PHOENIX — As the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets hammer out the final sticking points in the deal for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a pressure point looms in the talks — and it’s coming fast.
Mark April 17th in your calendars.
This is the date Green Bay begins its off-season exercise program. And if Rodgers is still on the Packers’ roster, the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association dictates that the Packers not allow him to be removed from the team’s facility once practices begin. Which means if Rodgers wants to make things extra awkward as trade talks continue – and he’s not on good terms with the Green Bay front office at the moment – he can simply choose to turn up.
The possibility raises two questions: Would Rodgers really make such an aggressive move to put this kind of pressure on the talks? And will the Packers leave the talks long enough to give him a chance? There’s a chance we could find out, though, that at the NFL’s annual owners’ meetings this week, Packers coach Matt LaFleur danced around the issue of Rodgers’ potential attendance at workouts if the deal wasn’t completed by April 17th.
“It’s all in between [Jets general manager Joe Douglas] And [Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst]LaFleuer said. “I’ll leave that to them. We’ll train whoever is on our list.”
Individuals involved in the trade talks were a little less vague about what the workout program meant, though one source called the April 17 workout start date an “artificial deadline,” with the next major moment coming after that the week before the NFL Draft.
“the [Packers] Starting rehearsals can definitely make it awkward if it gets to that point, the source said. “Maybe. We’ll see.”
As of Tuesday, there was some optimism that a deal was getting closer and closer between the two sides. A second source in the talks said the “next week or so” window was a realistic time frame for canceling the deal. The latest terms discussed involved the Jets sending a pair of second-round picks in the 2023 and 2024 drafts to the Packers in exchange for Rodgers. The 2024 selection will include a team performance escalator applied to which Jets can advance that selection to the first round. The sticking point in the deal, however, was that, as of Tuesday, the Jets would require some kind of draft pick to “give back” in 2025 if Rodgers refused to play after the 2023 season.
The row over that aspect has hampered the trade discussions, which are now entering their third week and sliding into more publicly difficult territory. The latest twist came this week, when Packers general manager Brian Gutkunst hit back at Rodgers’ claim earlier this month that the Packers began buying him for a trade while he was on a darkened retreat. Gutekunst suggested there was more to that story, alleging that Rodgers had not responded to overtures from the Green Bay front office to have a discussion about his future plans and the direction of the franchise. Rodgers also confirmed earlier this month on “The Pat McAfee Show” that the Packers initially told him to take as much time as he needed to make a decision about his future.
This ‘said/they said’ about who failed to communicate and create an impasse is part of what weighs heavily on the coming days and the possibility that Rodgers could up the ante by attending training. But while this situation represents a crossroads, it is not unprecedented in recent history. The San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo reached another offseason agreement that effectively kept him out of the team’s facility while the two sides tried to find another offseason business partner. That trade suitor never materialized, which led to Garoppolo taking a salary cut to stay with San Francisco in 2022 and then return to the team for training camp.
At the moment, there is no indication that Rodgers and the Packers have talked about this type of deal. This means that as the trade date approaches, so does the calendar in off-season workouts – leaving Green Bay to face that this whole issue could get messier in just a matter of weeks.
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