Yes, Aaron Rodgers broke his thumb — actually, to be completely accurate, he suffered a “avulsion fracture” in that right thumb — on the final play of a Week 5 game against the Giants in London last October. 

Optimally, a quarterback needs all the fingers on his right hand to be in working order. A bum thumb is a problem. It’s like Billy Joel trying to play piano with his elbows — he’d figure out something, but he probably couldn’t do the intro to “Miami 2017” as well as he’d like. 

Rodgers tried to figure it out. He kept playing. Against Dallas in early November he was brilliant — 14 of 20, 224 yards, three touchdowns, a passer rating of 146.7 — and the Packers knocked off the Cowboys at Lambeau Field 31-28. Mostly, he looked diminished. He looked like a guy trying to throw a football with a broken thumb. 

The Jets are banking everything on that thumb. The team’s brass flew out to California to meet Rodgers for what amounts to as important a recruiting trip as the team has ever had. They need a quarterback. Plan B will be playing quarterback in New Orleans now, Derek Carr signing Monday with the Saints. 

Woody Johnson has made little secret of his desire here. The Jets’ owner likes stars. Rodgers, even at 39, even possibly pondering retirement, remains one of the brightest in the NFL constellation. There is some belief that with even a remotely competent quarterback playing all 17 games last year the Jets’ 7-10 record would’ve looked substantially different. 

And Rodgers, across his first 14 seasons as Green Bay’s QB1 spent about 20 minutes achieving “competence” before speeding through “star” and then “superstar” and then “future Hall of Famer.” He is one of the 10 or 15 best to ever play the position by just about any measure. Maybe even higher. 

The Jets flew out to visit Aaron Rodgers on Tuesday, furthering their pursuit of the Packers’ QB.AP

Woody Johnson’s Aaron Rodgers desires aren’t all that secret.AP

So on one hand, you want to dust off your old Latin textbooks and exhort the Jets: “Carpe diem!” 

Seize the day. 

But on the other, it’s difficult not to keep that book open and flip it a few pages to find another aphorism that is equally relevant: “Caveat emptor!” 

Buyer beware. 

Five years ago — hell, two years ago — there would be no such concerns. As recently as 2020 and 2021 Rodgers won back-to-back MVPs. And — as we’ve already mentioned — his 2022 was compromised on the last play of that Giants game when his hand collided with Oshane Ximines while trying to fire off a desperate heave. 

The next week against the Jets, he clearly wasn’t right. And he wasn’t right the rest of the year. Maybe that was all because of the thumb. Maybe the loss of Davante Adams to Vegas, combined with the thumb, was too much to overcome. And maybe there’s a part of Rodgers that wants a better final chapter than the one he was authoring in Wisconsin: win a boatload of regular-season games capped by lots of playoff potholes. 


But one thing is certain: if the Jets are going to go all-in on Rodgers — and the cost, between salary and draft assets says they are nothing if not all-in — they’d sure better be right. They’d sure better hope that they are getting a version of Rodgers that resembles the bulk of his career and not the one we saw last year, bad thumb or no. 

There are plenty of reasons for the Jets to be wary of bringing Aaron Rodgers on board.Getty Images

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And if Johnson and Joe Douglas want to see what it’ll mean if they pull that trigger and it goes sideways? Maybe have a look at some Broncos games from this year. Maybe see how the Russell Wilson experience was received in Denver, and what that’s done to that football-mad city and that till-now model football operation. 

Doesn’t mean Rodgers is going down that path. 

Doesn’t mean he’s done. 

Doesn’t mean it’ll be a repeat of the Brett Favre Experiment from 15 years ago, although it’s also fair to remember that the Jets were 8-3 before Favre got hurt and became barely a shell of himself across that season’s final five games. Still … Favre turned 39 (and had previously been awfully durable) during that ’08 season. Rodgers will turn 40 in December. Time is time. Age is age. It will be an issue every time Rodgers drops back, every time a defense bears down on him. 

That’s the risk. 

The reward? If the Jets are right, and if the defense can approximate what it was last year, and if the running game returns to where it was headed before Breece Hall was hurt … 

Well, the AFC is a bear, but if they’re right and Rodgers is Rodgers, I certainly would like to see what that season looks like. But they’d sure better be right.

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