Aaron Rodgers could bring championship credentials to the Jets, but he might not bring much help.
The increasingly realistic possibility of the Packers trading Rodgers to the Jets is creating a buzz before free agency about the four-time MVP’s ability to recruit veteran teammates in the way that Tom Brady’s presence brought Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and others to the Buccaneers over the past three seasons.
Could the Jets, who would devote most of their unused salary-cap space to fitting Rodgers’ restructured contract, become a desirable discount destination for championship chasers by next week?
Likely not, according to a handful of NFL agents surveyed Thursday by The Post who shared the opinions that Rodgers is not Brady, New York is not Florida, and the Jets’ path to the Super Bowl is not as clear as the Buccaneers’ was when they replaced interception-prone Jameis Winston with Brady as a free agent in 2020.
“First, even though he’s a great quarterback, Rodgers doesn’t have as many strong relationships with other players around the league as Brady did,” one source said. “Second, he’s only won one Super Bowl to Brady’s seven, so if you start giving up other things in your deal, it’s not for the same level of certainty that you are going to win it all.
Aaron Rodgers and the Jets wouldn’t have the same free agency cache as Tom Brady did with the Buccaneers.AP
“Maybe the Jets are more appealing with Rodgers if all other things are equal.”
Rodgers’ Rolodex during tough times with the Packers led to the forced reacquisition of journeyman receiver Randall Cobb, which is not the same as Brady convincing Gronkowski to unretire or rounding up other Hall of Famers for a superteam.
High-impact free agents who fit the profile of veterans wanting to latch on to a top quarterback are linebackers Lavonte David and Bobby Wagner, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave or safety Jordan Poyer, none of which match up with the Jets’ biggest needs. The top available offensive linemen could land mega-offers elsewhere.
Tom Brady’s arrival in Tampa Bay came with several other notable NFL free agents.Getty Images
“If a team does it the right way, they can sign a player for less, but it would have to be the right person,” a second source said. “You are not signing a top free agent for significantly less. Older guys, for maybe a two-year window, which is not where the Jets are.”
Brady’s jump from 20 years with the Patriots to the Buccaneers also coincided with other factors that made it an easier sales pitch than Rodgers would face.
“Florida has no state income tax. If you are coming to live in New York or New Jersey and going to be in that tax bracket, that’s a different story,” a third source said. “Free-agent choices are never made in a vacuum: Familiarity, good weather, money, chance to win, it’s all there to discuss. If you had all those same apples-to-apples factors with Rodgers, it’s very attractive.”
The Buccaneers ended a 13-year playoff drought with Brady, who won his seventh Super Bowl in that first season by upsetting Rodgers in Green Bay. The Jets have the NFL’s longest active drought (12 years) but would have to survive an AFC gauntlet.
“If I’m talking with a client about taking less money to be in a win-now situation, why is the Jets with Rodgers better than the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes or the Bills with Josh Allen?” a fourth source said. “They surprised people last year and have good young players, but I don’t know that the Jets are close to a championship team once they get into the playoffs.”
Perhaps Brady’s strongest convincing argument for teammates to be unselfish was to follow his lead. Rogers can’t claim the same if he emerges with the same paycheck after the Jets trade draft assets for him.
“Brady always took less than the full market and was willing to be creative on salary cap hits,” a fifth source said. “It’s a lot easier to ask potential teammates to do the same when you set the example. If you’re making over $50 million per year, that request is going to ring hollow.”