The question that’s been on all of our minds since the moment the Green Bay Packers drafted Jordan Love in 2020 is “what exactly is their plan here?” One year later, the answer still isn’t very clear.
What is clear is that the decision did not make Aaron Rodgers happy, and after months of speculation about what he would do, Rodgers eventually decided to stay in Green Bay for at least another year. Past that, his future with the Packers is uncertain. Does that mean Love should be ready to take over the Packers’ starter role if/when Rodgers leaves? Not so fast. Pro Football Talk’s Peter King reported on Monday that Love “hasn’t wowed the team,” and while it is only his second year, he’ll likely need to progress rapidly this season to earn his coaches’ trust should Rodgers depart.
On top of that assessment, Love was kept out of practice on Monday after head coach Matt LaFleur said his throwing arm got “dinged” during the Packers’ preseason game against the Texans on Saturday. An MRI on his shoulder after the game came back with no issues, but LaFleur wouldn’t commit to saying he’d be ready by Saturday’s game against the New York Jets.
The injury might mean less time for Green Bay to see more of how Love can perform in an NFL setting. He looked solid in his one half of work against Houston, going 12-of-17 for 122 yards and a touchdown before the sack that tweaked his throwing arm at the end of the second quarter.
After the lack of a true preseason in 2020, the Packers want to see as much of Love on the field as they can. If his shoulder continues to keep him on the sideline, the team will enter the final week of the preseason having to assess his talent based on just one half of NFL-level football. That isn’t a great situation for trying to figure out your team’s future at its most important position.
If I’m Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, I know that trading up to draft Love was a misstep, and I know that it prompted Rodgers down a road that may lead out of Green Bay. It’s hard to even say that misstep was worth it, since coaches haven’t been overly impressed with his performance thus far, and they don’t know exactly how much more they’ll see of him before the regular season begins. With that being said, what is the best move for the Packers going forward?
Option one is they stick with Love. It’s admittedly the smarter option as of now since Rodgers is all but officially beginning his farewell-to-Green-Bay tour this season. It would give him a chance to learn more under the reigning MVP during the coming season, then develop on his own out from Rodgers’ shadow next year. It also gives Love and Packers fans a show of confidence from the front office. Sure, it didn’t make Rodgers happy, but they have faith that Love can take over and succeed once he’s called on.
Option two is they try to move him. It’s something that wouldn’t be a great look for the front office at the start, but there are some positive potential outcomes. Firstly, they could present it to Rodgers as a form of apology. If they trade away the backup they drafted in the first round last year, they’re telling their 37-year-old quarterback that they still have full faith in him as a starter this year. It could be a good first step on the road to redemption for Green Bay’s front office in Rodgers’ eyes and—who knows?—maybe even a road back to further contract extension talks, especially if they can use a return haul to further build the offense around him.
If the Packers did trade Love, they would likely get a decent return. There are plenty of teams that would love a chance at Love: Washington, Denver, and Atlanta could all use a look at a young, promising quarterback. Sure, the Packers would be wary of trading within the conference (i.e., Washington, Atlanta), but if it helps keep Rodgers around longer and the price is right, it’s not an impossible outcome.
For now, there’s been no indication that Green Bay is even entertaining the idea of a trade involving Love. If that situation changes, and if teams start to come knocking, don’t be surprised to see him on the move.