The New York Jets are aspiring to the Super Bowl, even though they are the team with the longest playoff drought in the four major North American sports.
Acquiring Aaron Rodgers could provide a boost to a moribund franchise that has crumbled since losing the All-American Finals to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010.
It is also the last American final that did not feature the New England Patriots or the Kansas City Chiefs. While those two teams dominated the conference, the Jets had 11 losing seasons and finished last in the All-American East seven times.
“He brings a lot of enthusiasm and it’s wonderful, because we want everything that comes with him,” said Jets head coach Robert Saleh of Rodgers, a four-time MVP who is following in his footsteps. The 39 year old after a stellar career in Green Bay about Brett Favre moving to his new position.
Favre led the Jets to a positive season, but not the playoffs. Rodgers’ task could prove even more difficult as he enters a league filled with elite quarterbacks including Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrows, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen.
Rodgers will have some familiar faces to turn to: ex-Packers wide receivers Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard join him on the Jets, as does ex-Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman. They have come to improve training, relying on newcomers Garrett Wilson and Saus Gardner already excelling at the title. The receivers group also suffered heavily following the retirement of Corey Davis.
Running back Dalvin Cooks spent six years with the Minnesota Vikings and signed a one-year contract, getting the chance to share the field with Rodgers.
The Jets also hired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who led the Packers’ offense from 2019 to 2021. Rodgers won two MVPs and made the Pro Bowl in three of those seasons.
Rodgers isn’t the only big name wearing a new uniform this season. Here are some veterans who now have a new address:
Orlando Brown Jr., Left Tackle: After winning the Super Bowl in his second season in Kansas City, the Browns switched sides in the rivalry between the Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals. The hottest free agent on the market has signed a four-year, $64 million deal to protect quarterback Joe Burrow, who is recovering from a calf injury. Burrows had 153 sacks for loss in 49 starts.
Ezekiel Elliott, running back: The three-time Pro Bowler rushed for only 876 yards last season, his lowest total, but still reached the end zone 12 times. The Cowboys released him to make room under the salary cap and he was hired by the Patriots for one year. He should serve as a replacement for Raimondre Stevenson.
Zadarius Smith, Defensive End: With no cap space, the Vikings had to give up big salaries and star players this spring. He sent three-time Pro Bowl-nominated quarterback Chaser Smith to the Cleveland Browns. Paired with Myles Garrett, these two players would form one of the most dangerous pairings of opposing quarterbacks.
Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback: After six tough seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Tom Brady’s ex-substitute in New England will join coach Josh McDaniel at the Las Vegas Raiders, where he signed up for three seasons. He will lead an offense that relies on receivers Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Jacoby Meyers.
Darren Waller, tight end: The Raiders traded Waller to the New York Giants and traded quarterback Daniel Jones, a key playmaker and a better option at that position. Waller had over 1,000 passing yards in 2019 and 2020 before injuries limited his output the last two seasons.
Jalen Ramsey, Cornerback: A year after shocking the NFL with the acquisition of wide receiver Tyreek Hill, the Miami Dolphins made headlines again when they acquired star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and tight end Hunter Long from the Los Angeles Rams for a third-round pick.