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Aaron Rodgers Suffers Season-ending Injury: Options For Jets If Four-time MVP QB Decides To Retire | TheSportsDay Aaron Rodgers Suffers Season-ending Injury: Options For Jets If Four-time MVP QB Decides To Retire | TheSportsDay

Aaron Rodgers suffers season-ending injury: Options for Jets if four-time MVP QB decides to retire

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For a fleeting moment, the Jets had promise of seriously contending for a Super Bowl in 2023 thanks to the offseason blockbuster that sent four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers to New York this offseason. However, after just four plays into his tenure and without even completing a pass for the franchise, Rodgers suffered a torn Achilles, which has put a swift end to his season. 

While 2023 is out of the question, the next situation that we’ll all be monitoring is whether or not this is it for Rodgers, with the quarterback potentially opting to retire instead of trying to claw back for 2024. While Rodgers is an elite competitor and likely doesn’t want this to be the way his NFL story ends, it’s fair to question. After all, the 19-year veteran is going to turn 40 in December and this injury is typically a grueling one to come back from even for a spring chicken, which he is not. 

So, with that in mind, let’s take our first steps down the path of Rodgers possibly walking away and what that could look like for the Jets. What would be their next step at the position that has cursed them for decades? Here are some options. 

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This would be arguably the biggest — and most realistic — swing they can take from the players in the league and outside of the organization. Cousins is entering the final year of his contract with the Vikings and the two sides have tabled extension talks until the offseason. However, whenever asked about Cousins’ future in Minnesota, the Vikings brass — including co-owner Mark Wilf — haven’t exactly been firm in saying they want to keep him long term, which opens up the possibility of him leaving.  

Cousins doesn’t present the same ceiling of in-game play as Rodgers, but he’d be more than capable of managing the offense and would be able to help lead this team on a playoff run. The 35-year-old would be a shorter-term option for New York given where he’s at in his career but, similar to Rodgers, his arrival would put them back into the conversation of contending in the AFC. He’s also been durable throughout his career, playing in at least 15 games since 2015, which shouldn’t be overlooked given the situation they find themselves in now. 

Cousins wouldn’t come cheap, however, and the Jets have $23.3 million in available salary cap space in 2024 (via Over the Cap), so there would need to be some gymnastics done to financially facilitate this partnership. 

Sign Drew Lock in free agency

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Instead of looking for Rodgers-lite as we did with Cousins above, this would be more in the realm of looking for Zach Wilson-plus with the Jets pursuing Seahawks quarterback Drew Lock in free agency. Lock re-signed with Seattle this offseason to back up Geno Smith, but will hit the open market again next offseason. The former second-round pick is still only 26 years old and has shown improvement since flaming out in Denver. This preseason, Lock was efficient with a 69.1 completion percentage and averaged over 8 yards per pass attempt. 

Of course, Lock doesn’t have the same ceiling as Rodgers, but he’d be a cheaper option for New York and, as things stand currently, would give them a higher floor than what they have with Wilson. Who knows? Maybe Lock could be the latest to enjoy a late-career breakout similar to Smith with the Seahawks and Ryan Tannehill when he first arrived in Tennessee. Even if they get average play at the quarterback position — which they’d likely be looking at here with Lock — New York has a roster talented enough to fight for a playoff spot. 

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This isn’t the road that many Jets fans will be too eager to go down, but it’s still on the table for Wilson to be this team’s quarterback going forward. I wrote back during the offseason that Rodgers’ arrival actually gives Wilson his best shot at being the future in New York because it’ll give him the necessary time to develop behind his idol. Of course, did I expect that time in Rodgers’ shadow to last four plays? No. However, I do think there is less pressure on Wilson than there has ever been. He’s no longer trying to live up to his No. 2 overall pick status (the Rodgers trade shattered that). Instead, he’s merely being asked to keep the team afloat, which could be a more realistic view. 

Does that lessened pressure result in better play? Only time will tell. If Wilson plays well enough this season in Rodgers’ absence, however, it’s possible the team will give him another crack at being the starter as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. 

Select a new QB in the 2024 NFL Draft

The underlying development from Rodgers’ injury is that New York will not give the Packers its 2024 first-round pick. Under the parameters of their blockbuster trade this offseason, Green Bay would’ve received the Jets first-round pick in 2024 under the condition that Rodgers played at least 65% of the offensive snaps. Now that he’s out for the season and will not meet that threshold, the Packers will receive the team’s second-round pick next year instead. 

So, that gives the Jets another solid avenue to find their next quarterback if Rodgers does, in fact, call it a career. Where that pick lands, however, will be key. 

There’s a scenario, however unlikely given how talented their roster is, that the Wilson 2.0 experiment completely bottoms out and the Jets fall to the worst record in the league. Under that circumstance, the choice is easy — select USC star Caleb Williams and celebrate. If they are not completely at the bottom of the league but own one of the worst records, then they’d fall into the Drake Maye area of the draft as the UNC signal-caller is expected to be a top-five selection. If they are a .500 club, then it’s possible Texas’ Quinn Ewers or Duke’s Riley Leonard could be a target in the middle of the first round depending on how their 2023 collegiate seasons unfold. 

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