All season long, Jets star quarterback Aaron Rodgers teased a potential comeback despite suffering what was assumed to be a year-ending Achilles injury in his first game with New York.
The Jets opened his 21-day practice window after Week 12, giving the veteran three weeks to try and get back on the field for a historic turnaround from a severe injury. He practiced with the team and even took part in some non-contact drills, teasing the idea that he could be getting closer to playing if he was activated from injured reserve before Week 15.
As the deadline date grew closer, and the Jets continued to lose games to be eliminated from the playoff picture, it became clear that Rodgers would not return this season.
Even after the four-time MVP admitted he wouldn’t be healthy enough to return, the Jets still, surprisingly, elected to activate Rodgers from injured reserve.
“It’s all part of his rehab. Just having him on the field is a plus for everybody, for him and his teammates,” head coach Robert Saleh said following the decision.
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However, Rodgers’ return meant that he’d have to take someone else’s active roster spot. Jets fullback Nick Bawden drew the short straw, getting sent down to the practice squad.
On Tuesday, Rodgers’ addressed the roster spot controversy during his regular appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.”
Aaron Rodgers on Jets roster spot controversy
“I asked to be put on IR because I didn’t want to want to practice at the expense of somebody being cut,” Rodgers told McAfee.
“I didn’t feel like I needed to practice to continue my rehab. I could do on-the-field stuff on the side. Obviously, I got overruled there,” Rodgers said.
“I called Nick right away and let him know this isn’t coming from me,” he continued. “[Bawden] said ‘I’m vested. I’m getting my money, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.'”
It is worth noting that Bawden’s entire one-year, $895,000 contract is guaranteed even if he isn’t active for another game this season.
Rodgers added that had Bawden, who has been dealing with a knee issue, been healthy, “he would have been elevated [in Week 16],” while saying, “he’ll be back up [in Week 17], I’m sure.”
Saleh backed up Rodgers’ side of the story on Tuesday as well, stating that he and Jets general manager Joe Douglas were the ones who decided to activate Rodgers.
Saleh also validated that Rodgers was, indeed, concerned about taking someone’s roster spot.