outdated man, so I need to be a part of a crew that may win all of it, and I consider that it is a place the place we are able to get that executed,” mentioned the 39-year-old Rodgers.
The Jets and Packers formally agreed to commerce phrases on Wednesday after information of the deal broke on Monday. The Jets despatched the No. 13 total decide on this 12 months’s draft, in addition to two later-round picks and a conditional second-round decide within the 2024 NFL draft, in trade for Rodgers, the No. 15 decide and a later-round decide on this 12 months’s draft. The first spherical begins Thursday in Kansas City, Mo.
Rodgers received a Super Bowl, appeared in 4 different NFC championship video games and received the Most Valuable Player Award 4 instances whereas with the Packers. But he grew disgruntled with the franchise over the previous two seasons due to a perceived lack of enter over personnel choices, amongst different grievances. Rodgers alluded to his strained relationship with the Packers on Wednesday when he blamed poor cellphone reception at his dwelling as a purpose he had not communicated with Green Bay officers this low season.
After the Packers completed 8-9 final season and missed the playoffs, Rodgers contemplated retiring. A cadre of Jets executives in March — together with Saleh, the crew proprietor Woody Johnson and General Manager Joe Douglas — visited Rodgers in Malibu, Calif., and that dialog helped sway Rodgers to hitch the Jets, he mentioned.
“At that time, I felt like that is the place I used to be purported to be,” Rodgers mentioned. “I actually try to take heed to the indicators and synchronicities that the universe places in our face on daily basis, and this was principally the path that every part was pointing.”
Later in March, Rodgers appeared on former NFL punter Pat McAfee’s present and mentioned he supposed to play for the Jets. In the weeks after, Douglas and Brian Gutekunst, the Packers’ normal supervisor, publicly mentioned they needed to finalize a deal, however negotiations stretched over six weeks because the groups’ entrance places of work stalemated over compensation. Rodgers, although, mentioned he was assured the commerce would get executed.
“I believed it was going to occur all the time, it was only a matter of, I feel, ready one another out,” Rodgers mentioned. He added: “I consider there was some main synchronization to make this occur, however I’m excited concerning the alternative right here..”
Rodgers performed underneath Nathaniel Hackett, who was employed because the Jets’ offensive coordinator in January, for 3 seasons in Green Bay, and he mentioned their sturdy bond was one other promoting level for becoming a member of the Jets.
The Jets’ roster additionally contains final season’s offensive rookie of the 12 months, receiver Garrett Wilson, and the defensive rookie of the 12 months, cornerback Sauce Gardner — two gamers who had brazenly recruited Rodgers. Gardner and different gamers modified their social media profile photos to a photograph of Rodgers in faculty, and Gardner additionally videotaped himself burning a Packers cheesehead hat in Rodgers’ honor.
The Jets’ 2022 season began promisingly at 6-3, behind a stout working recreation and one of many league’s finest defenses. But inefficient play from quarterback Zach Wilson, the No. 2 total decide within the 2021 NFL draft, precipitated Saleh to bench him with seven video games left within the season. With that instability underneath middle and important accidents, most notably to rookie working again Breece Hall, the Jets completed 7-10 and missed the playoffs.
Rodgers mentioned he hopes to be a mentor to Zach Wilson, with whom he had a earlier friendship, and to be a frontrunner within the locker room. Saleh mentioned Rodgers needs to be a stabilizing presence, and that his alternative of the Jets was validation that the franchise is efficiently rebuilding itself.
“Obviously you’ll be able to argue that our arrow’s pointing up,” Saleh mentioned.
Rodgers mentioned he envisioned being with the Jets previous this season, however mentioned he didn’t need to give attention to the longer term. His agent, David Dunn, attended the information convention, and Rodgers mentioned he and the Jets would restructure his contract. But for nonetheless lengthy Rodgers stays a Jet, Johnson mentioned he can be content material.
“With no matter he needs to do, we’re good,” Johnson mentioned. “We’re so completely satisfied he is right here. This is transformative.”