FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Aaron Rodgers walked into the Jets’ facility on Wednesday for his introductory information convention to applause from staffers 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 staff’s solely Super Bowl trophy, which the Jets gained within the 1968 season, and mentioned he observed it was “getting lonely.”
Rodgers appeared relaxed and at residence throughout his first official day as a Jet, bringing optimism that one of many biggest quarterbacks of the fashionable period can restore success to a franchise within the N.F.L.’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 staff and Rodgers hope that his arrival — even towards the tip of his profession — will finish that streak.
“I’m an old guy, so I want to be part of a team that can win it all, and I believe that this is a place where we get that done,” 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 choose on this 12 months’s draft, in addition to two later-round picks and a conditional second-round choose within the 2024 N.F.L. draft, in alternate for Rodgers, the No. 15 choose and a later-round choose on this 12 months’s draft. The first spherical begins Thursday in Kansas City, Mo.
Rodgers gained a Super Bowl, appeared in 4 different N.F.C. championship video games and gained the Most Valuable Player Award 4 occasions 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 selections, amongst different grievances. Rodgers alluded to his strained relationship with the Packers on Wednesday when he blamed poor cellphone reception at his residence as a cause 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 staff proprietor Woody Johnson and General Manager Joe Douglas — visited Rodgers in Malibu, Calif., and that dialog helped sway Rodgers to affix the Jets, he mentioned.
“At that point, I felt like this is where I was supposed to be,” Rodgers mentioned. “I really try and listen to the signs and synchronicities that the universe puts in our face every day, and this was basically the direction that everything was pointing.”
Later in March, Rodgers appeared on the previous N.F.L. punter Pat McAfee’s present and mentioned he supposed to play for the Jets. In the weeks after, Douglas and Brian Gutekunst, the Packers’ common supervisor, publicly mentioned they wished 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 finished.
“I believed it was going to happen the entire time, it was just a matter of, I think, waiting each other out,” Rodgers mentioned. He added: “I believe there was some major synchronization to make this happen, but I’m excited about the opportunity 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 overtly recruited Rodgers. Gardner and different gamers modified their social media profile photos to a photograph of Rodgers in school, and Gardner additionally videotaped himself burning a Packers cheesehead hat in Rodgers’s honor.
The Jets’ 2022 season began promisingly at 6-3, behind a stout operating sport and one of many league’s finest defenses. But inefficient play from quarterback Zach Wilson, the No. 2 total choose within the 2021 N.F.L. draft, brought on Saleh to bench him with seven video games left within the season. With that instability underneath middle and important accidents, most notably to the rookie operating 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 pacesetter within the locker room. Saleh mentioned Rodgers must be a stabilizing presence, and that his selection of the Jets was validation that the franchise is efficiently rebuilding itself.
“Obviously you can 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 deal with the long run. His agent, David Dunn, attended the information convention, and Rodgers mentioned he and the Jets would restructure his contract. But for nevertheless lengthy Rodgers stays a Jet, Johnson mentioned he can be content material.
“With whatever he wants to do, we’re good,” Johnson mentioned. “We’re so happy he’s here. This is transformative.”
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