The Jets’ decision to activate Aaron Rodgers off injured reserve last week surprised many, including the quarterback himself.
Rodgers said he didn’t want to be activated from injured reserve after he came to the conclusion that he wouldn’t be able to play again this season, saying on the “Pat McAfee Show” that it was the team’s idea to make the move.
“I assumed I was going to go on IR,” Rodgers said. “I asked to be put on IR, but then there was a conversation, ‘Do you want to practice?’ I said not at the expense of somebody getting cut. I know how this works.
“I didn’t feel like I needed to practice to continue my rehab. I could do on-the-field stuff on the side, but, obviously, I got overruled there. It is what it is. This was an interesting situation.”
Jets coach Robert Saleh corroborated Rodgers’ statement when he spoke with reporters on Tuesday.
“[Rodgers] expressed concern about taking up someone’s roster spot and all that stuff, and what it meant,” Saleh said. “But like I told you guys, we had roster flexibility, just like we told him, and we had the ability to do it. And so, we did.”
The Jets had to decide on whether to activate Rodgers by Dec. 20 after opening his three-week practice window on Nov. 29, which allowed him to practice with the team for three weeks without leaving injured reserve. If the Jets decided not to activate Rodgers, he would’ve remained on injured reserve for the remainder of the season and wouldn’t have been able to practice with the team.
New York elected to place Rodgers on its 53-man active roster, with Saleh originally telling reporters on Wednesday that the team had the roster flexibility to use a roster spot on a player who won’t play. But the decision cost fullback Nick Bawden his spot on the team, which Rodgers said he felt bad about.
“I called Nick right away,” Rodgers said. “I just said, ‘Hey, I hope you know this isn’t coming from me. I asked to be put on IR.’ He actually said, ‘Hey, look, I’m vested. I’m getting my money. I’m fine.'”
Bawden rejoined the Jets on their practice squad shortly after his release. His $1.1 million salary for the season was already fully guaranteed because he was on the team’s opening-day roster.
It’s mind-boggling that Jets would activate Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers had hoped to return to play this season as he pushed to make an unprecedented return from his Week 1 Achilles tear. The quarterback insisted throughout the year that he would be returning to action at some point, but didn’t set a target date for his return. When he appeared on the “Pat McAfee Show” on Dec. 19, he resigned himself to the idea that he wouldn’t be playing again in 2023 after the Jets were eliminated from playoff contention. But Rodgers has still been on the practice field, participating in some 11-on-11 sessions.
As the Jets make preparations for 2024, both Rodgers and the Jets have expressed a desire for the quarterback to return to Gang Green in 2024. He signed a multi-year extension following his trade from the Packers in the offseason. If Rodgers is still in New York, he won’t have to worry about a regime change. Jets owner Woody Johnson told the New York Post on Sunday that both Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas would be back next year.
But before the Jets can fully move forward to 2024, they still have two games left to play in 2023. They face the Browns on Thursday and will have Trevor Siemian start for the second straight game as Zach Wilson remains in concussion protocol, Saleh told reporters.
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