One of the biggest stories of the offseason was the Curious Case of Aaron Rodgers. The football world watched and waited to see what uniform the age-39 quarterback would decide to wear for the 2023 season. Rodgers even spent time in a “darkness retreat” that he anticipated would help him clear his mind and focus his thoughts on his future.
In the end, none of it mattered.
Or did it?
After making the decision to end his 18-year marriage to the Green Bay Packers and agreed to allow his now-former team to trade him to the New York Jets, Rodgers changed cities, changed shades of green uniforms, changed his number from 12 to 8, and changed offenses. For four plays. Yes, his 2023 season lasted less than three minutes.
On Monday Night Football, as the Jets played host to the division rival Buffalo Bills, Rodgers was sacked by Bills’ edge rusher Leonard Floyd on just his fourth play behind his new offensive line. After the sack, Rodgers briefly stood before having a seat on the ground where he waited for Jets training staff to arrive. It didn’t take long for trainers to get Rodgers upright and help him hobble off the field.
It wasn’t long before a cart was headed to the blue medical tent on the Jets sideline and Rodgers could be seen climbing on board with a boot on his left foot. Initial reports were a possible ankle sprain and that X-rays taken while quarterback Zach Wilson replaced the future Hall of Famer on the field were negative.
Aaron Rodgers leaves the X-Ray room after about 6 minutes. He is wearing an FDNY hat. (credit: Sal Paolantonio) pic.twitter.com/Doi3itN9QB— Dianna Russini (@DMRussini) September 12, 2023
After the game, however, head coach Robert Saleh gave a grimmer picture saying that the team feared the worst — an Achilles’ tear — and would wait for MRIs on Tuesday to confirm the diagnosis.
Hadn’t seen this angle of the Aaron Rodgers injury but here’s its clear as day.— Jeff Mueller, PT, DPT (@jmthrivept) September 12, 2023
This is the example of a calf “tremble”, or “flutter”, or “twitch/tremor”.
Descriptions of the Achilles tendon rupturing & calf reverberating.
Tuesday resulted in the confirmation: the quarterback that the Jets had bet their franchise on was out for the remainder of the season. After just four offensive plays, Aaron Rodgers’ season with the Jets was over.
An MRI confirmed today that Aaron Rodgers officially tore his Achilles on the fourth play of his Jets’ career.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 12, 2023
Rodgers’ season now, officially, is over. There already are questions about whether his Hall-of-Fame career is, too.
So, while that means surgery and rehab for the 39-year-old Rodgers, what does it mean for the Jets — and, ultimately, the Packers who had as much invested in the quarterback playing a full season as anyone.
Initially, the Packers were supposed to get a first-round pick from the Jets in the 2024 draft. But… that was only going to happen if Rodgers played in at least 65% of the Jets’ offensive plays. Obviously, that’s not going to happen seeing as he didn’t even play 50% of their snaps in Week 1. Now, the Packers will receive a second-round pick from the Jets instead. That’s a big drop depending on where the Jets end their season.
As for the Jets, who also gave up the 13th, 42nd, and 207th draft picks in the 2023 draft, they are still on the hook for a large sum of money — all counted against the team’s salary cap. While New York is only on the books for a $8.8 million cap hit for 2023, if Rodgers doesn’t retire, the Jets will have a $17.1 million dead-cap hit in 2024 and carry $49 million in dead-cap money into 2025 should they choose to release the by-then-40-year-old quarterback next offseason.
Regardless of the money outcome, Rodgers kept teams guessing and waiting for months during the offseason. He went on his strange retreat and then came back still not declaring what his decision about where he would play his next down of football would be. The Jets spent a lot of money (and players) on him. There was a lot of hype for this season. For it all to crash down after four plays.