In the midst of mounting anticipation for a potential comeback, New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers emphasized on Tuesday that the team’s standing in the playoff race will significantly influence his decision to return this season.
Currently facing a four-game losing streak, the Jets (4-7) find their playoff chances dwindling to less than 1%, as per ESPN Analytics.
Speaking on “The Pat McAfee Show” during his weekly appearance, Rodgers outlined the key considerations influencing his return, stating, “I think it’s always been first, am I healthy? Then, are we in it? Are we playing well enough to make a run? Can I step in and protect myself and play at the level that I feel like I’m capable of playing? Can I move around the way I want to move around?”
Rodgers, who underwent Achilles surgery on September 13, had initially indicated that the Jets’ competitiveness would be a factor in his decision. However, recent speculation suggested he might consider a return regardless of the team’s record. On Tuesday, he clarified that the stakes and the team’s performance will be decisive factors.
With the Jets currently ranking 15th out of 16 teams in the AFC standings, ahead only of the New England Patriots (2-9), Rodgers’ decision is likely to hinge on the outcomes of the next two games against the Atlanta Falcons (5-6) and the Houston Texans (6-5).
Approaching his 40th birthday this Saturday, Rodgers revealed that he is nearing a return to the practice field, stating, “There’s a natural progression here to the rehab, and that’s going to involve actually getting back onto the field to start to do some things that are more football-related.”
However, he emphasized that a decision on playing is pending as he continues to focus on steady improvement in his health. Once the practice window opens, the Jets have 21 days to decide whether to activate him from injured reserve, with Rodgers targeting the Dec. 24 game against the Washington Commanders for a potential return.
Coach Robert Saleh affirmed that if cleared by doctors, the organization won’t impede Rodgers’ return. The team’s medical staff has been in contact with Rodgers’ Los Angeles-based doctor, Neal ElAttrache, who performed the surgery.
Rodgers, running on an Alter G treadmill at 70% of his body weight at 8 mph, is notably ahead of the standard recovery timeline for Achilles surgery. Despite being only 11 weeks post-surgery, he remains focused on the dual criteria of health and playoff contention.
After rehabbing in California, Rodgers has returned to the Jets’ facility on a full-time basis, continuing his program under the team’s training staff while ElAttrache’s team monitors his progress from Los Angeles.
The Jets’ players express admiration for Rodgers’ dedication, with guard Laken Tomlinson noting, “For me, coming in after the game we had, seeing him and how hard he’s been working, that’s the motivation for me.” Linebacker C.J. Mosley echoed this sentiment, expressing happiness at seeing Rodgers healthy and upbeat.