Aaron Rodgers’ Injury and What It Means for the Jets this Season

Aaron Rodgers’ Injury and What It Means for the Jets this Season

Aaron Rodgers’ 2023 NFL season came to an abrupt end against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football, lasting just 75 seconds and four plays into the game.

Rodgers sustained a torn Achilles after trying to escape from an inevitable sack from Bills defensive end, Leonard Floyd, bringing those hopes to an abrupt end. The New York Jets had been odds on at 18-1 to go to the Super Bowl this year with Rodgers’ arrival but they plummeted to 35-1 at Caesars Sportsbook.

The Jets eventually won the game following a walk-off punt return touchdown from Xavier Gipson but the evening was inevitable overshadowed by Rodgers’ devastating injury. 

Metlife Stadium, where the game was played, has an artificial turf pitch, a matter which has been subject to objection from the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). Injuries on these pitches have become more of a talking point following the game and Green Bay Packers’ offensive tackle David Bakhtiari took to X to express his disdain. 

Star wide receiver Garrett Wilson told ESPN of his exchange with Rodgers after he was carted off the field: “It really hurt my heart. He told me, ‘sorry kid’.”

Tearing an Achilles tendon can be a strenuous recovery for most NFL players even at the start of their career, such was the case with 24-year-old J.K. Dobbins who also suffered a similar injury. With Rodgers being 39 years of age, the injury has well-and-truly cast doubt over his NFL future. 

Podcast host and former Indianapolis Colts punter, Pat McAfee, spoke with Stephen. A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe about his friend Rodgers’ eagerness to play for the Jets: “I haven’t talked to him since the injury, but I’ve talked to people in his very tight circle… This is the best shape he’s been in, the most energised he’s been…”

The number two pick in 2021’s NFL draft, Zach Wilson, will now be tasked with keeping New York’s hopes of a Super Bowl alive in Rodgers’ absence. Wilson, however, has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in his NFL career, pointing to a potentially arduous road ahead. 

Aside from Wilson, the Jets only have former Lions and Packers backup, Tim Boyle on their roster and practice squad. A new quarterback, therefore, looks inevitable.

Former number one overall pick, Jameis Winston of the New Orleans Saints has been touted as a potential trade target. With Derek Carr and Taysom Hill on the roster, a mid-range draft pick may be all that is needed to prise him away from Louisiana.

New York could end up looking at also trading for a rookie quarterback with Dorian Thompson-Robinson at the Browns and Aiden O’Connell at the Raiders, impressing during the pre-season.

Alternatively, the Jets could look to sign a free-agent quarterback to bridge the gap between this season and the next. Players such as Cam Newton, Carson Wentz and former Jet, Joe Flacco are all currently available.

Newton reached Superbowl 50 with the Panthers and won the league MVP award that year. Wentz was a member of the Eagles team that defeated the New England Patriots in Superbowl LII, although he did not play in that game due to injury. Nick Foles, who played in place of Wentz and became the architect of the now legendary “Philly Special” trick play, is also a possible free agent option for the Jets. 

Newton and Wentz have had less success in recent years with Newton having spent time as the bridge quarterback for the New England Patriots in 2020 before re-joining the Panthers the season after. Wentz, on the other hand, was traded in 2021 from the Eagles to the Indianapolis Colts to replace Phillip Rivers under centre, reuniting with former Eagles offensive coordinator, Frank Reich. He was traded once again the following season to the Washington Commanders where he would injure his ring finger and lose his starting role to Taylor Heinicke. He was subsequently released by the Commanders following the conclusion of Superbowl LVII.

Foles had an unsuccessful stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019 and injured his shoulder in week one. He then went 0-3 on his return from week 11 and was replaced by Gardener Minshew. A costly season for the Jaguars who paid Foles $50.1 million for his services that year. Flacco had signed a previous one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Jets before being released in 2021.

Fans not only in New York but across the pond in the UK will be disappointed by the news, as Rodgers’ arrival was not only highly anticipated but one that gave Jets fans hope of a potential Super Bowl-winning campaign.

The Jets have committed to building one of the strongest fan bases outside of America, right here in the UK – as one of the six teams that have been granted marketing, fan engagement and commercialisation rights by the NFL, as part of league’s Global Markets Program (GMP).

The Jets’ British fans, just as those all over the world will be hoping this isn’t the final chapter in the career of one of the NFL’s most storied quarterbacks.

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