Aaron Rodgers got the news on Tuesday that was widely feared since he departed the Jets’ Monday night game against the Buffalo Bills: He had torn his left Achilles tendon and will miss the season, the league said in a social media post.
After a long and glittering career as the Green Bay Packers quarterback, Rodgers had come to the Jets at age 39 in the hopes of pushing the team to a Super Bowl, which the franchise had not won since the days of Joe Namath. Already stocked with an elite defense and young stars at key positions, Rodgers’s experience and leadership were thought to be the final puzzle piece to a team that could contend for a championship.
But the star quarterback was sacked just three and a half minutes into his first game at MetLife Stadium on Tuesday. Though he stood for a moment after being felled by Bills defensive end Leonard Floyd, he soon sat down on the turf. He was helped to the sideline then carted off to the locker room and TV cameras showed Rodgers wearing a protective boot.
On Tuesday, the league said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, citing two N.F.L. Media reporters. The Jets said in a post: “Not the way any of us wanted it to go, but we know the commitment you’ve made to this team will continue to impact us moving forward.”
The Jets have had a star-crossed history since Namath led them to an upset Super Bowl victory in the 1968 season. Since then, the team has struggled to find another franchise quarterback capable of leading it back to a title game, using first-round draft picks on Richard Todd in 1976, Ken O’Brien in 1983, Chad Pennington in 2000, Mark Sanchez in 2009, Sam Darnold in 2018, and Zach Wilson in 2021.
The Jets had also previously tried luring an M.V.P. quarterback from the Packers, trading for Brett Favre in 2007. Those acquisitions each fell short of transforming the Jets offense into title contenders.
There was hope Rodgers could change that long history of inefficacy when was acquired in an April trade in exchange for draft picks. His long career has put him in the top 10 of many passing categories, he has won four Most Valuable Player Awards, and in the 2010 season he took the Packers to their only Super Bowl victory of this century.
Rodgers’s arrival had stoked the hopes of Jets fans and his teammates. “Bringing a guy like him into the building just excites everyone in general because the résumé he has, the character he is, the guy that he is, that brings a spark to everybody,” said defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, at training camp in July.
The fit seemed good: Rodgers threw himself into the life of the city, turning up at the Tony Awards, Knicks and Rangers games, the U.S. Open, and a Taylor Swift concert at MetLife.
For now, the Jets turn to Wilson, the backup quarterback who helped the team rally to a 22-16 win in Monday’s game against the Bills. He retakes the position after being benched last season, his first as a full-time starter, when the offense relied on the run attack and struggled to consistently make the rest of the offense work behind paltry pass protection. Those issues return to the fore without a future Hall of Fame quarterback to mitigate them.
In Rodgers’s absence, expectations for the Jets are now, as in so many other years, severely diminished.
Santul Nerkar contributed reporting.