FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, miffed that "conspiracy theorists" are portraying him as selfish for taking up a roster spot even though he's not playing, said Tuesday that it wasn't his idea to be activated from injured reserve.

Rodgers, in his weekly appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show," said the Jets' organization wanted him on the 53-man roster so he could keep practicing with the team despite being ruled out due to his surgically repaired Achilles. Rodgers said he would've been content to finish the season on IR.

By activating him, the Jets had to release another player -- veteran fullback Nick Bawden, who later returned to the team on the practice squad.

"I assumed I was going to go on IR," said Rodgers, who announced Dec. 19 that his 2023 comeback bid was over. "I asked to be put on IR, but then there was a conversation, 'Do you want to practice?' I said not at the expense of somebody getting cut. I know how this works.

"I didn't feel like I needed to practice to continue my rehab. I could do on-the-field stuff on the side, but, obviously, I got overruled there. It is what it is. This was an interesting situation."

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Rodgers' 21-day practice window closed on Dec. 20. At that point, the Jets had to make a decision: Leave him on IR (no practice allowed) or activate him to the roster. They went the unconventional route, adding him to the roster while acknowledging there was no chance he'd play in a game.

"I called Nick right away," Rodgers said. "I just said, 'Hey, I hope you know this isn't coming from me. I asked to be put on IR.' He actually said, 'Hey, look, I'm vested. I'm getting my money. I'm fine.'"

As a vested veteran, Bawden's $1.1 million salary is guaranteed because he was on the opening-day roster. After clearing waivers, he was added to the practice squad and then elevated for last Sunday's game against the Washington Commanders even though he didn't play because of a knee injury -- another unusual move. He reverted to the practice squad on Monday.

Basically, Bawden bounced around the transaction wire so Rodgers could practice. In the end, the player who lost a job was cornerback Kalon Barnes, who was cut from the 16-member practice squad to make room for Bawden.

"I didn't feel like I needed to practice to continue my rehab. I could do on-the-field stuff on the side, but, obviously, I got overruled there. It is what it is. This was an interesting situation."
Aaron Rodgers, on being activated from IR

"Everybody says it's a business and, yeah, he did call me," Bawden told ESPN. "It wasn't surprising because that's the kind of guy Aaron is. I see him every day and he's full of love and full of being a great leader. So, it didn't surprise me, and we think we had a really good conversation, just being able to hear what he had to say."

While not naming names, Rodgers, 40, suggested that certain people have hatched "conspiracies" and "the same, tired narrative" because they disagree with his stance on the COVID-19 vaccine. He said they're still upset because he "didn't bow down to the medical industrial complex and the mass formation psychosis" while making his health decisions.

On Tuesday, coach Robert Saleh confirmed Rodgers' comments, saying he and general manager Joe Douglas made the decision to activate the quarterback.

"[Rodgers] expressed concern about taking up someone's roster spot and all that stuff, and what it meant," Saleh said. "But like I told you guys, we had roster flexibility, just like we told him, and we had the ability to do it. And so, we did."

Saleh said it's a plus to have Rodgers on the practice field, noting that he ran the scout-team offense last Friday in an 11-on-11 period. He has been practicing only one or two days a week.

Meanwhile, the Jets announced that quarterback Zach Wilson (concussion) is out for the second straight game, meaning Trevor Siemian will start again on Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns. Siemian passed for 217 yards, one touchdown and one interception in Sunday's 30-28 win over the Commanders.