Aaron Rodgers Has The Jets In A Headlock
4:17 PM EDT on March 14, 2023
As he has navigated deeper into his personal baroque phase, Aaron Rodgers has presented some unique evaluative challenges. From one play to the next, he can still look like the greatest quarterback ever to play the position. For months at a time, he will still look rather startlingly like Aaron Rodgers, despite being 39 years old and having started his first NFL games when George W. Bush was still president. But, in ways that are new and which cannot entirely be chalked up to the podcast and streaming video content he consumes in his leisure time, the intensity with which Rodgers has been Being Aaron Rodgers—mainly his uniquely salty strain of personal wackness and taste for the inscrutably and effortfully epic—has become an issue.
Rodgers is not the first great quarterback to be a bit of a kook at baseline and challenging to be around as a general rule. In retrospect the decade-plus during which Rodgers pulled off a highly public image as the chillest possible version of the kind of hyper-competitive psychopath that NFL quarterbacks generally tend to be has to stand as one of his career's greatest achievements. That is pretty well by the boards now, though; his legacy is secure, although "turned out to be significantly weirder than Philip Rivers, just as a person" is part of that legacy. Just a year removed from the second of two consecutive MVP seasons Rodgers has finally reached the part of his career where the fundamental human challenge of Dealing With His Shit is part of not just his own public image, but how he's valued in the sport.
More to the point, it appears to have finally exhausted the patience of the only team he's ever played for. The scarcity of that talent is why the New York Jets are eager to take a chance on making him their quarterback during the season in which Rodgers will turn 40 years old; the rest of the equation is why the Green Bay Packers are open to a deal that would make that happen. That deal has been reported to be very close to done for some time now, with Rodgers's own final approval being the last remaining obstacle to clear. Knowing what we now know about Rodgers, it should come as no surprise that this isn't just a matter of him doing a couple of quick-and-dirty web searches for "soundbaths Lyndhurst, New Jersey" or "location for 'raw water' near Teterboro Airport" or "diarrhea cleanse in Honduras best price" and then reworking his contract somewhat.
While Rodgers has not had any public comment on the deal, ESPN's Andrew Brandt reported that Rodgers would like the Jets to ... do some things for him, to show that they care.
The scoopsmith syntax of that post makes the whole thing sound faintly dirty, but it turns out that Rodgers's demands are in fact even more perverse than Brandt's "doing things" that they "are no longer willing to do" formulation suggests. ESPN's Dianna Russini's further reporting suggested that the specific fetish Rodgers wants honored is "the experience of making a waiver wire pickup in a 12-team fantasy football league."
This insistence that the Jets engage in a frenzied, high-stakes round of Remembering Some Guys in order to demonstrate how serious they are about building around him is unquestionably a power move on Rodgers's part. That the Jets are doing it—the team is reportedly "closing in on" a deal with Lazard and pursuing Cobb—suggests that they are indeed serious about getting this trade done. It is worth noting, here, that the Jets already have a core of promising young receivers, and that it would be extremely difficult to justify Garrett Wilson or Elijah Moore getting elbowed out of the frame by some veterans whose main qualification is that they already know Aaron Rodgers's weird little hand signals. But now that it has been noted, it can be safely disregarded; neither side seems especially concerned about it.
What is left, besides the Jets hammering out the details on a suitable free agent contract for Marcedes Lewis, is mostly waiting. In the broadest sense, this is a matter of waiting for Rodgers to decide that he has seen enough to believe that a franchise he has not traditionally taken very seriously is sufficiently serious about its pursuit of him. That decision will be contingent upon smaller ones. How long will Rodgers be on that diarrhea cleanse in Honduras, and also how closely supervised is that kind of thing? Also will he be satisfied by the Jets bringing in these familiar faces, or will he demand that they lock up Donald Driver for three guaranteed years, and lay out a role for Jordy Nelson? The question of what will satisfy Aaron Rodgers was already a complicated one; when a man spends two years in open public combat with the germ theory of disease, it is clear that the familiar answers will not suffice. Now all the Jets need to do is figure out how to get to yes with one of the most reliably disagreeable people in football. If that means bringing in James Jones and Geronimo Allison, so be it.