Jets appear all-in on Aaron Rodgers despite Lamar Jackson trade request

PHOENIX — On Monday morning, quarterback Lamar Jackson announced on Twitter that he requested a trade from the Ravens on March 2.

The Jets technically still need a starting quarterback on their roster as they continue to talk to the Packers regarding a trade for Aaron Rodgers.

During his media availability during the NFL Owners Meeting Monday morning, Jets coach Robert Saleh didn’t provide any updates on the team’s quarterback search or on potentially acquiring Rodgers.

“To be honest, I got nothing on that guys,” Saleh said. “Obviously, he [Rodgers] is still on another team.”

After an abysmal 2022 season in which they used four different quarterbacks, the Jets went into the offseason looking for a veteran starting quarterback. Gang Green selected Zach Wilson No. 2 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he has struggled with accuracy and suffered multiple injuries during his first two years in the league.

In 22 career starts, Wilson has thrown for 4,022 yards, 15 touchdowns and 18 interceptions while completing 55.2% of his passes. After finishing 25th in total offense and 29th in points scored, the Jets changed coordinators this offseason as they replaced Mike LaFleur with Nathaniel Hackett.

When the Jets hired Hackett, many considered this a sign that they were targeting Rodgers in a potential trade with the Packers. Derek Carr visited the Jets in New Jersey in February after the Raiders released him. Carr also spoke with the Jets at the NFL Combine earlier this month, along with the Panthers and Saints.

Reportedly, the Jets were Carr’s top choice, but he decided to sign a  four-year, $150 million contract with the Saints that included $100 million in total guarantees when it became apparent the Jets were waiting to see if they could obtain Rodgers. Not long after Carr signed with the Saints, the Jets brass flew to California to meet with Rodgers after receiving permission from the Packers as they’re set to move on to Jordan Love.

Since then, Rodgers has announced his intention to play for the Jets next season, but they reportedly continue to be at a stalemate regarding to trade compensation. Reportedly, Green Bay wants at least a first-round pick for Rodgers, while the Jets have been reluctant to do so up to this point.

“You’d always like to, it takes two to tango,” Saleh said about having the quarterback situation resolved to this point. “So it’s just the process, respect the process and whenever it gets done.”

“I mentioned yesterday, you know, we’ve come a long way in two years and to have a guy of his [Rodgers] caliber, but really, there’s a lot of guys that want to come here and play and there’s a lot of excitement around the organization and it’s cool thing to be a part of.

“So, hopefully, we can continue to move forward and capitalize.”

There’s still an opportunity for the Jets to acquire Jackson, but it doesn’t appear the team will pivot in that direction even after he requested a trade. In mid-March, Baltimore placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, who represents himself. Because of that, Jackson can sign an offer sheet with another team.

If no other team offers Jackson a deal, he would earn $32.4 million this season if he plays under the tag. If Jackson were to sign an offer sheet with one of the 31 other clubs and the Ravens did not match, Baltimore would receive two first-round picks.

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There would be a benefit to the Jets acquiring Jackson over Rodgers: time. Jackson turned 26 in January and is in the prime of his career, while Rodgers will be 40 in December and could play for only one or two more seasons.

Last season, Jackson passed for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 12 games. But his durability has come under scrutiny.

Jackson has missed 11 games the last two seasons because of various injuries. In 2021, Jackson missed the final five games of the year because of an ankle injury. Last season, Jackson suffered a PCL sprain that kept him out of the Ravens final six games, including their wild-card playoff loss to the Bengals.

Rodgers also knows Hackett’s system as he was previously the Packers offensive coordinator from 2019-21 before leaving to be the Broncos head coach last season. Denver fired Hackett on Dec. 26 with two games left in the year.

With their offseason program beginning April 17, the Jets don’t appear to be in any rush to finalize their quarterback situation.

“If there’s a great rapport with the coordinator, there’s really no urgency, you know,” Saleh said. “The quarterback is good if he understands the system if the quarterback knows it.

“It is just a matter of just refining skills, you know and all of that stuff. But you know, so there’s no hurry on that.”

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