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Aaron Rodgers Indicates That He Won’t Return to NFL This Season

Aaron Rodgers (Credits: NFL)

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who captured the sports world’s attention with his attempt to return from Achilles surgery faster than any player in NFL history, indicated on Tuesday that he won’t play again this season.

However, Rodgers plans to play in 2024 and beyond.

An optimistic Rodgers, appearing on “The Pat McAfee Show,” said a return to action would have been “an absolute no-brainer” for a playoff game. But the Jets (5-9) were eliminated from postseason contention on Sunday, which cemented Rodgers’ decision.

“If I was 100 percent today, I’d be definitely pushing to play,” he stated. “But the fact is, I’m not.”

Rodgers, who underwent surgery on September 13, acknowledged it was always “unrealistic to think that I would be 100 percent to be medically cleared at any point during the regular season.” Yet, the four-time MVP was willing to play and take the risk if the Jets still had a shot at the postseason.

Rodgers’ 21-day practice window closes on Wednesday. If the Jets don’t activate him, it means the 40-year-old quarterback will remain on injured reserve for the final three weeks.

The Jets’ only reason to activate Rodgers would be to allow him to continue practicing, but that seems unlikely because he’d take up a spot on the 53-man roster.

Had the Jets kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Rodgers said he would have attempted 11-on-11 practice reps this week to test his surgically repaired Achilles. Even then, he would have needed to “check all the boxes” before receiving medical clearance. His goal was to return for the Jets’ game on Sunday against the Washington Commanders.

“There’s always a fear about rerupture if you’re going too fast,” he said Tuesday. “But this allows me to — I’m not going to slow my rehab down. I’m going to keep attacking it every single day, but now, without a timetable to come back, obviously, we can be as smart as we need to be.”

The Jets have publicly refrained from casting any negative aspersions on Rodgers’ comeback bid, however improbable it seemed. Coach Robert Saleh said Monday that Rodgers “wants to play, let’s not confuse that one.” Saleh also emphasized that the Jets wouldn’t consider playing him unless Rodgers received medical clearance.

Aaron Rodgers (Credits: Bill Kostroun)

Rodgers, perhaps knowing he wouldn’t be cleared, effectively sidelined himself.

Looking ahead, Rodgers confirmed his desire to play beyond 2024, something he strongly suggested during training camp. He mentioned his intention was to play at least two seasons for the Jets, who acquired him in an April trade with the Green Bay Packers. His first season lasted only four plays before the injury, sending the Jets into a tailspin.

“I feel like this year is kind of a lost year now that I’ve only played a couple snaps and wasn’t able to go out there and prove what I’m capable of and see what we’re capable of as a team,” he said.

“I feel like I can play more years and I can be effective into my 40s, which is crazy. I thought that I’d probably be sitting on the couch somewhere at 40, but now I want to be a starter at 40. I want to be a starter at 41. I want to see what I can get out of this body.”

Rodgers turned his weekly appearance with McAfee into a motivational talk for the organization and its frustrated fan base, projecting a positive outlook for 2024.

He offered high praise for Saleh, general manager Joe Douglas, and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, all of whom are under scrutiny due to the team’s struggles. This was their eighth consecutive losing season and the 13th straight year out of the playoffs.

Rodgers holds considerable influence within the organization, so his endorsements will carry weight with owner Woody Johnson.

“I believe in the leadership that we have here,” Rodgers said. “I believe in our guys. I think it’s not a situation where we have to rebuild. We need to reload a little bit, and there’ll be some tough decisions for sure, but I like the pieces that we have in place.”

Rodgers praised Douglas for “great drafts and a great roster.” He called Saleh a “fantastic coach,” noting that injuries have played a role in the disappointing year. Rodgers expressed confidence in Hackett despite a historically poor year by the offense.

“I think the offense that he runs is quarterback-friendly,” Rodgers said. “Obviously, it was geared around me and my abilities and what I do well.”

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