Aaron Rodgers, who almost retired, says pay cut shows multi-year commitment to Jets

When you acquire a quarterback about to turn 40 years old, you know it’s not a long-term proposition.

Still, the New York Jets didn’t want Aaron Rodgers to be one and done, not after the draft picks they gave the Green Bay Packers to trade for him.

The Jets had to be a little uneasy to hear Rodgers say he nearly retired this offseason. Rodgers reiterated that to NBC Sports’ Peter King in an interview, saying he was ready to retire before going on his much-discussed darkness retreat.

“The answer is yes, I needed a change,” Rodgers told King. “I did think the change was gonna be retirement.”

Rodgers said during the darkness retreat, he was ready to consider coming back to the Packers if they were “open arms” on him being back. He didn’t get that message, so he considered other options. The Jets went to visit Rodgers and traded for him. There seems to be a renewed energy with Rodgers changing teams.

And how did Rodgers show the Jets he’s all in? By taking a big pay cut.

Aaron Rodgers on his pay cut

Rodgers’ new two-year, $75 million fully guaranteed contract contains about $35 million less in guaranteed money than he had remaining on his old deal, which he signed with the Packers.

Rodgers told King the voluntary pay cut was “the right thing that made me feel best.”

“I thought it was important they knew how committed I was,” Rodgers told King. “And in my conversations with Joe [Douglas, the Jets’ general manager], he has made it very clear the vision for the football team.”

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Rodgers said his motivation was to let the Jets be able to explore options if a difference-making player was available at the trade deadline.

“I wanted to make sure that if somebody valuable came available that we’d be able to get him,” Rodgers told King. “I’m very happy with the contract. I feel great about it.”

Going from being on the verge of retirement to giving up a fortune in guaranteed money to help out his new team is a pretty big, notable shift.

Rodgers looks forward to the future

Whatever happens next for Rodgers could be big for his NFL legacy. He’s a four-time MVP and one of the all-time greats, but a second Super Bowl title has eluded him. Years of playoff disappointments in Green Bay would disappear if he brings the Jets their first Super Bowl title since the 1968 season. It’s not like Rodgers isn’t making a lot of money, even with a pay cut. And he understands what this chapter in his career could mean.

In a “Hard Knocks” preview, Rodgers seemed contemplative about nearly being at the end of his career.

The Packers and Rodgers needed to try something new, and Rodgers recognized that.

“Look, it’s not their fault,” Rodgers told King. “I think it was time for everybody involved.”

A new start has Rodgers thinking beyond 2023. He has gone from nearly being retired to talking about playing “a few seasons.”

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“If I can string together a few seasons of good health, then I don’t want to put a cap on my future,” Rodgers said. “But I feel good about this not being just a one-year thing.”

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