According to multiple reports, New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers will make his debut Saturday during the team’s final preseason game against the New York Giants.
NFL fans have seen a lot of Rodgers this offseason. From the star of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” to the media’s defensive offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett – he’s been everywhere. Now it looks like he will step off the sidelines and take to the field for his first exhibition game since 2018.
Head coach Robert Saleh made it clear early in training camp that Rodgers would not play in the team’s first three scrimmages. But during a radio appearance, Saleh left the door open for Rodgers to take on the Giants if it looked like the starters needed more work, according to Jordan Raanan from ESPN.
Rodgers, 39, offered Hackett and third-year quarterback Zach Wilson input through a headset en route to the team’s 1-2 record in the preseason. Following the Jets’ 13–6 preseason loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday night, Saleh said he and his staff would meet about playing Rodgers against the Giants “in the next few days.”
Those conversations reportedly led to Rodgers being added to the lineup, according to a Sunday report by Brian Costello of the New York Post. The news was later confirmed by the Associated Press and The Athletic.
Saleh said Rodgers would “definitely be part of the discussion” about his debut, and Rodgers told reporters earlier this month that he was open to playing in the preseason finals:
“If Rob (Saleh) said, ‘Hey, let’s go,’ whatever. Go, let’s do it,” Rodgers said. “Most coaches just have a fear that they’d rather get you to week 1 than take the risk, but I believe there’s an opportunity for the latter.”
As the Green Bay Packers were getting used to their new receivers last year, Rodgers said he “didn’t see any benefit” in playing just one series in the preseason. But in his new situation, he said he would abide by Saleh’s judgment.
“If Robert says, ‘Hey, we’re going to have a quarter, a quarter and a half or a half, whatever, in the last one,’ then we adapt and do it.”
After 18 years with the Packers, Rodgers reportedly took a pay cut to join the Jets this summer on a 2-year, $75 million contract.
He called his new opportunity with the Jets a “partnership.” It seems that both sides took that approach in this initial decision on his play. Rodgers has also taken on a mentorship role with players during training camp, potentially giving Wilson an opportunity to grow.
His upcoming training camp will hopefully give the Jets more confidence in their offense ahead of the team’s regular season opener against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 11.