Do the Packers Think Love is a Bust?
With Aaron Rodgers' future still undecided and Green Bay Packers' general manager Brian Gutenkunst reporting he has not had any conversations with the face of the franchise, the Packers seem to be heading into 2023 with a potential quarterback controversy.
Adding to this were Gutenkunst's comments about 2020 first round draft pick Jordan Love, and how he thought the quarterback was ready to play. Given Rodgers' contract situation, it makes me wonder if Green Bay isn't completely sold on the younger passer, despite those public comments.
The Love pick was controversial three years ago, especially with Rodgers under contract and still playing at a high level. The decision to draft a quarterback seemed to mirror the decision to draft Rodgers when the team still had Brett Favre. However, unlike Rodgers, who unexpectedly fell to the Packers, the team traded up to get Love.
Despite Gutekunst's recent claim, everything the team has done since drafting him seems to indicate they didn't have that much confidence in that draft pick. This includes signing Aaron Rodgers to a contract extension with $50 million in guaranteed money this year.
OK, to be fair, I don't think anyone would have predicted Rodgers would go on to win two more MVP titles. And I'm sure the COVID-shortened 2020 season slowed Love's development. However, the contract extension, which all but guarantees the team can't cut Rodgers (unless they want to eat a large cap penalty), still seems like something a team wouldn't do if they believed they had their future already on the roster.
This situation almost feels as though Green Bay was still unconvinced about Love being the next franchise passer and may have even been ready to move on from him (and possibly still is). The Rodgers contract was structured in a way that would make the decision to return to the team easier for the older quarterback (that's a lot of money to walk away from) and would give the Packers one or two more years to start over and find his replacement.
Even now, the Packers still seem non-committal about Love. "Ready to play" isn't the same as saying "we want him to be the starter." It isn't even the same as saying "we want him to compete for the starting job."
If anything, the extreme patience the team is showing with Rodgers might be hinting at the exact opposite. After all, the Packers had a legitimate opportunity to start Love over Rodgers last season, when the latter was fighting a thumb injury, yet chose to keep him on the bench. Plus, coach Matt LaFleur was one of the team leaders who publicly stated they wanted Rodgers back. Love, in the meantime still sounds more like the team's plan B.
If Rodgers doesn't retire, the general media consensus is the team will try to trade him. However, I'm not completely convinced that is their real plan. If he doesn't insist on being traded, I wouldn't be surprised to see the organization welcome him back with open arms and postpone the future a little longer.