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Aaron Rodgers indicates he won’t play for Jets this season

Aaron Rodgers indicates he won't play for Jets this season

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who captivated the sports world for three months with his bid to return from Achilles surgery faster than any player in NFL history, indicated Tuesday that he won’t play again this season.

But Rodgers intends to play in 2024 and beyond.

An upbeat 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 Sunday, and that cemented Rodgers’ decision.

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

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

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Rodgers’ 21-day practice window closes 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.

If the Jets had kept their faint playoff hopes alive with a victory Sunday over the Miami Dolphins, Rodgers said he would have tried 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 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 publicly refused to cast 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 said the Jets wouldn’t consider playing him unless Rodgers received medical clearance.

Rodgers, perhaps knowing he wouldn’t be cleared, essentially sat himself down.

Looking to the future, Rodgers confirmed that he wants to play beyond 2024, something he strongly suggested in training camp. He said 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 pep talk for the organization and its frustrated fan base, painting a positive outlook for 2024. He offered effusive praise for Saleh, general manager Joe Douglas and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, all of whom are under fire because of the team’s struggles. This was their eighth straight losing season and the 13th consecutive year out of the playoffs.

Rodgers wields 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 complimented 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 said he believes 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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