Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Credit: TNS/Armando L. Sanchez

Derek Carr, the Jets’ Plan B at quarterback, has signed with the New Orleans Saints, putting even more pressure on the team to land Plan AA.

That would be Aaron Rodgers, the mercurial 39-year-old future Hall of Famer currently under contract with the Packers who has not yet announced publicly whether he intends to play professional football in 2023. Once he does so, the Jets are expected to begin earnest negotiations with the Packers to trade for him and what they hope will be the final piece to a Super Bowl puzzle that has gone unfinished for more than a half-century.

The Jets have not been able to speak publicly about Rodgers because of tampering rules, but all signs have pointed toward their desire to bring him to New Jersey. That includes the recent hiring of new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, a close friend and confidant of Rodgers’ during their time together in Green Bay. Hackett was not the play-caller for the Packers and had one unimpressive season as coach of the Broncos in 2022 before being hired by the Jets earlier this year.

Unlike Rodgers, though, Carr became a free agent in January after he was released by the Las Vegas Raiders. The Jets were one of the quarterback-hungry teams that courted him. They brought Carr to New Jersey to visit with the coaching staff and front office and met with him again during the NFL Combine last week in Indianapolis, this time with an audience that included owner Woody Johnson.

“I thought it was great,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said last week of the interactions with Carr. “He’s a tremendous young man . . . His mind is in the right spot, he keeps the main thing the main thing. A really impressive young man, for sure.”

Had he truly won over the Jets, though, they probably would have come to an agreement before the start of league-wide free agency next week and perhaps even before Rodgers makes his desires known.

The Saints were the first team that Carr visited, doing so even before he was released by Las Vegas and could become a potential piece in a trade. The deal reunites the 31-year-old Carr with coach Dennis Allen, who started the second-round quarterback as a rookie in 2014 (the Raiders fired Allen just four games into that season).

“He left a strong impression with everybody,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said of Carr after their first meeting. “Obviously we’re going to be exploring the veteran quarterback market this offseason and we’re going to look at every available option. We feel like when it’s time to make the right decision when everyone goes through their process, we’re going to make the best decision for the Jets.”

Taking Carr out of the mix reduces some of the leverage the Jets could have with Rodgers and the Packers, but there still are a number of other options that, while perhaps not as enticing, certainly would be an improvement on last season’s play from the position.

The 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo will become a free agent next week but has a long history of injuries, although if the Jets are serious about their positive outlooks with Zach Wilson and Mike White, that might not be as big an obstacle as it is for other teams.

Lamar Jackson of the Ravens and even Daniel Jones of the Giants remain unsigned with their teams, although they could receive franchise tags from their teams by Tuesday’s deadline.

Many thought Ryan Tannehill might become available from the Titans, but new general manager Ran Carthon said last week that he intends to keep him despite the presence of Malik Willis. Other free-agent options include Baker Mayfield, Carson Wentz and Jacoby Brissett.

Rodgers, though, clearly is the biggest draw of the bunch.

He was when Carr was still available. He is even more so now.

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