It’s not often you see an all-time great quarterback, playing close to the peak of his powers, completely uprooting himself to a new team with the specific aim of Super Bowl glory.
Well, that is unless you’re a fan of the Green Bay Packers or New York Jets.
The two teams have history of moving elderly signal-callers, with the Jets trading for Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre from the Packers in 2008.
And the two teams look set to do business again, with Aaron Rodgers the one potentially traveling from Wisconsin to New Jersey this time.
After a long, drawn-out process, the trade would see the 39-year-old become the Gang Green’s new starting quarterback in the hopes of being the final jigsaw piece in the team’s Super Bowl aspirations.
So what could Rodgers bring to the Jets?
Making them pay
The clips of Rodgers at the 2005 NFL draft have become part of the sport’s folklore.
A baby-faced Rodgers sits in the green room amongst the other college graduates and draft hopefuls. As a California kid and with the San Francisco 49ers holding the first overall pick in sore need of a quarterback, Rodgers was confident on where he would be playing.
But to the surprise of many, the 49ers selected Alex Smith and Rodgers was forced to wait as names were called to the podium, none of which were his.
As picks went by, Rodgers could be seen getting increasingly despondent until finally, with the 24th pick, the Packers handed their slip in with his name on it.
Even though Rodgers had finally been drafted into the NFL, it was a double-edged sword for the California Golden Bears graduate as he became back-up to Favre – a position he held for two years.
After Favre eventually left to the Jets, Rodgers was finally giving the keys to the franchise and he never looked back.
Rodgers led the Packers to a Super Bowl title in his third season at the helm and has won four MVP titles as he became one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. He’s also set countless records for his accuracy and deadliness over the years.
Despite all the personal successes and winning records, Rodgers and the Packers failed to win more championship rings, wracking up numerous painful playoff losses.
In recent years, Rodgers has voiced his creeping dissatisfaction with events in Green Bay, from the lack of offensive weapons he’s had to work with to the drafting of his heir-apparent, Jordan Love, in the first round of the 2020 draft.
Rodgers has hinted at retirement on more than one occasion, and even visited a darkness retreat this offseason as he sought clarity on his future.
On Wednesday, with free agency opening, Rodgers finally told the world that he intends to play for the Jets, despite admitting he was 90% sure he would retire as a Packer when he entered the retreat.
“And also the reality of situation – it is what it is – the Packers would like to move on. They’ve let me know that in so many words. They’ve let other people know that in direct words,” Rodgers said during his regular appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.”
“And because I still have that fire and I want to play and I would like to play in New York, it’s just a matter of getting that done at this point.”
Knowhow, experience, excellence
Rodgers might turn 40 in December, but as Tom Brady has shown age is only a number when you’re an elite quarterback.
Rodgers showed that he’s still one last season – despite a slight drop from his usual higher standards in a disappointing overall year for the Packers.
After a poor start to the season, Rodgers lead the team on a four-game winning streak from a 4-8 record to help set up a Week 18 game with the Detroit Lions for a spot in the playoffs – the team lost 20-16 to end the Packers’ season.
Although his ability to avoid on-rushing defenders might have diminished as he’s gotten older, Rodgers more than makes up for it with his precision and canniness before the snap, while he has the knack of maneuvering defenses to his will.
And for the Jets, having a reliable, proficient quarterback will be a big upgrade from recent years.
The team’s 2021 No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson has flattered to deceive so far, Sam Darnold lasted only a couple of years before being shipped out and any other fill-ins haven’t set the world on fire.
Under general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh, the Jets have built up an extremely talented roster, with the quarterback position arguably the missing link.
After last year’s excellent draft – both cornerback Sauce Gardner and wide receiver Garrett Wilson won rookie of the year awards while running back Breece Hall was putting down his own case for consideration for the award before a season-ending knee injury – the Jets have plenty of young talent.
And with the collection of veterans it has – such as Quinnen Williams, D.J. Reed and C.J. Mosley – including a stacked offensive line and an explosive defense, it sees itself as just one piece away from challenging for a championship title.
Older quarterbacks moving close to the end of their careers isn’t unheard of – Brady swapped New England for Tampa Bay in 2020 at the age of 42, winning a Super Bowl title in his first season with the Buccaneers as a 43-year-old.
Will Rodgers bring the franchise – known for their lack of success and time spent in the wilderness – their first ring since 1968 or will he struggle to settle in a new environment?
One thing is for sure: we know Rodgers likes playing in green.