Packers Trade up, Draft Potential Aaron Rodgers Replacement

Packers Draft Love

Getty Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after a play against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Championship game at Levi's Stadium on January 19, 2020 in Santa Clara, California.

Brian Gutekunst knew when he became the Green Bay Packers‘ general manager two years ago that he would likely be the man burdened with finding the team’s next quarterback after Aaron Rodgers.

And now, that quarterback could be on his way to Green Bay.

Gutekunst pulled off a wild draft-night trade late in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft on Thursday night, agreeing to send the Packers’ first-round (No. 30 overall) and fourth-round (No. 136) picks to the Miami Dolphins in order to move up and select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love at No. 26 overall.

Love, who was the fourth quarterback taken out of the 2020 class, is the first quarterback to be drafted by the Packers since they selected Brett Hundley in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. While they have taken a few others as well throughout Rodgers’ tenure — including second-rounder Brian Brohm in 2008 — none have been able to dethrone him as the starter.

Rodgers, who is a two-time league MVP, is currently under contract through the 2023 season and, as recently as Thursday, expressed interest in pushing his playing career to a full two decades to follow some of the others ahead of him. But there have been doubts about Rodgers — who turns 37 next season — and his capabilities after 2019 saw his production continue to decline in some specific areas, including completion percentage and quarterback rating.

The Packers do have a potential out on Rodgers’ contract after the 2021 season, but it would be difficult to anticipate them moving on from their superstar at this point even with a budding young talent like Love now stashed behind him on the depth chart.

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A Closer Look at Jordan Love

The Packers were one of several teams who held virtual pre-draft meetings with Love, but it isn’t likely anyone outside of the Gutekunst’s draft room knew just how much the Packers liked Love’s talents until they confirmed their pick on Thursday night.

Love was a three-year starter at Utah State who played his best ball as a sophomore in 2018, throwing for more than 3,500 yards with 32 touchdown passes and just six interceptions. But as a junior, Love took a slide in terms of ball security as his touchdowns went down (to just 20) while his interceptions spiked (to a whopping 17) across the same number of games.

Love’s high number of interceptions has led to him being a polarizing quarterback in this year’s draft class, but the Packers could offer him an ideal scenario to take his game to the next level with little-to-no pressure for him immediately take the reins. His situation is not unlike the one Rodgers faced when he was drafted to the Packers in 2005, left to sit and learn behind Brett Favre for three seasons before succeeding him.

Don’t forget: Rodgers is now one year older than Favre was when he was brought in to usher in the new era. Given how rocky that relationship got started, one would think Rodgers will take a better approach to mentoring Love over the next few seasons.

At the same time, Rodgers has already shared his thoughts on the possibility of the Packers bringing in another quarterback to one day assume his role.

“I’ve always felt like it doesn’t matter who you bring in, they’re not going to be able to beat me out anytime soon,” Rodgers said in March. “I feel really confident about my abilities and my place.”

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