PHOENIX — After several weeks of pursuing quarterback Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is eager to finalize a trade with the Green Bay Packers.
“Well, you know, I think we’re anxious. We’re anxious,” Johnson told a small group of reporters Tuesday at the NFL’s annual meeting. “I guess, as we look forward, we’re optimistic. But we have a plan, so we’re willing to stick with our plan. And I don’t think anybody is hyperventilating at this point.”
Johnson, commenting for the first time on Rodgers, recalled the moment two weeks ago when Rodgers announced his intention to play for the Jets in 2023. Johnson said the reaction “in the building was pretty high and everybody was pretty excited about having a player of that caliber.”
It’s not a done deal, though.
The two teams are in regular contact but haven’t been able to agree on trade compensation. The Jets reportedly are unwilling to deal their 2023 first-round pick (No. 13 overall), but Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst indicated Monday there are other ways to execute the trade without including the 13th pick — perhaps a sign that the two sides are inching closer.
Johnson said there’s no deadline from the Jets’ perspective.
On March 7, Johnson and team officials flew cross country to meet with Rodgers at his home in Malibu, California. Asked to describe the meeting, Johnson said, “Have you met Aaron Rodgers? I hadn’t either, but he’s very impressive. Extremely smart. Authentic. He’s definitely his own person, that’s for sure.
“Great athlete, great golfer. I think he does pretty much everything at the highest level. Just won Pebble Beach [Pro-Am]. Sunk like a 20-footer to win. So, he’s a competitor.”
A few days after the Jets’ 7-10 season, which ended with a six-game losing streak, Johnson said quarterback was “the missing piece” and that he’d “absolutely” be willing to spend big money to find one. The Jets made a Rodgers trade their No. 1 priority.
Johnson, mindful of the tampering rules, said at one point, “I really shouldn’t talk too much more about this player.”
Echoing the sentiments of Jets coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas, Johnson said he expects the trade to happen. “We’re pretty confident that we can get something done that is going to help the Jets,” he said.
Meanwhile, Saleh and Douglas met briefly Tuesday with free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who made an appearance at the league’s event. The meeting occurred in an outdoor courtyard, with Saleh and Beckham photographed in an embrace.
The Jets already have signed two receivers in free agency, Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman, but they’re in hot pursuit of Beckham. Rodgers, in his meeting with the Jets, mentioned Beckham as a player he’d like to have on the team.
Johnson said it was a “compliment” to the franchise that a player of Beckham’s stature would consider the Jets. “I think it’s really cool,” he said. “I mean, this hasn’t happened in a while, right?”