Jets’ Saleh: Narrative of Rodgers’ wish list ‘silly’

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets coach Robert Saleh wishes all this talk about a wish list would go away. Perhaps trying to shield Aaron Rodgers from criticism, Saleh said Friday it’s a “silly narrative” to say the Jets are signing former Rodgers teammates simply because the new quarterback is pulling the strings.

The Jets have added four ex-Green Bay Packers — wide receiver Allen Lazard, quarterback Tim Boyle, tackle Billy Turner and receiver Randall Cobb, who signed a one-year contract Wednesday.

“It’s very common for new faces to want old faces, to come in and help accelerate the installation of an entire program,” Saleh said at the start of rookie minicamp. “Everything is pinned on the quarterback. It’s not just him.

“[Offensive coordinator Nathaniel] Hackett has something to say about it. 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 feels like will plant the flag.

“That whole narrative — what people are trying to put on the quarterback — it’s tired. It’s common practice in the NFL.”

Hackett is familiar with all four players, having served as the Packers’ offensive coordinator from 2019 to 2021. Saleh noted that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did the same thing with Tom Brady, adding two players that he wanted — tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Antonio Brown.

Rodgers’ so-called wish list was reported in March by ESPN’s Dianna Russini. At the time, Rodgers downplayed the report, but acknowledged that he had shared his thoughts about his favorite players in a sitdown with Jets brass at his home in Malibu, California.

Lazard and Cobb were on the list. So were tight end Marcedes Lewis and wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. The Jets pursued Beckham in free agency — and even had a visit scheduled — but he opted to sign with the Baltimore Ravens.

Asked if they have interest in Lewis, Saleh smiled and said, “You never know.”

Rodgers and Cobb, teammates for 10 seasons, are extremely close. When Rodgers walked off Lambeau Field after the 2022 finale, knowing it might be his final game in a Packers uniform, he made sure that Cobb was at 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’ roster spot. He’s coming off two injury-plagued seasons and has an $11.2 million cap charge, with a non-guaranteed salary of $10.5 million.

“He’s going to be on 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 has impressed with his ability to communicate with teammates on and off the field, according to Saleh.

That Rodgers is participating in voluntary workouts is a departure from his recent past in Green Bay, but he want to use this time to build chemistry with his new teammates and get acclimated in new surroundings.

“You see a fire in the guy’s eye when you sit down and talk to him,” Saleh said. “He’s coming here to win.”