FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, in his first public comments since his season-ending Achilles injury, said he’s down, but apparently not out.
“I’m completely heartbroken and moving through all of the emotions, but deeply touched and humbled by the support and love,” Rodgers wrote Wednesday in a post on his Instagram page. “Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I begin the healing process today.
“The night is darkest before the dawn. And I shall rise yet again.”
Rodgers’ comments came shortly after Jets coach Robert Saleh and owner Woody Johnson both indicated they expect the four-time MVP to return in 2024.
“I’d be shocked if this is the way he’s going to go out,” Saleh told reporters.
The 39-year-old quarterback, the oldest player in the NFL, faces several months of grueling rehab after tearing his left Achilles tendon on his fourth snap of the season in Monday night’s win over the Buffalo Bills.
Saleh said he hasn’t discussed the future with him, adding that Rodgers is “working through a whole lot of headspace things that he needs to deal with, and that will be the last thing I talk to him about.”
Before the injury, Rodgers had mentioned on numerous occasions that his goal was to play multiple years with the Jets. He’s signed through 2025, due to receive $38 million in guarantees in 2024.
About three hours before Rodgers’ post, Johnson chimed in on social media, saying, “The story is not over. Come back strong @AaronRodgers12.” In Green Bay, Packers coach Matt LaFleur and quarterback Jordan Love said they texted Rodgers shortly after his injury.
“I would bet that he would have no problem coming back from it. I really believe it. I know the type of worker he is, and so it’s just going to be a choice of whether or not he wants to continue to play or not,” LaFleur said.
Love said that he was excited to see Rodgers play and that “it sucks for that to happen to him in the first series. I feel for him, I know he’s going to bounce back, and he’ll do his thing in recovery, and he’ll come back stronger.”
Meanwhile, the Jets are preparing for the Dallas Cowboys (1-0) with Zach Wilson as their starter and Tim Boyle as the backup. Saleh said they don’t feel a sense of urgency to add another quarterback even though Wilson and Boyle are the only two in the building. Boyle will be brought up from the practice squad for Sunday’s game on the road.
At some point, the Jets hope Rodgers will return to the facility to help behind the scenes. Rodgers and Wilson have developed a close relationship over the past few months, and the coaches say it has helped Wilson — the No. 2 pick in 2021 — improve his game.
“I think it’s very important,” Saleh said of having Rodgers around the team. “It’s important for him. For him, I think it’s the mental health and healing. I think that’s very important. But his presence, his words. … I said he’s as much a football coach as he is a player. Just having his presence, his thoughts, his words and his leadership, anybody would want that.”
For now, Wilson won’t have Rodgers around to tutor him. The Jets are trying to rally around the quarterback who was benched twice last season and demoted to third string late in the year.
Several players, when asked about their confidence in Wilson, said the third-year quarterback has shown growth, citing Rodgers as a big reason. They noted a difference in Wilson’s confidence.
“He has that swagger,” center Connor McGovern said. “When he came in, he had a nice swagger about him. I think he lost it a little bit and it’s back. It’s back and it’s better than ever.”
Wilson, 8-14 as a starter, replaced Rodgers on the first series of the game. He struggled in the first half, throwing a costly interception, but he improved in the second half and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson in the 22-16 overtime win. He finished 14-for-21 for 140 yards.
“The past is the past and, from what I’m seeing, Zach is our guy,” running back Dalvin Cook said. “We have to rock out with him.”
The Jets are exploring quarterback options for depth purposes, but Saleh said they’re not in a hurry because they want the right scheme and locker room fit.
Meanwhile, Rodgers’ former coach with the Packers, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, said he reached out to his old quarterback.
“I have a tremendous amount of love for him,” McCarthy said. “This is tough. I know he was very excited about this chapter of his life, and I was looking forward to seeing him this weekend … You get to see how precious these opportunities are. Every game is such a special opportunity to compete in this league. So, yeah, I think we’re all feeling for him personally right now.”
ESPN’s Rob Demovsky and Todd Archer contributed to this report.