Aaron Rodgers’ Injury Could Become Relevant for Vikings

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) is helped off the field after being sacked during the first half of the home opener at MetLife Stadium on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, in East Rutherford. © Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings started their 2023 campaign with a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the worst-case scenario. Too many critical mistakes led to a deserved defeat, and head coach Kevin O’Connell and his coaching staff must clean up those issues to compete for the NFC North and the subsequent playoff spot.

Aaron Rodgers’ Injury Could Become Relevant for Vikings

While the New York Jets won their opening matchup with the Buffalo Bills in a gritty overtime victory, they are going through a true nightmare scenario, as star quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with an apparent injury expected to be a torn Achilles tendon.

Injury Could Become Relevant for Vikings
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That is a nasty injury for every player because it is a season-ender, and the next campaign is also in jeopardy. Rodgers is even in more trouble as he is 39 years old (he will turn 40 in December), and aging players generally don’t recover as well as young athletes. There should be a serious concern if the four-time MVP has played his final down in the NFL, especially because he contemplated retirement in the past.

For the Jets, the incident is a disaster. Rodgers was acquired in the offseason as the guy to bring the Super Bowl to the Jets organization for the first time since 1968 when Joe Namath was under center. New York has built a fantastic roster with an excellent defense and young but exciting offensive weapons.

The final piece was a passer, someone who can throw the ball to Garrett Wilson and his teammates because the Jets haven’t had a good quarterback in a long time. They went 7-10 in the strong AFC East in 2022, despite having a bad sophomore Zach Wilson, well past his prime Joe Flacco, and Mike White as signal callers. The theory was to bring in Rodgers, continue to improve the roster, and be a serious title contender.

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) throws the ball as Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano (58) tackles him during the first half of the home opener at MetLife Stadium on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, in East Rutherford. © Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK.

That plan went up in smoke in the year’s first Monday Night Football contest. Where do the Jets go from here? The remaining passer on the roster is Wilson, a highly talented QB, the second overall pick in 2021. He came in for Rodgers and finally looked mature, but he also made some mind-boggling mistakes.

In 23 career games, he dropped 4,162 yards, completing only 55.6% of his passes. He also threw 19 interceptions to only 16 passing touchdowns. Unless he shows incredible improvement, going from Rodgers to Wilson drops the franchise from the Super Bowl contender tier into the role of the hunters in the AFC East because the Miami Dolphins looked great in Week 1, battling with the Los Angeles Chargers, and Bills quarterback Josh Allen will certainly not continue to play as poorly as on Monday.

Acquiring a new passer is a very real possibility, but there aren’t any superstar QBs available besides Tom Brady, who retired earlier in the offseason. The Jets will call him, but he is 46 years old and might not be in shape, in addition to a likely hesitancy to join a rival team of his Patriots. Carson Wentz is hardly much of an upgrade over Wilson. So what comes next?

Well, a trade is possible. The Jets saw Sean McVay’s Rams trade for Matthew Stafford, adding him to a loaded team with a great defense and some excellent weapons, and they won the Super Bowl in the first year.

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Kirk Cousins could be that guy. For that to happen, the Vikings would have to lose a few more games, but that is a genuine scenario with the Eagles, Chargers, Chiefs, and 49ers on the schedule before the trade deadline arrives.

If the Vikings realize that they won’t go anywhere in 2023, why hold on to the QB to ruin the draft stock in the final year of his contract and lose him for nothing in free agency instead of sending him to the Jets?

Cousins has a no-trade clause and could veto the trade. However, if the Vikings signal that they want to draft a QB and go in a different direction, why not leave a few months earlier and join a contending team to put himself in the best position to destroy the narrative that he can’t win big games?

The Vikings QB is a controversial topic in sports and social media, as some look at his stats and see an elite quarterback, while others look at the team results and see an average guy. The truth, however, is somewhere in the middle. A good quarterback who can help teams win within the structure but who won’t do Patrick Mahomes stuff and throw for 450 yards and five touchdowns, if necessary, and single-handily win the game.

Aaron Rodgers Noticed the Purple
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He would count less than $10 million to the Jets’ salary cap if they acquired him. The Jets have $9.8 million in cap space, according to OTC. The Vikings would get some draft capital in return, although the Jets have already traded away their second-rounder to the Packers, but wasting a Super Bowl roster is not something organizations want to do.

The Vikings would go with Nick Mullens or Jaren Hall under center and obviously lose more games than with Cousins, putting the team in real tank mode. That would lead to an improved draft status and a better position to select the next franchise QB in the draft.

Those speculations will become completely moot if the Vikings somehow upset the Eagles on Thursday and beat the Chargers or the Panthers in Weeks 3 and 4 and only apply to an awful season start with little hope for a playoff berth.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt