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Why the Jets are activating Aaron Rodgers off IR even though he won’t play

Aaron Rodgers on Tuesday put to rest any thought of returning to play in the 2023 season, acknowledging that he doesn’t have enough time to get back to 100 percent from his Week 1 Achilles tear.

However, the Jets are still placing the star quarterback on their active roster. New York activated Rodgers off injured reserve on Wednesday, theoretically allowing him to play in one of the Jets’ final three games. But the move was mostly procedural, considering that Wednesday marked the final day that New York could activate Rodgers from injured reserve.

Jets coach Robert Saleh explained to reporters that by activating Rodgers, the quarterback will be able to continue to practice.

“We’re still going to keep him on the active [roster],” Saleh said. “We’ve got the roster flexibility with all of the different things that have happened over the course of the last couple of weeks. It’s all a part of his rehab, and just having him out on the football field is a plus for everybody. It’s a plus for him, it’s a plus for his teammates.

“There will be days where he’s out there and days where he’s not,” Saleh added. “Like I said, we have the roster flexibility. Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t be able to do this.”

Saleh also swatted away any ideas that Rodgers will take the field for game action this season, flatly saying, “He’s not playing.”

Rodgers indicated on Tuesday that he probably wouldn’t play in the Jets’ final three games of the season after the team was eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday.

“I think the whole time it’s been hoping that we’re still in [the playoff race],” Rodgers said on “The Pat McAfee Show.” “I do feel like in the next three to four weeks it would be very possible to get to 100 percent, but [I’m] obviously not there, and so the conversation was away from 100 percent medical clearance to a willingness to play, and that’s never been a problem for me.”

Rodgers’ stance on Tuesday that he likely wouldn’t play again this season was the first time he publicly expressed that sentiment after suffering an Achilles tear in the Jets’ season-opener. Not long after he had surgery, Rodgers insisted that he could return to the field this season but didn’t share a target date.

The Jets opened the door for Rodgers to make a return on Nov. 29, activating his 21-day practice window. The move gave the Jets three weeks to either activate Rodgers or shut him down for the season.

There was some outcry about the handling of the situation following Wednesday’s announcement, which will make the Jets use a roster spot on a player who won’t play in the team’s final three games.

“This entire thing has been an utter farce and I’m amazed that the entire Jets franchise isn’t mortified by it,” FOX Sports’ Nick Wright wrote in a pair of social media posts criticizing the move.

” … It’s been outright shocking to me how many otherwise sober minded media members have been taking Rodgers’ ludicrous proclamations at face value,” Wright added in another.

Rodgers is under contract for 2024, signing an extension with the Jets following his massive trade from the Packers over the offseason. Both sides have expressed that the plan is for Rodgers to be New York’s starting quarterback in 2024.

As for who will start for the Jets in the last three games of this season, that is still up in the air. Zach Wilson remains in concussion protocol after leaving Sunday’s loss against the Dolphins with a head injury. Wilson became the Jets’ starting quarterback following Rodgers’ injury in Week 1 and briefly lost the role in Weeks 12 and 13 before regaining the job in Week 14.

Trevor Siemian and Brett Rypien are the only other quarterbacks on the Jets’ roster.

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