Tom Brady recruited Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he split from the New England Patriots in 2020.
Then Brady won his seventh Super Bowl with their help in his first Florida season.
Aaron Rodgers’ player wish list for the Jets is no different. It’s a bit less star-studded, including pass catchers Odell Beckham Jr., Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard and Marcedes Lewis, per ESPN.
But it would be foolish for Jets GM Joe Douglas not to have engaged Rodgers in that conversation about players who can help the quarterback transition seamlessly.
“It’s not just any player, right?” former Raiders GM Mike Mayock told the Daily News on the Bleav Network’s “Talkin’ Ball with Pat Leonard” podcast. “You’re talking about a guy with 18-19 years in the league, a first ballot Hall of Famer. It’s not so different than Tom Brady when he went to Tampa Bay and he wanted to get Gronk and some of his guys. And that was met with open hands like ‘Yeah, let’s go get Gronk.’”
“I think you have to put it in proper perspective,” Mayock continued. “Do you want your players making decisions for you? No, of course not. And there’s got to be a line there. However, with a guy that’s been in the league so long and a guy who’s influential among other players, if he could bring players in that make your team better, I think you’d be kind of ignorant not to at least try to accept that.”
An organization does need to create boundaries, to be sure.
[ Mike Lupica: We need to slow the Super Bowl talk if desperate Jets land desperate Aaron Rodgers ]
The Denver Broncos gave Russell Wilson carte blanche in their facility last season, including a personal office and an entourage of his own staff and coaches. That quickly rubbed people the wrong way and blew up in their faces.
Nathaniel Hackett, fired after one season as Wilson’s Broncos head coach, landed as Robert Saleh’s new Jets offensive coordinator. He already seems to have helped recruit Rodgers. And should also be a resource of cautionary tales on how far is too far to enable a star QB.
[ Aaron Rodgers touts new Jets OC Nathaniel Hackett ]
Rodgers isn’t Wilson, though. Wilson’s game declined along with those off-field oversteps.
On the contrary, it would take a brave man or woman to place a heavy wager on Rodgers playing poorly this season in New York, even after a 2022 Green Bay finale that was well below Rodgers’ standard.
As for when this trade actually will happen, former Brown GM Michael Lombardi said a couple weeks ago on his “GM Shuffle” podcast that Green Bay was seeking a first-round pick plus another high draft pick depending on whether Rodgers played past 2023.
Interestingly enough, Mayock painted a similar picture of how this will get done so neither the Packers or Jets feel vulnerable to being fleeced.
“I think the way to do it is through contingencies,” Mayock said. “In other words, pick a number: we’ll [the Jets will] give you a first-round pick this year, but if he plays at a high enough level or a certain percentage of snaps, we’ll give you a pick next year also.”
“If we go to the Super Bowl, [they’re] gonna get another pick,” Mayock added. “If he plays in ‘24, not just ‘23, then [they’re] gonna want another pick in ‘25. So I think there’s a lot more layers involved in this than people understand.”
It’s clear how the Jets and Packers can find a compromise and that the Jets could truly take flight with Rodgers in town.
“Joe’s done an amazing job with the rest of that roster,” Mayock said. “They’ve got one of the best young rosters in the entire league.”
[ Antwan Staley: Aaron Rodgers and the Jets need each other as both have something to prove ]
Now it’s time to lock in their quarterback.
My understanding is Beckham’s list of potential destinations includes the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Jets and Giants.
On Saturday, Beckham quibbled with reports that he is seeking up to $20 million per year and suggested he is being low-balled by someone at $4 million.
“I’m just so confused where the quote is from me th[a]t said I want 20 …… all I’m sayin is 4 AINT enough,” OBJ tweeted.
A reunion with the Giants would depend on the money. If another team is willing to pay Beckham $15 million, OBJ will not be a Giant. But if he doesn’t have an offer higher than $4 million on the table? That keeps Big Blue in play.
Look no further than Beckham’s tweet to Saquon Barkley on Thursday as evidence he would love to see it work out.
“Tell Joe [Schoen] call my agent,” Beckham wrote. “I got some more shxt left to do.” Then OBJ tweeted of his market: “They wanna try Mouton but pay box wine price for it.”
Beckham is worth every penny if he stays healthy and produces. That’s a big if, though.
The way to bring him back to the Big Apple in blue would be through an incentivized contract that protects the Giants and rewards OBJ if he stays on the field and racks up stats.
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Outside of that, there’s a good chance he’s wearing green or some other color come fall.
So is OBJ to the Giants likely? Maybe not. But is it still possible? Yes it is.
Javon Hargrave’s four-year, $81 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers was my favorite free agent move of the new league year’s first week. The Niners stole a key disruptor and pass rusher (11 sacks in 2022) from the Philadelphia Eagles team that eliminated them in last season’s NFC Championship Game.
GM John Lynch also took a low-cost gamble on former Raiders first-round pick Clelin Ferrell on a one-year deal worth up to $2.4 million. The 49ers’ pass rush already was fierce with Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead. Now it’s loaded with the NFL Draft still to come.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman, meanwhile, also had a strong first week. He re-signed corners James Bradberry and Darius Slay, and running back Boston Scott, kept veteran leaders Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Jason Kelce, and took fliers on former Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny, Browns cornerback Greedy Williams and Falcons QB Marcus Mariota.
Philly lost linebackers T.J. Edwards (Bears) and Kyzir White (Cardinals), safety Marcus Epps (Raiders) and running back Miles Sanders (Panthers), though, to free agency.
“There are probably seven or eight teams in the league that operate at a high level, a functional level, with a clear, consistent thought process that allows them to win consistently. I think the other 24, 25 teams eliminate themselves on an annual basis.” — Mayock on the NFL (go to youtube.com/@PLonNFL for more)