DECEMBER 3: In keeping with Rodgers’ comments, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Rodgers is not expected to play in a game if the Jets are eliminated from playoff contention by the time he is ready to do so. The 4-7, Tim Boyle-piloted Jets are unlikely to pull themselves back into the postseason picture over the next couple of weeks, which means, as Rapoport observes, that Rodgers probably will not play this year.
For all of Rodgers’ efforts to make an unprecedented return to the field, this always felt like the most plausible outcome. Rapoport says that New York could still activate Rodgers before his activation window closes on December 20, but if that happens, he would only be utilized as the third, emergency QB. And, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Rodgers will not take any starter reps.
NOVEMBER 30: The Jets opened Aaron Rodgers‘ practice window yesterday, giving the team three weeks to decide if they should activate the quarterback to the active roster. As ESPN’s Rich Cimini points out, many believed that Rodgers could be eyeing a return for the December 24 game against the Commanders, and the QB confirmed that’s his target. However, when speaking to reporters today, Rodgers wouldn’t rule out an earlier return, noting that “anything is possible.”
Of course, there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome before Rodgers can enter the starting lineup. While the QB acknowledged how great it felt to return to the practice field, he admitted that he’s “not anywhere near ready to play.” Rodgers also reiterated that the Jets would have to be in playoff contention for him (or the organization) to consider a return this season.
“A comeback this year before the four-month mark would mean I’m not 100 percent healthy, so it’d be a risk for myself,” Rodgers said (via Cimini). “For the team to sign off on if we’re out of it, I’d be surprised if they would OK that to come back.”
While Rodgers noted the “risk” that would accompany an in-season return, he explained that the chance of re-injury wouldn’t have much of an impact on his 2024 availability. While he wouldn’t be 100 percent healthy, Rodgers said there was little “downside” to playing this year, and if he did injure his Achilles, he’d be ready to go in five to six months anyway (per Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic).
While the risk of re-injury won’t have any impact on Rodgers’ desire to play in 2024, it’s uncertain if the Jets’ brass would change his opinion. Per Connor Hughes of SNYtv, Rodgers wouldn’t say if his 2024 plans are tied to the job status of head coach Robert Saleh, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, and/or general manager Joe Douglas.
Rodgers returned to practice on a limited basis yesterday, participating in a handful of seven-on-seven drills. Rodgers sat out today’s practice, and Cimini tweets that these off-days are part of the player’s rehab plan.
“Obviously, I can drop back, I can do some things in a small circle, but I don’t think I can protect myself as well as I’d like to at this point,” Rodgers said. “So I’ve got to do a little more. In practice, I have to take live team reps [in 11 on 11].”