FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — On his first day with the New York Jets, quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed excellent touch without throwing a pass.
He talked about recreating the glory days of Joe Namath, indicated he will stick around to attend voluntary workouts with his new teammates and strongly hinted he will play more than one season. Rodgers was so comfortable Wednesday in unfamiliar surroundings that he removed his shoes and was walking barefoot in a meeting room with coaches.
“He’s right at home,” coach Robert Saleh said. “He’s awesome.”
The Jets introduced Rodgers in a rare news conference, something they hadn’t done for a player acquisition since Tim Tebow in 2012. It took place in the team auditorium, where they showed a loop of his Green Bay Packers’ highlights. The song “Something Just Like This” was playing as Rodgers entered the room.
The legends and the myths … Achilles and his gold … Hercules and his gifts.
Wearing a Jets golf shirt, Rodgers seemed at ease before the large gathering, thanking the Packers for 18 years and all but promising a dramatic turnaround for the Jets. He mentioned the one Lombardi Trophy in the lobby, saying it’s “looking a little lonely.”
Rodgers, acquired Monday in a long-anticipated trade, called the Jets one of eight to 12 teams with a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl. He admitted fantasizing about winning a championship in a big city such as New York, saying it would add to his legacy.
He didn’t commit to playing beyond 2023, but he elaborated later in a small group of reporters, saying his plan is to play more than one year.
“They definitely gave up some picks for me to be here, so this isn’t like one-and-done in my mind,” he said.
“They definitely gave up some picks for me to be here, so this isn’t like one-and done in my mind.”
Aaron Rodgers on playing for the Jets beyond this season
Rodgers said he wanted to stay in the present and not think about the future, and “if that rubs some people the wrong way, so be it. I want to be all in. I want my ‘yes’ to be a full ‘F yes.'”
The Jets gave up a compensation package that included a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 conditional second-rounder that will improve to a first-rounder if he plays at least 65% of the offensive snaps. That’s significant capital for a player who may not play beyond 2023.
Owner Woody Johnson said that caused no hesitation.
“None. Zero. None,” he said.
“You have to know the player and what he’s all about, and I felt very comfortable with what he was talking about,” Johnson said of Rodgers, who hosted Johnson, Saleh and several team officials at his California home in early March.
Rodgers, who said in mid-February that he was 90% retired, sounded fully invested in the Jets. He called them an iconic franchise, invoking Namath’s name on multiple occasions.
He received Namath’s blessing to wear No. 12, which is retired, but he declined because “No. 12 is Broadway Joe.” He will wear No. 8, his old college number at Cal. Rodgers admitted that he’d like to pull a Namath and bring a championship to the Jets, who have gone 12 straight years without a playoff appearance — the longest active streak in the league.
“I grew up watching old VHS tapes of the Super Bowls and so, obviously, I know about The Guarantee and Broadway Joe,” Rodgers said. “It’s been a while since then.” Fifty-four years, to be exact.
“I love daydreaming and night dreaming, too — and it’s fun to take your mind to that spot,” Rodgers said. “That’s why I’m here. I’m not here to be a stopgap to have a mediocre season. We want to win the whole thing.”
Saleh, coming off a 7-10 season, was cautious not to make any bold predictions, but he acknowledged that Rodgers — a four-time MVP — brings a special energy to the building and the locker room. They will see a lot of him in the coming days.
Rodgers, who in recent years didn’t attend voluntary workouts in Green Bay, said he’s planning to participate in most of them with the Jets.
“I want to put my stamp on the offense and the locker room and let these guys know what the expectation is going to be,” he said. “It’s time for all of us to set the proper expectation about this team. Like I said last year after we played them, they’re not the same old Jets. This is a team that has a legitimate opportunity to do something special this year.”
The trade became official just as the news conference started. Rodgers’ agent, David Dunn, was present and was working with Jets officials to renegotiate his contract, perhaps to provide salary cap relief.
Rodgers didn’t spend a lot of time reflecting on his acrimonious divorce from the Packers. General manager Brian Gutekunst recently accused Rodgers of not responding to messages early in the offseason, leaving the organization in limbo.
The former Packers legend responded by saying he has “limited cell service” at his oceanfront home in Malibu, saying the only way to reach him is via FaceTime. He said the Packers could’ve made a more concerted effort to reach him.
The Packers closed the book on the Rodgers trade Wednesday, but not before Gutekunst reiterated that he and other members of the organization tried multiple times to reach Rodgers during the offseason with no success.
Gutekunst, who earlier this offseason lamented being unable to discuss the direction of the team with Rodgers, would not say whether he tried FaceTime.
“We tried to communicate on a number of levels,” Gutekunst said. “Once we couldn’t, we communicated with his agents quite a bit. So I’m not going to get into that. I think it’s not good for us, not good for them, and we’re going to just kind of move forward. … There was no lack of effort in communication on that part from us. But I think this is a good day for the Packers [and a] good day for the Jets.”
The trade will force the Packers to take a $40.3 million salary cap hit for Rodgers this season but will have him off their books starting in 2024. They have about $12 million in available cap space heading into the draft.
On Day 1, Rodgers also wanted to look forward, not backward.
“I think I can just fit in perfectly,” he said of the Jets. “I’m not here to be a savior of any kind. I’m just here to be the best quarterback I can be to lead authentically and to inspire the guys around me to raise their level of play to an even greater level.”
ESPN’s Rob Demovsky contributed to this report.