Answering big NFL free agency questions: What’s next for the Patriots, Jets and Eagles

    Bill Barnwell is a staff writer for

The first two days of NFL free agency are in the books, with Wednesday at 4 p.m. the official start of the new league year. In a market filled with more offensive linemen, defensive tackles and safeties and fewer high-profile skill-position players, trades — or the possibility of trades — have been the higher-profile stories. Cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Jalen Ramsey and pass-catchers DJ Moore and Darren Waller already have been dealt, while running back Austin Ekeler has joined wideouts DeAndre Hopkins and Courtland Sutton on the trade block.

Oh, and there’s that other trade that hasn’t happened yet. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ move from the Packers to the Jets is the worst-kept secret in the league, but it seems stuck in neutral. Rodgers said he wouldn’t hold the Packers hostage with his decision, which is technically true; ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported Tuesday that he sent the Jets a number of players to consider acquiring, which feels a lot like a list of demands. New York added one of those receivers when it signed Allen Lazard, but the Rodgers trade remains on hold.

I have lots of questions about the Rodgers situation and everything else happening over the first few days of free agency. I’ll start with the team that might acquire Rodgers, though, because it’s in a vulnerable position:

What is the Jets’ backup plan if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t join them?

Let me start with this: I still think Rodgers ends up on the Jets. Everyone involved should be motivated to make a move happen. The chatter around the deal has been incessant for weeks. There’s no other obvious landing spot for the future Hall of Famer, especially if the Packers want to keep him out of the NFC. It’s clear Green Bay wants to move forward with Jordan Love as its starter, which would mean picking up his fifth-year option for 2024 by May.

As someone who once wrote an entire column about Antonio Brown being traded to the Bills, though, I know things can change. Smoke doesn’t always equal fire. The majority of people I’ve spoken to around the league expected this deal to be done, at least in name, before the legal tampering period began Monday. Instead, it’s unclear whether Rodgers has even confirmed he’ll play anywhere in 2023, let alone for the Jets.

While it has been waiting, many of New York’s other options have gone in other directions. Derek Carr, who the organization reportedly said could become “a first-ballot Hall of Famer” if he signed there, went to New Orleans. Jimmy Garoppolo signed with the Raiders. Even secondary options such as Taylor Heinicke, Andy Dalton and Jets cult hero Mike White found deals elsewhere.

So, let’s say Rodgers decides to retire. What could the Jets do next?

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