The New York Jets are in serious talks with the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre’s agent about acquiring the legendary quarterback, a source said on Thursday.
The Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only teams that have permission to speak with Favre about a potential trade for now. Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, has been in talks with the Jets, who have shown a growing interest, but has not been working closely with the Buccaneers, according to two sources.
Favre would have to sign off on any trade, because if he refuses to report to the new team’s training camp, the deal would be voided. The extent of Cook’s talks with the Jets means Favre at least is considering playing for them. New York was 4-12 last season, but in 2006, coach Eric Mangini’s first season, the Jets went 10-6 and earned a wild-card berth in the AFC playoffs.
In exchange for Favre, Ted Thompson, the Packers’ general manager, has been seeking a draft pick that could escalate to a higher pick based on Favre’s and the new team’s performance, though it’s unclear what the starting point for that compensation would be.
Ever since Favre made clear in late June he wanted to end his brief retirement, Thompson and the Packers have stated repeatedly they plan to move forward with Aaron as their starting quarterback. Thompson had hoped Favre would remain retired, but the quarterback has been adamant about returning and asked for his release after Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy made clear they were sticking with Rodgers and wouldn’t open the job for competition.
Thompson has refused to cut Favre for fear he’d sign with NFC North Division rival Minnesota, and until Thursday was having trouble finding a new team that was agreeable to both the Packers and Favre. Favre, though, can force the Packers’ hand by showing up to training camp, because the team is desperate to avoid the chaotic scene his presence would cause at practice with a large contingent of passionate and vocal fans scrutinizing Favre’s and Rodgers’ every move.
Favre was ready to begin his return to the Packers on Thursday afternoon, when he was scheduled to board a private plane to Green Bay, but the flight was delayed multiple times and then apparently canceled.
It’s no coincidence that for a third straight day NFL commissioner Roger Goodell declined to act on Favre’s request for reinstatement from the reserve/retired list to give the Packers time to resolve the situation. That Goodell delayed reinstating Favre on Thursday indicates the sides have made progress toward a resolution.
“The Packers and Brett Favre are continuing their discussions,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail to the Press-Gazette Thursday. “The commissioner preferred to let those discussions continue rather than act on the reinstatement petition today.”
Of the teams the Packers have contacted, the Jets and Tampa Bay are the only ones to pursue the matter seriously, and Tampa Bay’s interest in Favre might have increased Thursday when veteran Jeff Garcia strained his calf and had to be carted off the practice field.
As it stands, though, the Jets have the more tenuous quarterback situation. Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens are competing for the starting job; Pennington never has been the same since suffering a shoulder injury in 2004, and Clemens was ineffective in 10 games (eight starts) last year, throwing 10 interceptions and only five touchdown passes.
The Packers’ preference all along, if they trade Favre, has been to deal him to a team outside the NFC North Division and, if possible, to an AFC team such as the Jets. But if the Jets can’t convince Favre to play for them, Thompson might not have the luxury of ruling out any team interested in Favre — even the division rival Minnesota Vikings, against whom the Packers have filed tampering charges for their contact with Favre.
Mark Murphy, the Packers’ president and chief executive officer, on Wednesday had a daylong meeting with Favre and Cook in Cook’s Mississippi law office and offered Favre as much as $20 million over 10 years if he stays retired. Favre, who announced his retirement in March, and Cook have said for nearly a month that Favre wants to be released, a request Thompson has denied.
The Packers, who did not practice Thursday, return to the practice field for the first of two sessions at 8:45 a.m. Friday. Barring a drastic and speedy turn of events, Favre will not be there.