Aaron Rodgers expects 'few-years partnership' with Jets

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who said he was "90% retired" before entering his celebrated darkness retreat in February, now is talking like he wants to play not one ... not two ... but at least three more years.

"This is going to be a few-years partnership," Rodgers said Tuesday, explaining his rationale for taking a historic $35 million pay cut in a newly restructured contract.

In a long-anticipated move, Rodgers reworked his contract last week. Basically, it's a three-year, $112.5 million deal that includes $75 million in fully guaranteed money for 2023 and 2024. On his previous contract, he was due to make about $110 million in guarantees.

Rodgers, 39, said his below-market deal is "a win-win-win for everybody. A win for me -- I get paid a ton of money. A win for the team -- we get a low cap number and deferred some cash. A win for other guys that we can bring in and sign. I have no complaints. I'm not missing it at all."

He wants the team to remain competitive in the future because he doesn't expect to be a one-and-done player for the Jets.

Rodgers provided a window into his thinking when asked about his inevitable induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The question came up because the Jets open the preseason Thursday night in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

"I want to play a few more years, and it'll be five after that," said the four-time NFL MVP, alluding to the mandatory waiting period for eligibility. "Who knows what's going to happen in eight or nine years? That's a long way off." Rodgers also said, "I'm taking it one year at a time. Yeah, I'd love to play as long as I can, as long as it's fun, as long as my body feels good, as long as they want me."

Under his new contract, Rodgers' salary cap charges are $8.9 million in 2023, $17.2 million in 2024 and $23.5 million in 2025. He said he wanted to provided cap flexibility so general manager Joe Douglas could pursue pricey players before the season and perhaps at the midseason trading deadline.

"It's about guys at the end of camp we could bring in," Rodgers said. "There's obviously more trades now that we see across the league -- bigger names at the deadline than maybe my first couple of years in the league."

Douglas is one of the most aggressive GMs in the league, having made more than 20 player trades since taking over in 2019. The biggest trade, of course, was for Rodgers, who arrived in late April. To facilitate the trade, he renegotiated his contract with the Green Bay Packers, pushing a $58.3 million option bonus (guaranteed) into 2024. That made his 2024 cap charge more than $100 million, necessitating another restructure.

Finalizing the new deal, he said, was no big deal.

"I feel great about what I'm making," he said. "It wasn't really a negotiation, like back and forth, me starting at 50 and them starting at 20 and meeting somewhere. It was an easy conversation, much of it between me and Joe, just talking about the state of the team and the opportunities that could be out there -- that are out there now, that could be out there."

Rodgers is now making $37.5 million per year, which is tied for the 12th-highest AAV among quarterbacks. He described it as a stress-free process, adding, "The only stress was maybe Mr. [Woody] Johnson wanting to get something done." As an appreciation, he gave the Jets' owner a "nice gift." Rodgers declined to say what kind of gift.

Coaches and teammates have lauded Rodgers for his unprecedented pay cut, saying it underscores his desire to win a championship. Tight end Tyler Conklin said, "The message we're getting is, he wants to win a Super Bowl."

Sources said the Jets remain in talks with free agent running back Dalvin Cook, who visited them Sunday. Rodgers said that he likes the current talent at running back but that "it's always exciting" when a team can add a player of Cook's caliber.

Rodgers won't play Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns. Former starter Zach Wilson, now the backup, will get the starting assignment. Rodgers, who hasn't played in a preseason game since 2018, said he wouldn't mind some action, perhaps in the final game of the preseason.