New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers is set to make his debut during the team’s final preseason game on Saturday against the New York Giants, according to multiple reports.
NFL fans have seen a lot of Rodgers this offseason. From being the star of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” to defending offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett in the media — he’s been everywhere. Now, it appears he’ll move from the sideline and take the field for his first exhibition game since 2018.
Head coach Robert Saleh made it clear early in training camp that Rodgers wouldn’t be playing in the team’s first three scrimmages. But during a radio appearance, Saleh left the door open for Rodgers to suit up against the Giants if it seemed the starters need more work, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.
Rodgers, 39, offered Hackett and third-year quarterback Zach Wilson input via headset en route to the team’s 1-2 preseason record. After the Jets’ 13-6 preseason loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday night, Saleh said that 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 from 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 he was open to playing in the preseason finale:
“If Rob (Saleh) said, ‘Hey, we’re going to go,’ whatever. Go, let’s do it,” Rodgers said. “Most coaches just have that fear where they’d rather get you to the Week 1 then risk it, but I believe there’s a chance for the last one.”
When the Green Bay Packers were adjusting to their new receivers last year, Rodgers said he didn’t “see any benefit” to playing just one series in the preseason. But in his new situation, he said he would defer to Saleh’s judgment.
“If Robert says, ‘Hey, we’re going to go a quarter, a quarter-and-a-half or a half, whatever, in the last one,’ then we’ll suit up 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 referred to his new opportunity with the Jets as a “partnership.” It seems both parties took that approach in this first decision about his play. Rodgers has also taken a mentorship role with players during training camp, even potentially creating an opportunity for Wilson to grow.
His upcoming training camp outing will hopefully give the Jets more confidence in its offense ahead of the team’s regular-season opener against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 11.