By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — General manager Joe Douglas kicked off the New York Jets’ pre-draft news conference by having a young fan answer the first few questions from reporters.
Kyle Stickles, a Make-A-Wish recipient from Ghent, New York, was sitting between Douglas and assistant GM Rex Hogan when he was asked who the 15th overall pick by his favorite team should be.
“I mean, we definitely don’t need a quarterback,” 13-year-old Kyle said, smiling.
You’ve got that right, kid.
The Jets agreed on a deal Monday to acquire Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers, a franchise-altering move that brings the four-time NFL MVP to a team that has the league’s longest postseason drought at 12 years.
It came more than six weeks after the 39-year-old Rodgers said during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” on YouTube and SiriusXM on March 15 he intended to continue his playing career — and for the Jets.
Douglas called it an “honor” to have a player of Rodgers’ caliber to want to play for the franchise and credited the culture coach Robert Saleh has cultivated during his two-plus seasons with the team.
Negotiations went on for several weeks between Douglas and Packers GM Brian Gutekunst before the sides agreed on terms.
“Obviously, a long time in the making,” Douglas said. “There’s still some i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed to ultimately finalize everything, but it was a lot of conversations with Brian. …
“I can’t thank him enough for the open dialogue we’ve had and ultimately being able to get what we feel is a historic trade for this franchise.”
Rodgers posted a farewell to Green Bay on Instagram Tuesday. The post was accompanied by 10 photos from his Packers tenure.
“I’m not sure it’s possible to fully express the gratitude that I have to the (at)packers, our incredible fans, the state of Wisconsin, the thousands of players that I crossed paths with, the incredible men and women who work for the organization, and the amazing people who I got to meet along the way, in one post with 10 pictures, but I hope you read this and feel my heart and soul, filled with love, joy, and peace about my time in green and gold,” Rodgers said. “I grew up in Green Bay, drafted at 21, fell in love with the game, met some lifelong friends, and take with me memories that will last a lifetime.”
Rodgers also offered thanks to Packers fans, the guys who played alongside him in Green Bay and to team officials and employees.
“To the fans, THANK YOU, you made every run out of the tunnel special, every home game magical, and it was my honor to be your QB,” Rodgers said.
“This is not the end for us, I will see you again Green Bay. You’ll always have my heart.”
According to a person with knowledge of the trade who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the teams have not announced the deal, the Jets will receive Rodgers, the No. 15 overall pick and a fifth-rounder this year from the Packers. In exchange, Green Bay will get the 13th overall selection, a second-rounder, a sixth-rounder and a conditional 2024 second-round pick that could become a first-rounder if Rodgers plays 65% of New York’s plays this season.
Some fans and media have said that’s a hefty haul for Rodgers, whom Douglas wouldn’t say has committed to playing past this season — but the GM didn’t appear concerned about that.
“We’re comfortable with how this deal is shaped,” Douglas said.
The trade moves the Jets down two spots in the first round, where New York is likely to target an offensive lineman.
“That was probably one of the last things that was agreed to in the deal,” Douglas said.
Kyle, for the record, would like his favorite team to select either Ohio State’s Paris Johnson or Georgia’s Broderick Jones — two of the top projected offensive tackles, along with Tennessee’s Darnell Wright and Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski.
“We needed to have 13 players we were really excited about,” Douglas said. “Now we need to have 15 players we’re really excited about, and I feel comfortable that we have that.”
Meanwhile, among the things the Jets still have to tackle is fitting Rodgers’ contract — he’s due a fully guaranteed $59.5 million this year — under their salary cap. Douglas said there has been some “positive discussions” with Rodgers’ agent as far as restructuring that deal to make it more cap-friendly for New York.
Rodgers was the league MVP in 2020 and 2021, but didn’t perform as well last season while playing with a broken right thumb. He had his lowest passer rating as a starter (91.1) and threw 12 interceptions, his highest total since 2008.
“You still have someone that maybe didn’t play at 100% throughout the year, but still performed at a high level,” Douglas said. “Obviously it’s an adjustment when you’re somewhere for 18 years, but we feel like with the people that we have in place, he can get comfortable quickly.”
Douglas reiterated a few times the trade hasn’t been completed, but understands the impact a player like Rodgers will have on a young team that finished 7-10 last season and on a six-game skid.
“I think any time you add a player of Aaron’s caliber, it’s going to raise the level of everyone,” the GM said. “There’s going to be a standard that needs to be met.”
NOTES: Kyle will announce the Jets’ first-round pick on stage at the NFL draft in Kansas City on Thursday night. Kyle was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, in his left tibia in 2020. After undergoing chemotherapy treatments in 2021, he is able to walk again. … Douglas paid condolences to the family of Matt Capogrosso, the team’s longtime director of football systems who died this month, and the family of Jets executive vice president and CEO Brian Friedman, whose son Matthew died recently. … Douglas is “optimistic” about talks with the agent of DT Quinnen Williams, who’s not attending voluntary workouts while seeking a contract extension.