The New York Jets have had conversations with the Green Bay Packers and with quarterback Aaron Rodgers this week regarding a potential trade of the four-time MVP to the Jets, according to sources.
A contingent of Jets team officials, including owner Woody Johnson, general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, flew to California on Tuesday to meet in person with Rodgers, sources said. It's unclear whether the meeting will ultimately result in a trade, however.
The Jets' contingent arrived at 12:49 p.m. PT at the airport in Camarillo, California, not far from Rodgers' home. Rodgers was seen greeting the Jets' officials, according to social media posts from the airport. Johnson & Co. were expected to fly back on Tuesday night.
When news of the California trip broke, two players on the Jets took to social media to recruit Rodgers to the team. Tweeting at Rodgers, cornerback Sauce Gardner said, "I promise if you become a Jet, I won't pick you off in practice & I'll burn the cheesehead" -- a reference to the cheesehead he wore to celebrate the Jets' win last season at Lambeau Field.
Running back Breece Hall also pitched Rodgers, tweeting, "Don't mind me...just manifesting @AaronRodgers12."
Rodgers still has not made any announcements about what he intends to do this coming season. It's still possible he decides to retire or to stay in Green Bay. But if he still wants to play and he and the Packers agree it's time for him to play somewhere else, the Jets appear to be a realistic option.
If the Jets are speaking directly with Rodgers, they and he would have had to secure the Packers' permission, as he is still under contract with Green Bay. So, the discussions Rodgers is having with the Jets indicate at least some openness on the part of the Packers to the idea of trading him there.
But there are potential complications to a deal, including Rodgers' huge and complicated contract, that might have to be addressed to make sure both teams would be in compliance with the salary cap by the start of the league year next Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.
Rodgers is under contract through 2024 for $108.8 million. Technically, the contract, signed last March, runs through 2026, but 2025 and 2026 are considered "dummy" years for cap purposes. His deal includes a fully guaranteed $59.5 million this season, with $58.3 million coming in the form of an option bonus, payable before the start of the regular season.
Because his bonus money is prorated, Rodgers wouldn't hobble the Jets' cap. He would count $15.8 million in 2023 and $32.5 million in 2024, cap-friendly for a player of his stature.
The Packers would get hit with a $40.3 million "dead" charge in 2023 -- nearly $9 million more than he'd count if he were on the roster.
The Jets expressed interest in Derek Carr, meeting with him twice, but they regarded him as a fallback option. Rodgers always has been their No. 1 priority in the quarterback market, sources said. Carr wound up agreeing to a four-year contract worth up to $150 million with the New Orleans Saints.
The Jets have been focused on Rodgers from the start of the offseason, when owner Woody Johnson told reporters he would be "absolutely" willing to make a large investment in a quarterback. Team officials have made it clear in recent weeks that Zach Wilson, drafted No. 2 overall in 2021, isn't considered a primary starting option. Their hope is to develop him in a backup role.
ESPN's Rich Cimini and Rob Demovsky contributed to this report.