The Green Bay Packers have spent three seasons with one foot in the present and one foot in the future, but the time to pick a direction is fast-approaching.
Right now, the entirety of the franchise’s focus is on beating a decimated Los Angeles Rams team at Lambeau Field on Monday, December 19, and keeping alive their thin hopes at a Wildcard playoff berth. But if Green Bay (5-8) loses — either to the Rams or any of the other opponents remaining on their schedule, thereby facing elimination from the postseason — the attention will immediately turn toward an uncertain, and potentially volatile, situation under center.
Circumstances in Green Bay make it more and more likely that the organization will be forced to choose between starter Aaron Rodgers and former first-round pick/backup QB Jordan Love. That may not prove the case if Love decides he’s willing to continue sitting behind Rodgers for a fourth consecutive year, but one Packers insider doesn’t believe the third-year player is willing to do that.
“I had a really great conversation with Jordan [Love] on Friday afternoon,” Jason Wilde of The Athletic said, per Peter Bukowski on Twitter. “I think he very clearly, even though he wouldn’t flat-out say it, he does not want to sit for another year. So, if we get to year four and Rodgers does come back, I am fairly confident that he will seek a trade.”
Love Speaks Out on Sitting Behind Rodgers, as Peers Make Way in NFL
Love spoke to Wilde at length about what it’s been like to learn from Rodgers, and also how it has felt to watch other QBs from his draft class succeed while he continues to patiently wait his turn. Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals, Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins, Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers and Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles were all picked the same year the Packers traded up to select Love.
“I wouldn’t say I get jealous of them. I think of the position they’re in. We’re all obviously from the same class, and they came in and got the opportunity to play right away. That’s just not the situation here,” Love told Wilde in an article that ran on December 12. “I think if I came in and was starting my first year and was able to play three years as a starter, I think I’d be right there with them, doing the same things. But, that’s just not the situation.”
Love has started just one game to this point in his career, against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9 last season. The Chiefs bested the Packers 13-7, while Love completed 19-of-34 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He played much better on November 27 during the second half against the Eagles in place of the injured Rodgers, in the only real playing time Love has seen this season. The backup completed 6-of-9 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, and looked highly competent in the process.
Despite the desire to be on the field, Love admitted to Wilde he believes his time on the sidelines will help him when he finally gets his shot.
“I just think I’m getting this opportunity to sit, learn and not be thrown into the fire right away, and I think it’ll pay off, for sure,” Love said. “I’m appreciative of the situation. Obviously, I want to be out there on the field. But I’m appreciative of the situation.”
Aaron Rodgers in Control of QB Situation in Green Bay
Rodgers has two years remaining on his contract, but has faced a measure of doubt this season unprecedented at any other point in his career. The four-time MVP has been banged up in 2022, suffering a broken thumb and a serious rib injury. His production has dipped and the team has struggled in ways Green Bay fans simply haven’t been familiar with for much of the last three decades. Compounded by recent playoff disappointments and a handful of contentious interactions with the team and its fans, Rodgers is feeling the heat like never before.
However, he is also under contract for two more seasons and is due a bonus of $58 million in 2023. If he doesn’t walk away from it via retirement, the Packers either have to pay him or trade him. Trading Rodgers could be a complicated endeavor considering the amount of money left on his deal. However, a handful of teams with Super Bowl aspirations could use an upgrade at QB, and if they believe Rodgers is healthy and prepared to play, a trade centered around him is a possibility.
If the Packers aren’t interested in a changing of the guard in 2023, they do have the option to retain Rodgers and Love both. The team can pick up the fifth year on Love’s rookie contract, a choice they must make by May of next year. Technically, Love has no recourse to force his way out of Green Bay, but professional athletes are often successful when pushing for relocation, specifically if they carry the clout of playing quarterback and/or being considered a superstar.
Rodgers is both, Love is just the former, at least for now. However, it seems unlikely that Rodgers would agree to finish the last year or two of his illustrious career as a lame duck quarterback, or that Love is prepared to wait four or even five full years before getting a chance as a starter. Not to mention, keeping both would make for an extremely expensive price tag for the Packers at the position, though general manager Brian Gutekunst has indicated that’s what the team intends to do.
In other words, something probably has to give. It appears based on Wilde’s report that the most likely scenario is Love pushing for a trade this offseason.