After months of wondering whether they’d be sharing a division with future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers this year, the New England Patriots finally have their answer: Rodgers will be a New York Jet after all, NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported on Monday.
What does this mean for the Patriots? The trade impacts their outlook not just for 2023, but for future seasons as well.
Patriots’ Path to Postseason Could be More Difficult
Rodgers isn’t just switching teams: he’s also switching conferences and divisions. Whereas he previously played in the NFC North with the Green Bay Packers, he’ll now play in the AFC East with the Jets.
That happens to be the same division as the Patriots, which means New England will face Rodgers twice during the regular season, assuming he’s active and healthy for both games. That’s because the NFL schedule guarantees that all four teams in the same division play each other twice in the regular season with one game in each team’s stadium.
Because Rodgers was in the NFC before, the Patriots only faced him once every four years due to the rotating nature of the NFL schedule regarding inter-conference games. Rodgers had mixed results in his contests against New England, going 2-2 with a 57% completion rate, 6 touchdowns and 1 interception. That’s the third-lowest completion rate he has against any opponent, suggesting that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and New England’s defense have been effective at game-planning for Rodgers.
Rodgers did beat the Patriots the last time he faced them, however, in Week 4 of the 2022 season. The game was close, but Rodgers and co. came out on top in a 27-24 win over New England at Lambeau Field.
The Patriots might be able to hold their own against Rodgers, but it’s the other 15 games on New York’s schedule that could prove problematic. The four-time MVP and former Super Bowl champ is far more accomplished than previous Jets quarterbacks like Zach Wilson, Mike White and Joe Flacco. New York went 7-10 last year and finished last in the AFC East, but could have more success this year with Rodgers and his career .659 regular-season winning percentage under center.
If that happens, the third-place Patriots could slip to fourth if they don’t improve on last year’s 8-9 record. The Buffalo Bills are coming off three straight division titles and the Miami Dolphins still had enough talent to make the playoffs last year despite losing starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for four games with multiple concussions. With Rodgers joining the Jets, the AFC East looks even more crowded now with all four teams being potential playoff contenders.
Aaron Rodgers Trade Also Affects 2023 NFL Draft
Another consequence of the Rodgers trade is how it will affect the draft order for the 2023 NFL Draft this week.
According to NFL insider Adam Schefter, part of the trade involved the Jets and Packers swapping first-round picks in the upcoming draft. Green Bay moved up from No. 15 to No. 13 overall, while New York moved down from No. 13 to No. 15. New England is currently in between them at No. 14 as of Monday evening.
Assuming the Patriots don’t trade up, that means the Packers will now pick right before them. That could be an issue for New England, as both teams are in need of a wide receiver. It’s possible Green Bay will use the No. 13 pick to select Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who is a potential draft target for the Patriots as well.
If that happens, New England may have to alter its draft strategy, which could affect the team for years to come.