Rich CiminiESPN staff writer4 minutes to read
Phoenix – New York Jets coach Robert Salih remains “confident” that Aaron Rodgers will be the starting quarterback for the 2023 season, and would like to see Odell Beckham Jr. score some Rodgers assists.
Speaking to reporters Monday at the NFL Annual Meeting, Saleh confirmed the team’s interest in the free agent wide receiver. As for Rodgers, Saleh said the Jets are in no rush to complete a trade with the Green Bay Packers, saying they can wait until training camp in late July.
“I don’t press the panic button,” Saleh said.
“I am sure it will go well,” he added. “You guys know me. I’m a very positive and optimistic person, so I’m confident things will turn out the way we hope. But at the same time, you won’t eat me.”
It’s been 13 days since the Packers quarterback spoke on “The Pat McAfee Show,” where he made a public commitment to the Jets. Since then, the two teams have been unable to negotiate commercial compensation. The Packers are reportedly seeking a package that includes the Jets’ first-round pick (13th overall), and the Jets don’t want to give it up.
Due to tampering rules, Salih did not mention Rodgers by name and avoided direct questions about the team’s interest in him. But he left no doubt that he’s counting on a four-time MVP to be the Jets’ starting quarterback, with Zack Wilson’s No. 2 pick in 2021. Rodgers’ trade is stalling. Saleh refused to discuss this scenario.
Ideally, they would like Rodgers to participate in the offseason program, which begins April 17 and runs until mid-June, but Saleh indicated that this is not necessary.
It is clear that the Jets do not want to appear nervous, as they are trying to consolidate their influence in conversations with the Packages. This may explain why Saleh did not close the door on the possibility of waiting until Rodgers training camp.
“If there is a good relationship with the coordinator, there is really no urgency,” Saleh said. “The quarterback, if he understands the system, if the quarterback knows that, it’s just a matter of honing skills and doing all that stuff. So, there’s no rush.”
No doubt Saleh was alluding to Rodgers’ strong relationship with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. When Rodgers announced his “intent” to play for the Jets, he cited Hackett as one of the main reasons.
In theory, the Packers might want to complete the trade before the draft so they can recoup their 2023 compensation. If that doesn’t happen by then, they could wait until June 1 because there would be a huge salary cap advantage. Meanwhile, the Jets seem determined to make Rodgers happy by adding the players he has suggested.
The Jets, who have already signed former Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard, are hoping to get Beckham, another name on Rodgers’ alleged wish list. The Jets are in talks with the 30-year-old receiver, who is coming off his second anterior cruciate ligament injury, a source said.
“He was an amazing wide receiver in this league,” Saleh said. “Everything you hear about him, he’s an exceptional person. That’s something you’re always going to look at, turn over every stone, go over every stone, and make sure you don’t miss any opportunity to add a great player. And there’s no guarantee anything will happen.”
There was a lot of movement at the wide receiver. The Jets cut Braxton Berrios, traded Elijah Moore, and signed Lazard and Mecole Hardman, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs. Salih said the addition of Hardman allowed them to trade Moore to the Cleveland Browns.
Saleh said they did not shop at Moore’s but received “a lot of different phone calls” once they got to Hardeman’s. He said the trade was “a no-brainer” for general manager Joe Douglas, who drafted Moore in the 2021 second round.
In other personnel developments, Saleh has committed to having Wilson play the QB2 role despite his deep struggles last season. He also threw in speculation about Carl Lawson’s place on the roster, saying he wanted a defensive end on the roster despite charging a reported $15.7 million fee.
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