EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Four snaps into Aaron Rodgers' career with the New York Jets, the 39-year-old quarterback was brought down by Buffalo pass rusher Leonard Floyd and landed awkwardly on his leg, exiting the game with a limp.
The worst was confirmed the following morning: Rodgers' season is over after an MRI revealed a complete tear of his left Achilles tendon - a devastating blow for a team looking to make some noise after going all in to acquire the four time MVP.
Locked on Jets host John Butchko is happy New York managed to pull out the victory, but is stunned at the misfortune this franchise has endured yet again with this injury.
"I can't believe this has happened again," Butchko said on the Locked on Sports Today podcast. "It's 1999 all over again, when the Jets had a team you thought would contend for a Super Bowl and Vinny Testaverde goes down and he's gone for the season...you're just thinking nothing can ever go right for this franchise."
So what now? Zach Wilson filled in for Rodgers and completed 14/21 passes for 140 yards with a touchdown and an interception, is he the guy going forward for New York? Head coach Robert Saleh indicated as much after the game, but that doesn't mean the team won't bring in reinforcements.
While the free agent pool isn't exactly swimming with marquee talent, there are a handful of options that make sense (and a few that don't) for New York's front office to pursue:
1. Joe Flacco
At this point in time, adding someone who can quickly get up to speed with the offense is a crucial priority. 38-year-old NFL veteran Joe Flacco is perhaps the best option, thanks to his understanding of the team's offense having played for the Jets in each of the past three seasons.
Flacco went 1-3 under center for New York last year, completing 57.6% of his passes with five touchdowns and three interceptions. It's not ideal, but running it back with Wilson and Flacco might be the best bet for Saleh and co right now.
2. Carson Wentz
The former All-Pro and 2019 Comeback Player of the Year went unsigned this offseason after starting seven games for the Commanders in 2022, where he went 2-5 with an 11-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Like Flacco he doesn't have much of a deep ball left, and his mobility leaves plenty to be desired, but if there is anything left in the tank he could be worth taking a flyer on in the Big Apple.
3. Colt McCoy
The Arizona Cardinals waived Colt McCoy in a transparent tanking move, leaving a perfectly capable NFL quarterback on the waiver wire heading into the 2023 season.
McCoy has a very solid 68% completion rate over the past five seasons, although that comes in only 11 starts and with an 8-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. McCoy won't wow anyone, but he is among the most stable options available and stability is potentially all New York and their stout defense needs to stay afloat.
4. Matt Ryan
Matty Ice is currently in the CBS booth after finishing his 2022 season with one ugly season in Indianapolis, but it's quite likely he would jump at an opportunity to get back under center for his age 38 season.
The former MVP, Rookie of the Year, and four-time Pro Bowler led the league in completions as recently as 2020, and his familiarity with the west coast style offense Nathaniel Hackett runs could make him an appealing option. New York will have to see if Ryan has anything left in the tank, but this could be a very fun boom-or-bust style signing for a desperate franchise.
5. Tom Brady
Until Tom Brady is 4+ years out of the league, no quarterback rumor will be complete without naming the GOAT. Brady returning to replace Rodgers, on the team he terrorized for decades while with the Patriots, would be all the proof we need that the NFL truly is a scripted soap opera. It almost certainly won't happen, but Jets GM Joe Douglas should at least kick the tires and make the call here.