Aaron Rodgers, Jets

Aaron Rodgers, Jets


New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers speaking with the media at a press conference.

Aaron Rodgers is the clear No. 1 leader on the New York Jets roster. When he speaks, people listen.

The four-time NFL MVP is the reason for hope and Super Bowl aspirations among the Jets fan base. However, there is another important leadership group that is key in turning this ship around in 2024.

“It’s development. I see development from some of the young guys. Garrett [Wilson] taking another step and Sauce [Gardner], and Jermaine Johnson. All guys in their third year who have had incredible rookie years and nice second years. Obviously Breece Hall I don’t know how the hell I didn’t mention him but those four guys are core guys for us. They are all going into their third seasons and that’s pretty impressive when you look at a draft like that,” Rodgers told Adam Schein on “Schein On Sports.” “And now the fun thing for those guys is there, not the young guys. They are the guys that are growing up. Now it’s time to be a leader, now it’s time to exert yourselves more, now it’s time to be a bigger part of building the chemistry, and I think those guys are really settling into their roles.”

Young Pups Are Becoming Full Sized Sooner Rather Than Later

Rodgers’ challenges he provided the youngsters were more about leadership than anything else. A-Rod is 40 years of age and will be 41 in December. The honest truth is he won’t be around forever so the team needs to develop a leadership infrastructure that will be there after he retires.

However, there is another ticking timebomb as to why these young pups are about to reach a new level in the NFL.

The Jets’ core four of Hall, Johnson, Gardner, and Wilson are all eligible for new contract extensions starting next offseason.

Here are the cap hits for those four players in 2024:

  • Hall: $2.45 million (0.96% of the cap)
  • Johnson: $3.56 million (1.4% of the cap)
  • Wilson: $5.6 million (2.19% of the cap)
  • Gardner: $9.1 million (3.57% of the cap)

For NFL teams this is relative chump change. However, the Jets won’t have the luxury of paying these young guys pretty pennies for much longer.

You could make a strong argument that Gardner and Hall should command top-of-the-market or near-top-of-the-market deals. Wilson isn’t far behind and if he has the massive year many people are expecting with Rodgers in 2024 then he will soon join his other 2022 classmate brethren in the payday line.

Johnson is another player who’ll need a big year in 2024 to get that massive payday.

Time Is Now for the Jets in 2024

That may seem like an obvious statement with a 40-year-old starting quarterback. However, the benefit in this rookie wage scale era is winning when those players are cheap.

If you nail the draft, you have a multiyear window to try to win and maximize the contract structure. Typically that applies to a rookie quarterback who is making dirt money but in this rare case with the Jets it is all the other pieces that are relatively inexpensive.

They won’t be cheap for long. Next offseason the pearly gates of payday open and the Jets don’t have to start paying them next year but it would behoove them to do so. Those price tags for the elite young talent is only going to increase the more that you wait.

So in other words, the Jets need to win one in 2024 and then they can re-evaluate next offseason with priorities. If they don’t win with this group now, they might have to make some tough business decisions in 2025.

Paul A. Esden Jr. covers the New York Jets for Heavy.com. A New York native, he is also the official PA voice of the Syracuse Strong Football Club and co-hosts Cumulus Media’s morning show, “The Manchild Show with Boy Green.” Before joining Heavy in 2021, Esden Jr. covered both national and New York sports for FanSided, Elite Sports NY and The Score 1260. More about Paul A. Esden Jr.

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