Rich CiminiESPN Writer4 minute read
FLORHAM PARK, NJ — New York Jets coach Robert Saleh wants all that wishlist talk to go away. Perhaps trying to shield Aaron Rodgers from criticism, Saleh said Friday it was a “dumb story” to say the Jets were signing former Rodgers teammates just because the new quarterback was pulling the strings.
The Jets added four former Green Bay Packers – receiver Allen Lazard, quarterback Tim Boyle, tackle Billy Turner and receiver Randall Cobb, who signed a one-year contract on Wednesday.
“It’s very common for new faces to want old faces, to come and help speed up the installation of a whole program,” Saleh said at the start of the rookie minicamp. “It’s all pinned on the quarterback. It’s not just him.
“[Offensive coordinator Nathaniel] Hackett has something to say about that. He loves Lazard. He loves Randall. He took Billy Turner with him to Denver, and he wanted him here. Of course, you’re going to surround a coach with people who he thinks are going to plant the flag.
“All this narrative — what people try to put on the quarterback — it’s tired. It’s standard practice in the NFL.”
Hackett knows all four players, having been the Packers’ offensive coordinator from 2019-2021. Saleh noted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did the same with Tom Brady, adding two players he wanted – tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Rodgers’ so-called wishlist was reported in March by ESPN’s Dianna Russini. At the time, Rodgers downplayed the report, but acknowledged that he shared his thoughts on his favorite players during a meeting with the Jets brass at his home in Malibu, Calif.
Lazard and Cobb were on the list. Much like tight end Marcedes Lewis and wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., the Jets pursued Beckham in free agency — and even planned a visit — but he opted to sign with the Baltimore Ravens.
When asked if they were interested in Lewis, Saleh smiled and said, “You never know.”
Rodgers and Cobb, teammates for 10 seasons, are extremely close. When Rodgers left Lambeau Field after the 2022 Finals, knowing it might be his last game in a Packers uniform, he made sure Cobb was by his side.
Cobb, 32, joins a crowded receiving corps.
The Jets also have Garrett Wilson (the 2022 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year), Corey Davis and newcomers Mecole Hardman and Lazard. There has been a lot of speculation about Davis’ place on the roster. He just finished two injury-plagued seasons and has a cap charge of $11.2 million, with an unsecured salary of $10.5 million.
“He’s going to be part of the team,” Saleh said of Davis.
Meanwhile, Saleh continued to gush about Rodgers’ early impact, saying, “I’ve never been around a quarterback quite like him.” Rodgers impressed with his ability to communicate with his teammates on and off the pitch, according to Saleh.
Having Rodgers participate in voluntary practices is a break from his recent past at Green Bay, but he wants to use this time to build chemistry with his new teammates and acclimate to a new environment.
“You see a fire in the guy’s eyes when you sit down and talk to him,” Saleh said. “He comes here to win.”