Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Credit: AP/Kamil Krzaczynski

The Jets flew to California on Tuesday for their first face-to-face discussions with Aaron Rodgers about the growing possibility that the four-time MVP could play for them in New York, according to ESPN.

The network’s report said owner Woody Johnson, general manager Joe Douglas, coach Robert Saleh and new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett were among the contingent that made the trip on Johnson’s private plane. The journey came after some preliminary discussions with Rodgers once the Jets were granted permission by the Packers to speak with Rodgers, as NFL Network reported earlier Tuesday.

The Jets have made no secret of their desire to bring in a proven quarterback to help the franchise end a 12-year playoff drought. If they were to land Rodgers, the Jets actually could contend for a Super Bowl.

“That’s kind of the missing piece,” Johnson said earlier this year when asked about the possibility of acquiring a successful veteran at the position.

The 39-year-old Rodgers has been linked to the Jets since early in the offseason. The Jets met twice with Derek Carr, who many viewed as a fallback option for the team if they didn’t end up with Rodgers. Carr signed with the Saints on Monday.

There still are a number of things that need to be worked out, including whether Rodgers wants to keep playing if he  leaves Green Bay, where he’s been since 2005. Rodgers has not publicly stated if he would prefer to move on from Green Bay.

“For everybody involved directly and indirectly, it's best for a decision earlier," Rodgers said on the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” last week. "I don't want to drag anybody around . . . This is my life. It's important to me, and I'll make a decision soon enough and we'll go down that road and be really excited about it."

Rodgers recently spent four days in a darkness retreat that he said would help him decide his future. The fact that he is speaking to the Jets would seem to indicate that he’s open for a change of address.

The sudden movement in the process after months of speculation had some of the current Jets excited. Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner retweeted a doctored photograph of Rodgers in a Jets uniform with a direct plea to the quarterback: “I promise if you become a Jet, I won’t pick you off in practice & I’ll burn the cheesehead.” Gardner celebrated the Jets’ win over the Packers in Green Bay last season by donning the traditional headwear of Packers fans. Running back Breece Hall also posted his approval of the potential move on Twitter. “Don’t mind me,” he wrote. “Just manifesting.”

Although the Jets have the NFL's longest current streak of missing the playoffs, they do have some features that could be appealing to Rodgers.

They hired  Hackett as offensive coordinator. He held the same title with Green Bay for three years and built a strong relationship with Rodgers. The two are still close. Rodgers also speaks highly of Saleh, who is a close friend of Packers coach Matt LaFleur,

The Jets also have good young talent on offense who could flourish playing with someone of Rodgers’ ilk. Receiver Garrett Wilson was the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Hall was the Jets’ best offensive player as a rookie before tearing his ACL in Week 7. Elijah Moore is a versatile and explosive receiver who could be extremely productive if used the right way.

They also upgraded the tight end room last offseason, adding Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah.

The Jets had a top-five defense last season, led by tackle Quinnen Williams and Gardner, who was the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Rodgers’ contract is another issue. He is due to make $59.6 million this season and $108.8 million through 2024. However, Rodgers would carry a salary cap hit of $31.6 million in 2023, because the bulk of what he is owed for this season comes in the form of a $58.3 million signing bonus. The Jets likely would want Rodgers to restructure his deal, but they’re not necessarily concerned about the money.

Johnson said he “absolutely” would spend big for a proven quarterback who helps their chances to not only compete for a playoff spot but contend for a championship.

The Jets went 7-10 last season, losing their final six games. Inconsistent and ineffective quarterback play were big reasons for their nosedive.

Zach Wilson, the No. 2 pick two years ago, was benched twice during the second half of the season. The Jets hope to develop him into a starting quarterback, but there’s no guarantee it will be with them. Mike White started four of the Jets’ last seven games. Fractured ribs sidelined him three times. White is a free agent and may not return to the Jets.

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