The New York Jets signed former Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers this offseason, but he is far from the only player that's passed through Green Bay that the team has added as we head into the 2023 season. There were reports that Rodgers had a wish list before joining the Jets, consisting of players he wanted New York to acquire.
Head coach Robert Saleh addressed those reports on Friday and discussed if he spoke to Rodgers about what players he wanted the Jets to have. Saleh did not hold back on his response, calling it "silly."
"So, I can try to say this as respectfully as I can — I'm not attacking anyone. It's just that I do think it's a silly narrative, with regards to a 'wish list,'" Saleh said (via NBC Sports). "And I say that because there's 32 teams in the NFL. And it's common practice for when there's changes, when you have a new coaching staff, when you have people coming in, that you surround those people with people they're familiar with."
He continued, using other examples of players going to a team and adding players they are familiar with.
"I had a wish list — Solomon Thomas, Marcell Harris, D.J. Reed, Kwon Alexander — guys who I've worked with who were very familiar with our messaging, very familiar with our scheme, who can come in and play," Saleh said. "We had it on offense with Laken Tomlinson, Tevin Coleman and guys who have been in the system. Shoot, Tom Brady goes to Tampa and he gets [Rob] Gronkowski and Antonio Brown. So, it is very common for new faces to want old faces — to be able to come in and accelerate the installation of a program."
While Rodgers may have the spotlight on him and be the one people point to when former Packers join the Jets, he is not the only one with the Packers on his resume. Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was with the Packers from 2019 to 2021 as their OC.
"Everything's being pinned on the quarterback — it's not just him," Saleh said. "Hackett has something to say about it. He loves Lazard, loves Randall, took Billy Turner with him to Denver and wanted him here in [New York]. So, of course you're going to surround a coach with people who he feels will be able to plant the flag. So, that whole narrative of whatever people are trying to put on the quarterback, I think it's tired."
While familiarity with the quarterback can be a bonus, New York is not putting all its importance on players Rodgers already knows. Saleh made it clear that the team will make decisions based on who is the best fit for New York.
The players the Jets added that Rodgers has already played with have more than just experience playing with the former Super Bowl champion, Saleh says they also have the general qualities he looks for to add to his squad.
"At the end of the day, the best 53 will be on the football team," Saleh said. "And then the best 11 will be on the football field when it's time to snap the ball. But at the same time, the reason why we're excited to bring those guys in is because they stand for everything we believe in. Look at Allen Lazard, he came in as an undrafted free agent and he's got all this unbelievable ability to him and he's made himself. Randall has such an amazing amount of experience. Billy Turner has so much experience. But they're internally driven individuals who just want to win football games. And they love the game of football."
He continued, saying, "And it's like, well why wouldn't you bring them in to help accelerate and plant the flag and echo the message that Nathaniel and his staff are trying to accomplish?"