A blueprint of how the NY Jets should build around Aaron Rodgers

NY Jets, Aaron Rodgers
NY Jets, Aaron Rodgers / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

When Aaron Rodgers informed the world of his intentions to play football for the NY Jets this upcoming season, everything on One Jets Drive changed. The Jets were now in "win-now" mode for the first time in recent memory.

For many fans, this is unprecedented territory. The idea that a superstar QB would want to join the Jets organization doesn't seem real. More importantly, though, this means that the Jets must change their approach to free agency and the rest of the offseason to maximize their potential in the 2023 season.

Below will be a general overview of what the Jets need to do to place themselves in a position to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender when Rodgers takes his first snaps with the team.

Other teams have done this

The Jets need to do everything they can to get as much talent on the field in the immediate short term. There are still a plethora of talented players on the free agent market or available for trade.

Many fans are opposed to this idea. For what it is worth, it is a risky proposition. If the Jets sign older, expensive players to short, lucrative deals and do not end up winning a Super Bowl, it backfires on the front office and coaching staff. However, the potential increases for a Super Bowl win.

Many teams have adopted this strategy in recent memory when acquiring older quarterbacks. As Jets fans will not soon forget, in 2020 Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They quickly acquired veteran free agents such as Leonard Fournette, Rob Gronkowski, and Ndamukong Suh. They went on to win the Super Bowl.

In 2021, the Los Angeles Rams went all-in on a trade for Matthew Stafford. After trading for their veteran star QB, they then signed Leonard Floyd to an extension, signed DeSean Jackson, traded for Von Miller, and eventually signed Odell Beckham Jr. They also won a Super Bowl that year.

Back in 2012, the Denver Broncos traded for Peyton Manning, another veteran QB. They then immediately got their hands on DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders, Aqib Talib, Wes Welker, and T.J. Ward. Although they didn't win a Super Bowl in 2012, they would win one in 2014 with Manning in his final season.

There is a clear track record of teams acquiring veteran star quarterbacks and then immediately also getting other veteran free agents. Despite the notion this could cripple the youth on the team or hurt the Jets in years moving forward, it worked out quite well for the three teams mentioned above.

NY Jets free agent targets

Who should the Jets target, then? Players like Calais Campbell, Odell Beckham Jr, and Bobby Wagner come to mind.

Campbell, a 36-year-old defensive tackle, is past his prime for sure. At his height, he was a difference maker in the middle, capable of 10+ sacks per year. Last year he still notched 5.5 sacks and 34 tackles. Pairing him next to Quinnen Williams in the middle of the defensive front would make a nice tandem to dominate the line of scrimmage.

Beckham, a polarizing figure around the league, would be another potential target. Rehabbing from a torn ACL in the Super Bowl two years ago, Beckham is finally healthy. Adding him to a wide receiver room of Allen Lazard, Garrett Wilson, and Elijah Moore would make the Jets' pass catchers one of the most talented groups in the NFL.

Finally, Bobby Wagner is another defensive presence the Jets should look to add. They did just re-sign Quincy Williams to a three-year deal, but Wagner and his seven All-Pro honors would be a massive addition to the defense. Putting Wagner, Williams, and C.J. Mosley together would create a fearsome front seven every week.

The NY Jets must draft impact players

Another thing the Jets must do is target players that can make an immediate impact this year. Drafting players that can get right onto the field on special teams or certain formations must be a priority.

As they look to acquire Aaron Rodgers, the Jets must do everything possible to keep their first-round pick. That pick should be used to address the need for another offensive lineman, preferably a tackle. Someone like Paris Johnson or Broderick Jones makes a lot of sense.

Depending on what picks the Jets do give up in the trade for Rodgers, I would also explore moving up in the draft to address another need. A safety or center at the end of the first round or early second round would be a great addition. Brian Branch at safety or John Michael Schmitz at center would be ideal candidates.

The NY Jets should trade for disgruntled veteran players

One final thing the Jets should explore is trading for any disgruntled veterans that may become available over the course of the offseason or during the year. As the Rams did in 2021, adding one final piece can really put a team over the top.

Some players to monitor include Mike Evans if the Jets cannot land another veteran wide receiver in free agency. Also, J.C. Jackson from the New England Patriots could easily transition to play safety if the Patriots decide not to extend him. Kevin Byard is another appealing target.

One other team to monitor is the Minnesota Vikings. Having supposedly made running back Dalvin Cook already available for trade as well as releasing Adam Thielen, it appears they could be ready for a roster overhaul. Would the Jets pair Cook with Breece Hall?

There's also DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals if the Jets are looking for wide receiver help. The Jets could be on the short list of inquiring teams.

Final thoughts

Once Aaron Rodgers said he wanted to play for the Jets, the offseason philosophy changed. Naturally, when adding Rodgers, other veteran players will follow.

What the Jets need to do is prioritize win-now players that could help them win a Super Bowl this season. Older players with playoff experience who can still provide help jump to the top of the list. Bobby Wagner, Calais Campbell, and Odell Beckham make the most sense.

They also must be aggressive with their own draft picks. Using those picks on players that could help immediately is important. No developmental players or projects. Safe picks for players that can play now must be prioritized.

Finally, keeping an eye on the trade market for players that become available the rest of the offseason or during the year can put this team over the top. Being fearful of losing future draft capital or not allowing the young guys to play cannot be the mindset anymore.

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The Jets must push all their chips into the middle of the table. This team needs to win now — will they make the necessary moves to do so?