The long-awaited trade of future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets has finally been announced. This is clearly a historical day for the Packers and the Jets and will be a turning point for both franchises.
Here are five things that changed for the Green Bay Packers after the Aaron Rodgers trade:
- The Packers Move Up in the First Round
As part of the trade, the Packers exchanged first-round picks with the Jets, moving up from the 15th overall pick to the 13th selection. This is a big deal for the Packers for several reasons.
It allows the Packers to jump past the New England Patriots who have the 14th pick and the Jets who are now at 15. Both those teams are in the market for offensive tackles. If the Packers are looking to select a particular tackle in the first round, this gives them an edge over those teams.
It also gives them a better chance of landing top wide receiver prospect Jaxson Smith-Njigba or any other single player they may be targeting in the first round.
In his pre-draft press conference on Monday, GM Brian Gutekunst explained he made the move from 15 to 13 because, “I’d be doing it because I thought it was important.”
The Packers should also get more value for the 13th pick if they choose to trade back and add even more picks (or a better pick or player in return). This is a nice win for the Packers.
- The Drama Is Over
It’s been a long, ongoing drama for the Packers organization for years now but especially since March 15th when Rodgers announced he wanted to play next year for the Jets.
The uncertainty and the speculation are all over. So is the tension between Rodgers and the Packers front office that has been ongoing for years now. There are plenty of arguments to be made about which side is more at fault and honestly, both sides are partially responsible and could have handled things differently, but that’s all over now.
Whatever the Packers are going to be post-Rodgers, it will hopefully be without the tension and drama that has surrounded the team in recent seasons.
- Jordan Love Officially Takes Over
The Jordan Love Era now officially begins in Green Bay. The former Utah State star will be the starting quarterback in Week 1 as long as he’s healthy.
There will almost certainly be growing pains just like Rodgers had in 2008 when he took over for Brett Favre. But the key for the Packers is that Love shows the potential to be a quality starting quarterback in this league and that he’s better at the end of the 2023 season than he was at the start of it.
Gutekunst addressed this at his press conference. “We’re really excited where Jordan can go,” Gutekunst told reporters. “He needs to play. Having him sit another year I think would have really delayed where we’re going and what we’re trying to build.”
For the first time in 15 years, the Packers will not have Rodgers under center and there is uncertainty as to how good their quarterback can be.
- More Flexibility to Get Weapons for Love
As a result of the trade, Gutekunst now has more ammunition to surround Love with talent and get him some help. The Packers have clear needs at tight end and wide receiver with long-term needs at offensive tackle and running back on offense.
The Packers now have moved up two spots in the first round and have two picks in the second round this year to address those and other needs.
The 2023 NFL Draft is not full of elite players, but the true strength of the draft is its depth, and the strength of the draft is a large group of nearly evenly ranked players in the second and third rounds.
The Packers now have four picks on the first two days of the draft. They can use those picks to add players, they can package some of them to get one elite player they really want to target, or they can trade one or more of them to move back and add more picks in the second or third rounds to get more bites at the apple.
Regardless of how the Packers choose to attack it, they now have more ammunition and more flexibility to try to improve the team.
- Cap Situation Improves Drastically In 2024
The Packers will have a large dead cap hit this year because of the poorly structured contract they signed Rodgers to last offseason and the fact that they kept restructuring contracts and kicking the cap hit down the road to try to win another title with Rodgers the past few seasons.
According to overthecap.com, the Packers will have more than $57 million in dead cap money on the books in 2023 with Rodgers counting for more than $40.3 million of it.
But after this season, Rodgers’ dead cap hit will be completely off the books and the Packers will have another second-round pick or first-round pick to continue to add talent to build around Love or in the worst-case scenario to choose his replacement.
The Packers will be free of the dead cap money that has been weighing the franchise down the past few offseasons. That gives the Packers more hope for the future.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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