It used to be commonplace for a first-round quarterback prospect to sit at least a year or two before being thrown into a sink-or-swim scenario as a starter. Aaron Rodgers himself rode the pine for three seasons behind Hall-of-Fame gunslinger Brett Favre before he got his shot, a waiting period that appears to have served the four-time MVP quite well.
But Green Bay was committed to Rodgers even in his youth, so much so that the franchise moved on from Favre who still had a great season in him — one he played out for the Minnesota Vikings two years later, falling one win and a “Bountygate” scandal shy of a Super Bowl appearance. The opposite appears true where Love is concerned. While the futures of most NFL quarterbacks have been decided — or can at least be projected with relative accuracy — after three seasons, Love’s career has yet to really begin.
ESPN’s Rob Demovsky asked Love outright on Wednesday if he will be asking the Packers for a trade come this offseason, as a lack of starting experience has kept his feet out of the football fire for so long that Love has begun to feel left out in the cold.
“We’ll see,” Love responded. “I would obviously be in the fourth year of my contract, and it would be the team’s possibility of picking up my fifth year. It’s really on them to see what kind of moves they want to make, what they want to do with the future.”
Rodgers Remains Packers’ Immediate Future at Quarterback Position
The current Packers regime appears to have done Love a disservice by drafting him before Rodgers’ utility was spent. The future Hall-of-Fame QB put together back-to-back MVP campaigns in Love’s first two seasons and despite a relative down year in 2022, Rodgers is still on pace to post nearly 4,000 yards passing and 29 touchdowns. He also signed the richest annual contract in NFL history during the offseason, guaranteeing him north of $150 million over a three-year span.
Anyone can say what they will about Rodgers’ purported decline and how Love has stepped up his game in his third season, but Green Bay has given no indications that it is ready to move on from its 15-year franchise quarterback.
Meanwhile, Love has started only regular season game in his career, which he earned in Week 9 of last season because Rodgers was forced to sit due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Love completed 19-of-34 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a 13-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He also carried the ball five times for a total of 23 yards.
Love Retains Legitimate Trade Value if Packers Act Soon
The Packers have until May to decide whether to exercise the fifth-year option on Love. The exact cost is based on a tier system that factors in playing time and Pro-Bowl selections, per Over The Cap.
Love is likely to fall into a tier that would place his one-year salary at the average of the third-highest through the 25th-highest paid players at the quarterback position over the last five years. To offer some context, The Roar on BetMGM noted that this total would have been $19.6 million if the QB had been drafted in 2019. As a 2020 pick, Love’s number is likely to be a little bit higher.
Roughly $20 million is a lot to spend on an unproven quarterback, particularly if the odds dictate he will either still be the backup or be stepping into a full-time starting role for the first time upon entering his fifth season.
Green Bay is likely to see more of Love as its starter should the Packers fall Thursday night to the Tennessee Titans. A loss moves the team to 4-7 with an uphill battle to even contend for a Wildcard berth. A win, however, would be Green Bay’s second in four days and would keep the Packers competitive at 5-6 with 10 days of rest before a road trip to play the NFC-leading Philadelphia Eagles.
If Love can’t get enough time on the field in 2022 for Green Bay to make a true assessment of his progress, another option is to trade him and look for Rodgers’ replacement a year or two down the line.
The NFL is bereft enough at the quarterback position as a whole to justify a mid-round pick in exchange for Love. Multiple interested teams could probably drive his price into a 2023 second-round selection — less of an asset than what the Packers spent to acquire Love three years prior, but a better option than committing two more seasons and more than $20 million to a question mark at QB who may never elevate to a starter within that timeframe.