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The fallout from Aaron Rodgers’ injury, what it means for the Detroit Lions

The impact of Aaron Rodgers’ injury as it pertains to the Detroit Lions and the rest of the NFL.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New York Jets Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday night, the unthinkable happened for the New York Jets. On the Jets’ fourth offensive play from scrimmage, quarterback Aaron Rodgers—the player New York invested heavily in to push them into a Super Bowl contender—suffered what is feared to be a torn Achilles. If MRI tests on Tuesday confirm the diagnosis, Rodgers will miss the entire 2023 season.

While he may not have been very popular around these parts, you’ve got to feel bad for Rodgers and Jets fans. Rodgers seemed legitimately re-energized with a new franchise, and Jets fans were justifiably psyched about their championship chances. All that was gone before the first drive of the season came to an end. Their miraculous comeback overtime win was a nice ending to the night for them, but Rodgers’ injury is a soul-crushing loss.

An injury to a major contender like this sends shockwaves throughout the league, and the Detroit Lions are not exempt from some of the impact felt. Let’s take a look at some of the fallout from Rodgers’ injury and how it impacts us locally.

Green Bay Packers likely to lose draft pick value

As a reminder, here are the trade terms for the Rodgers trade:

Jets get:

  • QB Aaron Rodgers
  • Packers’ 2023 first-round pick
  • 2023 fifth-round pick

Packers get

  • Jets’ 2023 first-round pick
  • 2023 second-round pick
  • 2023 sixth-round pick
  • Conditional 2024 pick

Obviously, all the 2023 picks have now been settled, but that 2024 conditional pick is what matters today. The conditions of the pick were based on Rodgers’ playing time. If Rodgers plays at least 65 percent of the team’s snaps, it’s a 2024 first-round pick. If he doesn’t reach that benchmark, it’s a 2024 second-round pick. Given the seriousness of the injury, it will almost certainly be a second-round pick now.

That said, if the Jets struggle, the difference in picks may not be all that different. If Rodgers had stayed healthy all season, the Jets likely would have made a deep run into the playoffs—leading the Packers to have a late first-round pick. If New York can’t keep their head above water without Rodgers now, the Jets could finish near the bottom of the league, turning that pick into a high second-round pick. A low first-round pick vs. a high second-round pick isn’t as dramatic as it sounds.

Jets’ schedule

Whoever plays the Jets this year now has a significantly better chance to beat them (don’t tell the Bills that). No one in the NFC North plays the Jets this year, as their cross-conference play is against the NFC East this year.

That does mean, however, that some of the projected top-tier teams in the NFC will catch a break. The Cowboys and Eagles both play the Jets—in fact, both play the Jets in the next month. Detroit could be competing with these teams for a top seed in the conference, so it’s a minor bad break for the Lions.

Jets need a new quarterback?

The Jets’ backup quarterback is Zach Wilson, the team’s 2021 first-round pick who has immensely struggled in his first two years and was even benched toward the end of 2022. While he got the win on Monday night, he didn’t exactly look great, completing 14-of-21 passes for 140 yards, one touchdown, and an interception.

The Lions just so happen to have veteran backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who has plenty of playing experience filling in for injury. Bridgewater helped the Saints in 2019 weather the storm of a Drew Brees injury by going 5-0 in his absence. But he also went 0-2 for the Dolphins when Tua Tagovailoa was sidelined last year.

Detroit may not want to part with Bridgewater to protect their own quarterback depth, but at the same time, flipping him for a draft pick to a desperate team makes some sense. It’s an easy way to pick up draft capital, and the Lions have both David Blough on the practice squad and rookie Hendon Hooker nearing a return from his injury. They wouldn’t be completely lost without Bridgewater if Jared Goff went down.

This speculation may be all for naught, though. Jets coach Robert Saleh said after Monday’s game that he plans on riding with Wilson for the rest of the season.

It’s easy to say that now after an emotional win. But if Wilson continues to struggle and the losses mount? He could—and probably should—change his mind.

At the very least, the Jets need a body at quarterback. They do have former Lion Tim Boyle on their practice squad, but if/when Rodgers goes to injured reserve, they’ll likely add a third quarterback to the room.

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