By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday he intends to play for the New York Jets in 2023 after 18 seasons in Green Bay and the four-time NFL MVP quarterback is waiting for the Packers to trade him.
The 39-year-old Rodgers, speaking during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” on YouTube and Sirius XM, said he believes the Packers want to move on and make 2020 first-round draft pick Jordan Love their starting quarterback.
“At this point, as I sit here, I think since Friday I’ve made it clear that my intention was to play and my intention was to play for the New York Jets,” Rodgers said. “I haven’t been holding anything up at this point. It’s been compensation the Packers are trying to get for me, kind of digging their heels in.”
Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy has acknowledged the team granted the Jets permission to talk to Rodgers, the face of the franchise since Hall of Famer Brett Favre was traded to the Jets in 2008. The Jets sent a contingent that reportedly included owner Woody Johnson, coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas to Rodgers’ home in Southern California last week.
Rodgers expressed his appreciation for his 18 seasons in Green Bay but added that it’s time for the Packers “to do the right thing.”
“I have nothing but love in my heart for every Packer fan and everybody who works in the organization,” Rodgers said. “My life is better because of my time in Green Bay. But we’ve just got to look at the reality. They want to move on. They don’t want me to come back and that’s fine. They’re ready to move on with Jordan. That’s awesome. Jordan’s going to be a great player.”
The Packers declined to comment on Rodgers’ remarks, which follow days of speculation that his time in Green Bay might be done.
Murphy spoke of Rodgers in the past tense while discussing the quarterback’s future with Green Bay TV station WBAY last week.
“Very few players play for only one team,” Murphy told WBAY. “Obviously Brett had a great career. Aaron had a great career here. Regardless of what happens, Aaron will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’ll be in our Hall of Fame. We’ll bring him back, retire his number. This is just one of the things that we go through as a team. We want to try to achieve something that’s good for both Aaron and us.”
In a separate interview that aired Friday during a broadcast of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association girls basketball championships on Green Bay TV station WCWF, Murphy said he would honor a trade request if Rodgers made one.
“It’s trying to find what he wants and what we want, and hopefully we can find a win-win situation,” Murphy said.
Rodgers had said at the end of the 2022 season that he would need time to decide whether to return to the Packers, request a trade or retire. He said Wednesday he had discussions with Packers officials regarding his future shortly after the team wrapped up a 8-9 season that ended a string of three straight NFC North titles.
“Everything that I was told in the week that I was in Green Bay was: ‘Take as long as you want and we want you to retire a Packer. If you want to come back and play, obviously the door is wide open,’” Rodgers said. “That was the information I was going on.”
As he pondered his future, Rodgers spent multiple days last month on a isolation retreat in Oregon, where he said he stayed alone in a room in total darkness.
Rodgers said he was 90% leaning toward retirement at the time of the retreat. When he was done with it, he said, he noticed a difference in the Packers’ approach toward his future with the franchise.
“Now when I came out of the darkness, something changed,” Rodgers said. “I’m not exactly sure what that was, but something changed. … I realized there had been a little bit of a shift. I heard from multiple people that I trust around the league — players mostly –— that there was some shopping going on, that they were interested in actually moving me.”
Rodgers said that made him realize the Packers probably didn’t want him back.
“It was clear to me at that point, that although the Packers were going to say the right thing publicly, that they were ready to move on,” he said. “I don’t know what changed that or what moved that — if they just said, ‘Hey, we need to make a decision here because he hasn’t made a decision here yet.’ Again, there’s no victims here. I’m not sitting here as a victim.”
The Jets’ interest in Rodgers has been apparent as they seek to end the NFL’s longest active playoff drought. They lost their final six games while going 7-10 last season and haven’t reached the postseason since 2010.
Their new offensive coordinator is Nathaniel Hackett, who earned raves from Rodgers while coordinating Green Bay’s offense from 2019-21.
“There’s a lot of reasons why the Jets are attractive,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “But there’s one coach that has meant as much to me as any coach I’ve ever had. And he happens to be the coordinator there.”
Saleh and Johnson both expressed their interest in adding a veteran quarterback to a roster that already features one of the league’s best defenses.
If Rodgers ends up with the Jets, it would be a case of history repeating itself.
The Packers sent a soon-to-be 39-year-old Favre to the Jets in 2008, a move that ushered in Rodgers’ arrival as Green Bay’s starting quarterback. Favre won three MVPs with Green Bay during his Hall of Fame career.
Rodgers backed up Favre for three seasons after the Packers selected him out of California with the 24th overall pick in the 2005 draft. Love has backed up Rodgers for three seasons since the Packers traded up to take the former Utah State quarterback with the 26th overall pick.
Rodgers’ future has been the subject of speculation ever since the Packers selected Love. Rodgers acknowledged the selection caught him by surprise. One year later, he skipped the Packers’ mandatory minicamp in a standoff with Packers management.
But the two sides eventually patched things up.
Rodgers signed a contract extension with the Packers last year after producing a second straight MVP season.
When he was asked last June at the Packers’ mandatory minicamp whether he expected to finish his career in Green Bay, Rodgers replied, “Yes. Definitely.”
Those plans apparently changed after a 2022 season in which he had his lowest passer rating as a starter (91.1) and threw 12 interceptions, his highest total since 2008. Now Rodgers believes his time in Green Bay is done.
“Coming to this reality has been really bittersweet,” Rodgers said. “I was drafted by Green Bay. I … love that city, love that organization. Always going to have love for that organization. But the facts are right now they want to move on, and now so do I.”
AP Pro Football Writer Dennis Waszak contributed to this report.
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