Aaron Rodgers on early return to sinking Jets: ‘Anything is possible’

Field Level Media

December 01, 2023 at 1:30 am.

Dec. 24 was already an incredibly optimistic date for Aaron Rodgers to return from a torn Achilles. But the New York Jets quarterback wouldn’t rule out an even earlier comeback.

“Anything is possible,” Rodgers told Jets beat reporters in his first comments at the team facility since his injury Sept. 11.

Rodgers returned to practice on Wednesday, 11 weeks to the day after surgery to repair his Achilles. Rodgers has continuously said he wants to return this season provided he’s healthy and the team is “alive” in the AFC playoff race.

Christmas Eve is the Jets’ third-to-last regular-season game, at home against the Washington Commanders, so that might not be enough time for Rodgers to singlehandedly resurrect the Jets’ season. New York is 4-7 and mired in a four-game losing streak.

Rodgers — who turns 40 on Saturday — won’t be back for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, but the clock is ticking, especially after the Jets activated his 21-day return-from-IR window.

“It feels great to be on the practice field, but I’m not anywhere near ready to play,” Rodgers said.

Specifically, Rodgers is throwing and working on dropbacks, but at this point in his recovery he is not ready to run at game speed.

“I don’t think I can protect myself as well as I want to at this point,” he said.

Rodgers acknowledged the risk in coming back early — Achilles tears usually sideline NFL players 9-12 months — and the fact that the Jets are a playoff race outsider doesn’t help matters.

“I don’t think that would make a ton of sense,” Rodgers said of coming back to an eliminated team. “I don’t know what the team is going to feel about that … it would be a risk for myself, for the team to sign off on. If we’re out of it, I would be surprised if they would OK that, to come back.”

There’s always next year, as Jets fans have been telling themselves since the late 1960s, but Rodgers’ future with the team is no sure thing.

A day after Jets coach Robert Saleh said the team was under the impression that Rodgers would play for them in 2024, Rodgers was asked if his return next season was tied to Saleh, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and general manager Joe Douglas returning to New York.

Rodgers called it a “trap question.”

“I want to play and I feel like the Johnsons (team ownership) want me to be here,” Rodgers said. “I feel like it’s a really good organizational structure, I feel like Joe has drafted really well, I feel like Robert is a fantastic coach, so is Nathaniel. Those decisions are out of my hands.”