aaron rodgers jets packers trade
Syndication: The Post-Crescent

We do not know where the Jets’ offseason quarterback hunt will land. But we know where it will not.

Tom Brady has retired. The Giants have committed to Daniel Jones. The Bears are reportedly sticking with Justin Fields. So with those options off the board, here is an updated look at Gang Green’s 2023 possibilities under center — and ranked:

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
1a. Derek Carr, Raiders

3. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
4. Lamar Jackson, Ravens

Your mileage may vary with this quartet. Our logic is as follows.

If the Jets can get Rodgers, they should do it. He does not have a no-trade clause like Carr, but no one can deal for him unless he blesses the deal. And Rodgers’ nearly $60 million cap hit in 2023 will limit what the Packers get in return — especially if they want to move on, as they reportedly do.

As long as the Jets believe Rodgers is still a difference-maker, going all-out for a quick championship sprint makes sense. They do not need to worry about his age (39) or all the drama that comes with him. They just need to squeeze a Super Bowl win out of a limited timeframe. The Brett Favre experiment almost worked. This one certainly could pay off.

That said … Carr (32 in Week 1) may be the best all-around fit for the Jets in terms of age, durability — he has missed two regular season games and one playoff game in his career due to injury — production and cost. He is a better player than Garoppolo and the anticipated price tag could offset the performance deficiency with Rodgers.

How the Raiders handle their Carr mess — one of their creation — will be fascinating. He has a no-trade clause and his scheduled $32.9 million salary for 2023 (and $7.5 million in 2024 salary) becomes guaranteed if he is on the roster three days after the Super Bowl. If the Raiders cut him before that deadline, they will eat about $5.6 million in dead money and save just over $29 million in cap space.

Why should Carr sign off on a trade that helps the Raiders? They unceremoniously dumped him and he will get paid either way. And the Raiders are likely to recoup little given they have no leverage. The Raiders should cut Carr the day after the Super Bowl. Take the minimal cap hit and move on. That is a much safer move than holding out hope for a trade. And it would allow the Jets to pursue Carr as a free agent.

Garoppolo, 31, would be a good pickup. No one should complain if that is where the Jets end up. He has proven he is a competent game manager who can lead winning teams. But his injury history is a massive concern. And he is going to cost a lot of money.

We only have Jackson, 26, still on here because of how fraught his negotiations with the Ravens have been. They have said they want him back and are expected to use the franchise tag. But if Jackson is hell-bent on a fully-guaranteed deal that rivals what the Browns gave Deshaun Watson, anything could happen. That said, landing Jackson would require a massive financial commitment from the Jets AND likely sending multiple first-round picks to Baltimore. Not to mention his durability issues- ones we argue are far more concerning than Garoppolo given Jackson’s style of play and the unique offensive system the team will build around him.

5. Matt Ryan, Colts
6. Ryan Tannehill, Titans

Ryan (38 in Week 1) is not getting enough mention. The Colts will likely cut him before a $10 million roster bonus (plus further 2023 salary guarantees) kick in on March 17. He did not have a great 2022, but he did enough to bet that it was more about the team around him than his own regression. Ryan would be a good mid-level fallback option. And it allows the Jets to keep hope alive with Wilson. If there is any way to salvage his career here, putting him in a position room with a potential Hall of Famer would seem like a good thing.

Tannehill, who will be 35 on Opening Day, is likely staying put. The Titans seem inclined to try to run it back one more time after dealing with a rash of injuries. But he is in the last real year of his contract (he has two void years in 2024-25) and would be available on the cheap via trade if the Titans end up upgrading (they could be a Rodgers suitor). Tannehill is not a superstar, but he’s a capable game manager if he has playmakers and a strong defense. Which the Jets give him.

7. Sam Darnold, Panthers
8. Geno Smith, Seahawks

Just kidding, folks.

9. Mike White, Jets
10. Zach Wilson, Jets

Neither guy is The Guy. We have learned as much. It makes sense for the Jets to re-sign White if the price is right. And Wilson seems likely to stick around, even if out of pure organizational stubbornness. But if either is the Jets’ Week 1 starting quarterback, they are in trouble.

James Kratch can be reached at james.kratch@xlmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.