New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers is eyeing a historic return
When Aaron Rodgers refused to rule out a return in the 2023-24 season during his Thursday interview with Pat McAfee, most scoffed at the idea. But now, according to reports, it’s starting to appear that a return in the upcoming playoffs is a real possibility.
In a piece published on Saturday night, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport revealed the New York Jets quarterback is eyeing a “stunning return date”. Rapoport discussed an “innovative medical technique” that makes a playoff return “at least conceivable”.
#Jets QB Aaron Rodgers is eyeing a stunning return date following surgery to repair his torn Achilles. And thanks to an innovative medical technique, being back for the playoffs is, at least, conceivable.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 17, 2023
Rapoport writes, “Sources say renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache and his team performed a procedure to place an internal brace — called an Achilles ‘speed bridge’ — on Rodgers’ fully torn left Achilles, which he ruptured just four snaps into Monday’s game against the Bills. While there are no guarantees, the speed bridge protects the repair and opens up the possibility of an earlier return, sources say.”
Per Rapoport, the technique could have Rodgers back on the field in as little as four months. He writes, “It’s a relatively new process designed to have an athlete fully recovered in as little as four months from what is normally a season-ending injury, per sources informed of the procedure.”
Rams running back Cam Akers is known for having the fastest recovery from an Achilles injury among professional athletes. Akers tore his Achilles on July 20, 2021, and he returned to the active roster on December 25 of that same year, marking just over five months since his injury.
Rodgers tore his Achilles on September 11. That’s exactly five months out from Super Bowl LVIII, which is scheduled for February 11 in Las Vegas.
If Rodgers were to miraculously return in four months, that would peg him at January 11, which is the Thursday prior to Wild Card Weekend.
Rodgers, 39, is 17 years older than Akers was when he suffered his Achilles injury. However, the quarterback situation is much less physically demanding (especially on the lower body) than the running back position. It’s also worth noting that Rodgers’ injury occurred on his left leg, which is not the leg that he drives off of for throwing power as a right-handed quarterback. In theory, it could be easier for Rodgers to fight through an injury to his left leg than it would be if the injury were on his right leg.
Obviously, the Jets would have to make the playoffs for Rodgers to even consider making a push for an early return.
Then, it has to be considered how well Zach Wilson is playing. If the Jets make the playoffs, it seems likely that Wilson would have played reasonably well to get them there. In that case, would a rushed-back Rodgers really be an upgrade in what will likely be a cold-weather playoff game?
Time will tell whether Rodgers can truly make history with his recovery or if he is just trying to stay optimistic. Regardless, one thing is for certain: Rodgers is hellbent on playing football again and remains just as committed to the New York Jets as he has been all year.