After weeks of speculation, the Packers finally traded Aaron Rodgers to the Jets on Monday, ending one of the most discussed aspects of the NFL offseason.
The move created chaos amongst those involved in the AFC East, with many concluding New England will be the team at the bottom of the division as a result. But the quarterback’s arrival in New York impacts the Patriots more than just pure competition on the field.
As part of the deal, the Jets swapped first-round picks for the 2023 draft, sliding back to pick 15 and Green Bay moving up to 13. So although the Patriots’ position remains the same, the draft may look a bit different now with the Packers selecting ahead of them.
The swap is notable because it wasn’t something that needed to be a part of the trade. The Jets giving up a first-round pick for a future Hall of Fame quarterback makes sense. Green Bay making sure to include the swap says a lot about how they felt about sitting behind New England on night one.
But why would the Packers want to ensure they jumped ahead of the Patriots?
The two teams need similar positions from the draft; offensive tackle, edge rusher, and tight end, maybe even wide receiver, thus creating nervousness within the Packers’ organization about potentially missing out on a player they really want.
Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network confirmed the swap was intentionally done to acquire a specific player, that prospect being wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who has been a favorite to land with the Patriots.
Because JSN has been consistently on Bill Belichick’s radar, if this is indeed why the Packers moved up, it could dramatically change the results of the first round for the Patriots.
On the flip side, however, plenty of other prospective receivers could be great fits for the offense if they choose to go another way with pick 14, especially if the Packers decide to take one of the top receivers. The same can be said about offensive tackles, which both teams need.
Regarding the on-the-field aspect that Rodgers’ trade brings, the Patriots now know they will be meeting the accomplished quarterback twice a year. So two games that have typically been easy wins over the last several years just became a lot tougher, but possible, especially when looking at the most recent game between them.