Maybe Aaron Rodgers isn't returning this season after all

Aaron Rodgers might not actually be returning in 2023
NY Jets, Aaron Rodgers
NY Jets, Aaron Rodgers / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

NY Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been eyeing a miraculous return to the field after just a few months on the sideline with a torn Achilles. What Rodgers is attempting to do is nothing short of unprecedented in the world of sports medicine.

However, with his team's playoff hopes shrinking by the week, does Rodgers really want to return to play meaningless games down the stretch?

Initially, the assumption was that Rodgers would only return this season if the Jets were still in playoff contention. His stance seemed to soften on that, though, with reports over the last two weeks suggesting Rodgers was planning to return no matter what.

That said, Rodgers' recent comments on The Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday once again suggest that he only plays to return if the Jets can still make the postseason.

Given that the Jets have roughly a one percent chance at making the playoffs at the time of writing, it sure seems as though a miraculous Rodgers return might not happen after all.

"It's always been, first, am I healthy? Then, are we alive? Are we in it? Are we playing good enough to make a run? Can I step in and protect myself and play at the level that I'm capable of playing? But it's health first and are we alive for the playoffs, second."

Aaron Rodgers

Is Aaron Rodgers going to return this season?

One would think that Rodgers wouldn't be willing to rush his way back to play games that have no bearing on his team's playoff chances. If anything, winning those games would directly hurt Rodgers and the Jets going into the offseason.

But a report from Fox Sports' Jay Glazer last week suggested that Rodgers' primary goal wasn't necessarily helping his team. Perhaps Rodgers wants to return just to prove that he can do it.

There's also the thought process that Rodgers could return as a way of proving that this Jets offense could work with him in it. After all, the expectation is that the Jets plan to run it back with the same regime in 2024. Rodgers wants to provide some optimism entering the offseason.

Still, it's probably not worth it if his health is at risk. The Jets' 2024 season is predicated on a healthy Rodgers returning and playing at a Super Bowl-caliber level. Any sort of re-injury to his torn Achilles could jeopardize that plan.

If Rodgers is to be believed, he's seemingly aware of that. At the same time, it's easy to speculate that this could just be another motivational ploy on the part of Rodgers. Perhaps he wants to give his team an added incentive to keep winning games.

The assumption is still that Rodgers will be designated to return from the injured reserve as soon as next week. Even if the Jets are out of playoff contention, Rodgers seems likely to return to practice at a bare minimum.

Whether he's actually activated to play in a game is anyone's guess. Rodgers insists that he'll only return if his team still has a chance at the postseason. Do you believe him?