The Green Bay Packers are still waiting for Aaron Rodgers to make his decision about his future. As of now, we don’t know if the future Hall of Famer will retire, return to the Packers in 2023 or ask for a trade.
Regardless of what Rodgers decides to do, it is highly likely the Packers will select a quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft. The biggest question is in what round and how much of a priority GM Brian Gutekunst will make the position this offseason.
If Rodgers returns to the Packers this season, the odds are strong that Jordan Love will ask to be traded rather than spend a fourth year as a backup quarterback. Not playing for that long will hurt his development, his money making potential and the direction of his career. That means if Rodgers is the Packers starter in 2023, Love is unlikely to be on the team.
If he decides to return, Rodgers is only a short-term solution. He will turn 40 in December of this year and would only likely continue to play in 2023 or through 2024 at the latest. That means the Packers should make selecting the eventual successor to Rodgers a priority.
Rookie quarterbacks tend to struggle and need time to develop into a quality NFL starter. We have seen that with the Packers in the past. Rodgers himself acted as the backup for Brett Favre for three seasons after the Packers selected him in the 2005 NFL Draft. He took over as the starter in 2008.
Over those three years, he played in the preseason, mastered the playbook and learned from watching an experienced Hall of Fame quarterback in Favre do his thing.
Rodgers played in only seven total games over those three seasons and did not start any. He completed 35-of-59 passes for 329 yards and one touchdown. He did not throw an interception.
If you select a quarterback in the first round, he is under his rookie contract for four seasons and then the team has the option to sign him to a one-year extension using the formula for a fifth-year option. Having a quarterback playing under a reasonable entry-level contract gives the team the opportunity to surround that young quarterback with more talent since the quarterback is not taking up such a large percentage of the salary cap.
Any quarterback drafted in 2023 would probably sit behind Rodgers for one or two years before being asked to take over as the starter after AR-12 retires. That would give the Packers two or three years under the new quarterback’s rookie contract plus if he’s a first-round pick, one additional year under the fifth-year option before the new QB needs to be paid a boat load of money.
If Rodgers departs, the need to draft a quarterback isn’t quite as urgent. Love is significantly younger than Rodgers and has showed flashes of the ability that made him the Packers first round draft pick back in 2020. In his first three NFL seasons, the former Utah State star has started just one game and played in 10. He’s completed 50-of-83 passes for 606 yards and three touchdowns. He has also thrown three interceptions.
If Love is the starter, the team need not use a high draft pick on a quarterback. That would almost be a slap in the face to the young quarterback who spent the last three years waiting his turn behind Rodgers. In fact, the Packers may want to bring in a relatively inexpensive veteran backup as an insurance policy in case Love struggles in his first season as the starter.
But the possibility of drafting a quarterback on the third day of the draft as a developmental quarterback would still make sense for the Packers so that new rookie can start his development process and be ready to take over if Love doesn’t work out or re-sign in Green Bay.
We all know change is coming to the Packers quarterback room. The question is who is staying, who is going and when. Rodgers could be gone this offseason or he could stay another year or two but it’s doubtful he’ll be here longer than that. Whether it’s Love or somebody else, the team needs to prepare for life after Rodgers and selecting a quarterback in this year’s draft would make sense regardless of what Rodgers and the team decide to do this season.
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