Aaron Rodgers skips all of Jets minicamp for a trip: Here’s what it means

Over a hundred New York Jets fans showed up to watch the first practice of minicamp on Tuesday morning, ready to get their first look at Aaron Rodgers since his injured his Achilles last September. Instead, they were treated to an afternoon of Tyrod Taylor and undrafted rookie Andrew Peasley leading the offense. If it’s any consolation, Taylor didn’t know he’d be QB1 in minicamp until Tuesday morning either.

Rodgers was nowhere to be found, an “unexcused absence” which, as coach Robert Saleh said on Tuesday, subjects him to a fine. Defensive end Haason Reddick also skipped minicamp, though he’s mired in a contract dispute.

Rodgers? The 40-year-old skipped practice this week for a trip. It was something he planned long before these practices, and something he alerted Saleh to ahead of time. The organization knew he’d miss the entire week, even if many outside the building originally misunderstood it as a one-day absence. None if it came as a surprise to the front office or coaches, even if the fans — and Taylor — didn’t know it was happening.

Aaron Rodgers of the New York Jets talks with Head Coach Robert Saleh during the New York Jets OTA Offseason Workout at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on May 21, 2024 in Florham Park, New Jersey.

Rodgers was there during the spring’s voluntary workouts, which also matters. (Sarah Stier / Getty Images)

It’s unclear why Rodgers had to take this far away trip right now — only he can answer that — but he took it nonetheless. Saleh called it “an event that was very important to him” but didn’t specify further. That has led to some consternation and speculation among Rodgers detractors about what could be so important for him to skip mandatory practice, something that no other starting quarterback in the NFL is doing. It’s not a contract dispute, a family matter, rehab-related or anything to do with football. Saleh insisted on Wednesday that he and Rodgers are “on the same page” about why it was deemed an unexcused absence, though he also said they haven’t spoken since Tuesday.

Rodgers attended the team’s photo day on Monday and then left for his trip, off for the summer. His next public appearance likely won’t come until the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Lake Tahoe in July.

“He had something that was very important to him,” Saleh said on Tuesday, “and if it’s important to him, it’s important to us.”

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The criticism Rodgers has been getting is simultaneously warranted and overblown. Both things can be true.

It’s easy to tie it all back (many have) to Rodgers’ quote from January when he said: “If you want to be a winning organization and put yourself in position to win championships and be competitive, everything that you do matters. And the bulls— that has nothing to do with winning needs to get out of the building. So that’ll be the focus moving forward.” That quote will keep resurfacing every time Rodgers creates some unwanted hullabaloo. (Rest assured, it will happen again.)

It’s hard to justify Rodgers skipping this session when all of his teammates are in attendance. It’s also worth noting that Rodgers participated in the entire offseason program and every single OTA practice, which many of his teammates didn’t — and some quarterbacks around the league didn’t either.

The reality: The Jets aren’t going to make or miss the playoffs because of their quarterback’s attendance at a two-day minicamp in June with light practices, no pads and no hitting, with many of his offensive teammates not even practicing either due to injuries. What matters ultimately is how his teammates and coaches feel about it.

Not many of his teammates have spoken about it publicly, but running back Breece Hall didn’t seem too perturbed: “I know he’s working his tail off, he’s still trying to come back, still getting back to feeling right from his injury. I know he’s working his tail off. Whether he’s here or not I know he’s all in.”



Haason Reddick’s holdout is another complication for the Jets

Saleh spent the early part of the offseason talking about how he was hoping for a quiet offseason, with fewer distractions. Now there’s the Reddick dispute, and this. Even if Rodgers’ decision to skip camp doesn’t ultimately factor into how things will go this season, it’s a distraction nonetheless.

“It’s more an issue for everyone outside of the building than inside,” Saleh said on Wednesday.

Never a dull moment in Florham Park.

(Top photo: Rich Graessle / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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