Aaron Rodgers absence is only the latest storyline in compelling offseason for Jets, Giants’ QB rooms (2024)

There has been no shortage of intrigue around the Jets and Giants’ quarterbacks rooms in recent months — for very different reasons.

An offseason that began with swirling speculation about the Giants’ draft plans has since turned its focus to the unexcused — and, for the most part, unexplained — absence of Aaron Rodgers at the Jets’ mandatory minicamp last week.

Also drawing attention were Rodgers’ potential candidacy as Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential running mate; Daniel Jones’ progress in his recovering from a season-ending ACL tear; and the Jets trading away Zach Wilson three years after drafting him No. 2 overall.

It’s certainly made for an interesting offseason.

Rodgers, whose debut season with the Jets ended with an Achilles tear four snaps into Week 1 last September, made the first headline off the offseason in January when he stressed the importance of eliminating distractions.

“Flush the bulls–t,” Rodgers said on Jan. 8.

“Anything in this building that we’re doing, individually or collectively, that has nothing to do with real winning needs to be assessed.”

About two months later, reports emerged that Kennedy, an independent candidate and a notorious vaccine skeptic, was considering Rodgers to run as his vice president.

Rodgers later confirmed having “a few nice conversations” with Kennedy.

“But there were really two options,” Rodgers, 40, said last month. “It was retire and be his VP, or keep playing, and I want to keep playing.”

Rodgers participated in the Jets’ voluntary offseason program this spring, but his absence last Tuesday and Wednesday at mandatory OTAs came as a surprise.

The Jets have not specified where Rodgers was, prompting speculation to run rampant.

Head coach Robert Saleh and teammates including Sauce Gardner have downplayed the significance of Rodgers missing minicamp.

“Aaron and I spoke before OTAs started,” Saleh said. “He has been good with communication and has been here the entire time. It’s unexcused, but he had an event that was very important to him.”

With Rodgers away, the offense ran last week under backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who joined the Jets in the offseason after two years with the Giants.

Taylor’s addition gave the Jets a more-established backup than Wilson, who went 12-21 as a starter and passed for 23 touchdowns against 25 interceptions in his three seasons. Wilson’s tumultuous tenure came to an end in April when the Jets traded him to the Denver Broncos as part of a late-round pick swap.

The Giants, meanwhile, replaced Taylor with Drew Lock as the backup to Jones, who remains the starting quarterback after the team declined to select anyone at the position in April’s draft.

Big Blue did, however, do considerable homework on prominent quarterback prospects before the draft. Those included Drake Maye, who went No. 3 overall to the Patriots, and J.J. McCarthy, who went 10th to the Vikings.

The Giants reportedly tried to trade up to select Maye but ultimately remained at No. 6 and took explosive wide receiver Malik Nabers. McCarthy was still on the board at the time.

Asked about the Giants’ quarterback pursuit, Jones said last month, “Yeah, I mean, I wasn’t fired up about it.”

“But I think that it’s part of it at this level,” Jones said. “What I can do is focus on myself and getting healthy [and] playing the best football I can play, that I know I’m capable of playing. That’s my job, and that’s what I’m gonna do.”

Jones, 26, is entering the second season of the four-year, $160 million contract he signed with the Giants before the 2023 season. Jones led the Giants to the playoffs in 2022 but played in only six games last season due to a neck injury and the ACL tear. The Giants can get out of his contract with a palatable cap hit after the 2024 season.

After participating in 7-on-7 and individual drills at Tuesday’s minicamp practice, Jones said he expects to be ready for the start of training camp next month.

“The knee feels good. Really good,” Jones said Tuesday. “Every week, I’ve continued to feel better and better and taken steps. I’m doing a lot of the same things I’ve been doing but doing them better and feeling sharper, cleaner with a lot of my cuts.

“Kind of working on getting that explosiveness back and then taking steps and improving my change of direction and cutting from even where it was before the injury.”

Aaron Rodgers absence is only the latest storyline in compelling offseason for Jets, Giants’ QB rooms (2024)
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