Jets QB Aaron Rodgers, DE Haason Reddick not at minicamp

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Tuesday, June 11, 2024

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers and edge rusher Haason Reddick are skipping the team's mandatory two-day minicamp, the team announced Tuesday. Both absences are unexcused, meaning both players are subject to fines.

Reddick's no-show, not entirely unexpected, escalates a contract dispute between the Jets and their biggest offseason addition. Rodgers took the required physical and participated in the team's media day, both on Monday, before leaving town.

"Aaron and I spoke before OTAs started," coach Robert Saleh said. "He's very good in communication. He's been here the entire time. It's [unexcused], but he had an event that was very important to him, which he communicated."

Rodgers has been a regular at voluntary workouts for the past two offseasons, preaching the importance of building team chemistry and eliminating distractions -- which makes his absence even more conspicuous. The four-time MVP, nine months removed from Achilles surgery, had been a full participant in practice during three weeks of OTA practices.

Saleh attempted to downplay Rodgers' no-show, saying it wasn't a surprise because the 40-year-old quarterback had given advance warning. Saleh insisted he wasn't disappointed.

"No," he said. "Selfishly, I want our guys here all the time, but when you get to these mandatory things, you make the best decision for yourself. Obviously, selfishly, want all of them here all the time, but he made a decision and that's where he went."

Veteran backup Tyrod Taylor will run the first-team offense in minicamp.

Because the minicamp is mandatory, Rodgers and Reddick are subject to a $16,953 fine for missing the first day, $33,908 for the second day. Reddick already has forfeited a $250,000 workout bonus.

Running back Breece Hall said Rodgers' absence isn't a big deal.

"He's still trying to come back, still get back to feeling right from his injury and everything," Hall said. "I know he's working his tail off. Whether he's here or not, I know he's all in."

Reddick, 29, acquired in a March 29 trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, is due to make a non-guaranteed $14.25 million in base pay in the final year of the contract he signed with the Eagles in 2022. His no-show caps an offseason in which he skipped all voluntary workouts.

General manager Joe Douglas was ecstatic when he traded a 2026 conditional third-round pick for Reddick, calling him "an electric presence off the edge." It was widely known that Reddick wanted a new contract, but the Jets made the trade anyway, comfortable they'd be able to make the relationship work.

The Jets haven't closed the door on the possibility of a long-term extension, but the sense is they'd rather wait. The organization doesn't seem alarmed by the situation and remains confident Reddick will have a productive season.

The organization has to be mindful of long-term planning, as a handful of veterans are up for potential contract extensions, most notably nickelback Michael Carter II and cornerback D.J. Reed. In 2025, stars such as wide receiver Garrett Wilson and cornerback Sauce Gardner will be eligible for new deals.

Saleh said he reached out to Reddick over the weekend, their first communication since the trade. The coach declined to comment on their conversation and wouldn't confirm that Reddick is upset with his contract, although a source confirmed that it's a contract issue.

Asked why they traded for a player seemingly disgruntled with his contract, Saleh deferred to Douglas. Typically, Douglas doesn't speak to the media during the offseason program.

"He's in a really good place mentally, working his tail off like we already knew, but he's choosing to sit out this one unexcused," Saleh said.

It creates a poor optic for the Jets, who are so committed to Reddick as an every-down player that they traded longtime starting end John Franklin-Myers to the Denver Broncos during the draft. Douglas explained that move by saying they couldn't afford to keep Franklin-Myers after absorbing Reddick's contract.

Before that, the Jets lost sack leader Bryce Huff in free agency to the Eagles, who gave the 26-year-old pass-rusher a three-year, $51 million contract, including a $34 million guarantee. The Eagles preferred to invest in the younger Huff than reinvesting in Reddick, who was given permission to seek a trade.

Typically, Douglas doesn't extend contracts for players 29 and older or those acquired in trades. The one and only veteran in that age category to get an extension was tight end Ryan Griffin, who was 29 when he received a three-year, $9.6 million contract in November 2019.

A year ago, the Jets renegotiated Rodgers' contract after acquiring him in a trade, but his reworked deal actually represented a pay cut to help create cap flexibility.

The Jets were drawn to Reddick because of his pass-rushing ability. He's a two-time Pro Bowl player who has recorded 50.5 sacks over the past four seasons, fourth-most in the NFL over that span.

Without Reddick, the Jets' top defensive ends are starter Jermaine Johnson, Micheal Clemons and Will McDonald IV, a 2023 first-round pick who is being counted on to help replace Huff as a situational rusher.

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