The Green Bay Packers have some important decisions to make about the future of Jordan Love. Obviously, Love’s short-term prospects will depend on the decision that Aaron Rodgers will make in the coming weeks about his future in Green Bay. Once Rodgers has announced what his intentions are, GM Brian Gutekunst will then have to figure out whether Love remains in Green Bay in 2023 or if the team decides to trade him.
The Packers traded up to select Love in the 2020 NFL Draft. It was a controversial pick for a team that made the NFC Championship Game the previous season and already had a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Rodgers who was still playing at an elite level.
Love was at a big disadvantage in his first NFL season. There were no in-person OTAs and no preseason games because of the pandemic. He didn’t see the field as a rookie and was the Packers third string quarterback behind Rodgers and Tim Boyle.
In 2021, he became the primary backup and ended up starting one game against the Chiefs when Rodgers was on the Covid list. He showed flashes of ability in the preseason and in his start but clearly still had things he needed to work on like his footwork and mechanics, his confidence and the ability to read NFL defenses.
Last season, Love showed more improvement in the preseason. During the regular season, he played in four games and completed 14-of-21 passes for 195 yards and one touchdown which gave him a quarterback rating of 112.2.
The former Utah State star looked more confident and that allowed his strong arm to be more effective.
Love has earned the confidence of many of his teammates. Veteran inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell described Love by saying, “He’s a starting quarterback. He’s better than a lot of quarterbacks…a lot of starting quarterbacks.”
Head coach Matt LaFleur also saw progress from Love in 2022. After a preseason game against the Saints, he said “I think the game has slowed down for him. I see a much more decisive player. I think that’s going to lead to a much more effective player.”
Love has been a good teammate and has handled a difficult situation with class. He has sat behind Rodgers for three years now, the same number of years that Rodgers backed up Brett Favre at the start of his career. He has remained quiet each offseason while Rodgers made yet another decision about his future in Green Bay and whether he wants to continue to his NFL career.
Despite the storm swirling around him, Love has not complained to the media, has not made waves and continued to work hard and done his job to the best of his ability.
Love is entering the final year of his entry-level contract in 2023. Gutekunst must decide during this offseason whether to exercise the fifth-year option on Love’s contract that team’s get for their first-round picks. If the Packers do go with the option, it would cost the Packers roughly $20.2 million.
Questions have been raised as to whether Love will want to return to the Packers in 2023 if Rodgers opts to return to Green Bay. He will turn 25 this November and has only one NFL start under his belt. A fourth season sitting behind Rodgers with the possibility of a fifth would be detrimental to Love’s long-term prospects. Simply put, Love wants a chance to start and get his career on track. That would lead to his next big contract in 2025.
From a Packers standpoint, the good news is that Rodgers is expected to make his decision before the deadline for Love’s fifth-year option has to be made. So Gutekunst will know whether the Packers will be sticking with AR-12 or moving on to Love before he has to decide whether to exercise the fifth-year option.
The other factor is that if Love stays in Green Bay, the Packers could sign him to a long-term extension if they like what they see from him on the field in 2023 and potentially lower that $20.2 million cap hit for 2024 depending on how they structure the deal. If Love struggles, the team would not have a long-term commitment to him and can move on from him after 2024 when Love can become an unrestricted free agent.
Even if Rodgers returns to the Packers in 2023, he will likely play one or two more seasons at most before deciding to retire. The post-Rodgers era is coming soon, even if we don’t yet know exactly when. One related question will be whether Love is going to be Rodgers’ successor in Green Bay or if that player is not yet on the roster.
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