The Aaron Rodgers NFL saga ended this offseason after the Green Bay Packers traded him to the New York Jets, but according to a report from FOX Sports, there was some interest from another AFC East squad.
According to the report relayed on Twitter by Dov Kleiman of Brobible, the New England Patriots made an offer to the Packers for Rodgers, and Rodgers' agent rejected it.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) June 16, 2023
However, on The Pat McAfee Show, long-time NFL executive and consultant for the Patriots Michael Lombardi responded to this report saying, "I don't get the sense that the Patriots were in on Aaron Rodgers... Let's just say I kind of have a sense on what they're thinking in that building."
"I don't get the sense that the Patriots were in on Aaron Rodgers..
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) June 16, 2023
Speaking of the report's validity, is it possible that the Patriots checked in? Sure, but the timeline gets a little muddy as they brought in Bill O'Brien in January 2023, and Rodgers was quite definitive in his stance to head to the Jets in March.
So, sure, the Patriots could've reached out in that period, especially with the issues surrounding quarterback Mac Jones, including him reaching out to the Alabama Crimson Tide coaching staff for how to handle the inept offensive coaching plans the Patriots deployed last season.
Who knows, maybe the report of the Patriots trading their pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers to jump the Jets to mess with them has more legitimacy. During the draft, imagine Belichick thinking, "Oh, Aaron didn't want to come here? Well, let's trade with the Steelers so they can take an offensive tackle away from them."
That would be excellent—I'm sure there's a "mic'd up" of that out there somewhere.
Anyway, let's operate under the assumption that this report is legitimate. Why wouldn't Rodgers want to go to New England?
The Patriots Ecosystem is Not Compatible With Rodgers
One reason the Patriots may not be the ideal spot for Rodgers is how the Patriots system is set up.
Even with Tom Brady on the roster, it seemed as though head coach Bill Belichick was still the captain of the ship. Based on Rodgers' demeanor from appearing on The Pat McAfee Show and watching how he interacts live, he seems like the type of player who knows and understands his value and would probably prefer a more collaborative effort, which could be possible with New England, but far less likely, especially with O'Brien on board and wanting to establish his system.
It's been discussed that Rodgers is heavily involved with offensive meetings with the Jets, and, of course, their offensive coordinator is Nathaniel Hackett, a coordinator that Rodgers had a lot of success with.
While Rodgers more than likely respects Belichick to the highest degree (who wouldn't?), it would likely be a clash of "control" or offensive system implementation.
We've seen coaching staffs move out of the way to a degree for a superstar, as we saw with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Peyton Manning with the Denver Broncos.
It's not clear if that would happen with Rodgers in New England.
The Patriots Receiver Situation Isn't Great
The talk of Rodgers' tenure with the Packers was the lack of receivers he was given throughout his career. We all know that the Packers haven't drafted a receiver in the first round since the early 2000s, and as time passed, Rodgers and the Packers offensive felt that impact. They benefitted greatly from second-round players like Davante Adams, Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, and Jordy Nelson, and later-round selections like James Jones, but the well dried up after a while, as we saw in his last season with the team.
In going to the Patriots, Rodgers would be working with the best head coach of all time, but the receivers are arguably worse than the Packers 2022-23 group of receivers.
Here's their current group of receivers, per Ourlands:
- DeVante Parker
- Kendrick Bourne
- JuJu Smith-Schuster
- Tyquan Thornton
- Kayshon Boutte (drafted in 2023)
- Hunter Henry
- Mike Gesicki
Is that better than the Packers group? If so, not by much.
The Jets wide receiver depth chart is much deeper and more talented than both squads.
Did Rodgers Make the Right Choice?
In short, absolutely, yes.
The Jets are simply a better football team than the Patriots right now, up and down the roster. Of course, working with Belichick will elevate anyone, but there's arguably no group of players on the Patriots that are better than the Jets other than some pass-rushing options, maybe.
In going to the Jets, Rodgers gets more control of the offense and works with an offensive coordinator in Hackett, who may not have panned out with the Denver Broncos but will succeed with the Jets and Rodgers.
Rodgers has been motivated this offseason, appearing in offseason workouts and getting on the same page with reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year and wide receiver Garrett Wilson.
The Jets and Rodgers will be better this season—he wouldn't have the success that's about to happen if he landed with the Patriots.
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