Robert Saleh’s worst fears for Aaron Rodgers’ injury came to fruition on Tuesday, as the New York Jets head coach confirmed earlier reports that an MRI revealed the veteran quarterback has a torn Achilles and will miss the rest of the 2023 season.

“He is out for the year, he needs surgery,” Saleh told reporters Tuesday. “I just don’t have any (further) details.”

Rodgers, who the Jets traded for this offseason, played just four snaps in New York’s season-opening win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday. He left the game after being sacked by the Bills’ Leonard Floyd and was replaced by embattled former Jets starter Zach Wilson.

What does it mean for Aaron Rodgers?

After the 39-year-old Rodgers was sent to New York after 18 seasons with the Green Bay Packers, he reworked his contract that works out basically to a three-year, $112.5 million deal with $75 million in fully guaranteed money in 2023 and 2024, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini.

Considering his age, what does the injury mean for his future?

Related
How serious is Aaron Rodgers’ injury? What it means for the veteran Jets QB and Zach Wilson
Why Aaron Rodgers joined the New York Jets

SNY’s Connor Hughes, who covers the Jets, speculated that it could put his football career moving forward in serious doubt.

“I think that’s seriously in doubt. The rehab for an Achilles is grueling. Seldom are those who return from it ever the same. Is that something Rodgers wants to put himself through at 40?” Hughes wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “There’s always been a tag when he talked about playing multiple years with the Jets — ‘health.’ Rodgers always said that at the end of every remark on his future. This is a major blow to the health.”

Saleh shared his frustration for the situation Rodgers now faces — “I feel so much for his journey,” the coach said — and added the two haven’t spoken about the quarterback’s future at this point. Saleh also emphasized multiple times that Rodgers’ absence won’t change expectations for the team this year.

“He’s invested so much into this organization, wanting to be a part of what we got going here,” Saleh said of Rodgers. “I have a lot of emotions for him.”

Following Monday’s game, Wilson’s thoughts were toward Rodgers, who’s become a mentor for him in New York.

“I’ve so much love for him (Rodgers), my heart goes out. I know he’ll find a way to get back. It’s tough, it hurts us as a team,” Wilson said, per the team website.

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) is helped off the field during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. | Adam Hunger, Associated Press

What does it mean for Zach Wilson?

The plan going into 2023 for Wilson was to sit behind Rodgers and learn — a reset period, as Saleh called it for the third-year quarterback before the team brought in Rodgers.

Wilson entered the league two years ago as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft and immediately became the franchise’s starting quarterback. He struggled during the past two seasons, particularly last year, when Wilson was benched twice.

Saleh made it clear, though, he’s seen clear improvement for Wilson since last year, particularly on the mental side of things.

“Zach is our quarterback. We’re excited for him and this opportunity,” Saleh said. “He is so much different than this time a year ago. He’s in a great frame of mind.”

After entering the game for Rodgers on Monday, Wilson completed 14 of 21 passes for 140 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The Jets trailed Buffalo 13-3 at halftime after Wilson’s second-quarter interception — when he failed to look off the linebacker and it resulted in an easy pick for the Bills’ Matt Milano — led to a Buffalo field goal. 

Wilson was sacked twice as New York struggled for much of the night to get things going offensively, though the Jets scored a fourth-quarter touchdown to tie the game at 13-13.

Wilson capped the eight-play, 57-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson, where the wide receiver tipped the pass to himself in tight coverage before reeling it in for the touchdown as he fell down. Zach Wilson converted two third downs on the drive through the air.

Now, Wilson is QB1 again for the Jets, with the mantle that comes with it in New York.

“This is Zach’s team, and we’re rolling with Zach,” Saleh said. “We still think Zach is fully capable of executing the offense.”

Saleh added, “He is leap years ahead of where he was a year ago.”

Will the Jets add another quarterback?

The Jets placed Rodgers on injured reserve Tuesday, leaving Wilson as the only quarterback on New York’s active roster currently, while fifth-year pro Tim Boyle is on the team’s practice squad. 

Saleh said the team is looking at additional quarterback options while adding that any quarterback brought in won’t be in competition with Wilson for the starting job — Wilson is the guy in charge.

Former New York quarterback Joe Flacco is currently a free agent and hasn’t officially retired; the same goes for veteran Matt Ryan. Among younger options, Carson Wentz is also a free agent.

Flacco has interest in returning to help the team, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini.

The Athletic’s Zach Rosenblatt took a look at 19 different quarterbacks who could fill a need for New York, including each of the above names while adding other free agents like Nick Foles and Colt McCoy.

“He’s prone to turnovers and isn’t considered a great leader — but few know Wentz as well as Jets general manager Joe Douglas, who was there when the Eagles made him the No. 2 pick in 2016,” Rosenblatt said about Wentz, perhaps the most obvious addition.

Rosenblatt also suggested several possible quarterbacks the Jets could trade for, including one that would interest Utah fans: Tyler Huntley, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback who is currently the backup to Lamar Jackson.

“Inexplicably, he made the Pro Bowl last year, a flaw in the voting after he threw two touchdowns and three interceptions with the Ravens. But he’s a dual threat, which might be needed if the Jets’ offensive line keeps playing like it did in Week 1,” Rosenblatt wrote of Huntley.