The Packers don’t have to trade the quarterback this offseason but the longer they wait, the less leverage they’ll have. As it stands, Love still retains enough trade value to get something significant in return, like a wide receiver to help aid Aaron Rodgers should the four-time MVP return to the fold in 2023 — the outcome widely considered the most likely in this most recent chapter of his late-career saga.
One such player potentially in the mix for Green Bay is wide receiver D.J. Moore of the Carolina Panthers. The Packers offered the Panthers a first-round pick for Moore at the 2022 trade deadline, which Carolina declined. However, with the chance to snag a starting-caliber quarterback out of the deal, it might behoove the Panthers to reconsider.
From Green Bay’s perspective, the franchise spent a late first-round selection on Love in the 2020 NFL Draft and if they can get something similar back for him, that would be ideal. Moore was a late first-round selection in 2018 and will begin playing on his second contract next season — a three-year deal worth $61.9 million.
Several QB-Needy Teams Afford Packers Chance to Get Value in Love Trade
Carolina is one of several NFL franchises that will be looking for a quarterback early in the first round of this year’s draft.
The problem for a team like the Panthers, however, is that there are only three QBs that grade out with value in that range — Bryce Young of Alabama, C.J. Stroud of Ohio State and Will Levis of Kentucky. Selecting at No. 9 overall, there are arguably six organizations in front of Carolina that will take a quarterback if the value is there, meaning the Panthers may well have to trade up to get the job done in the first round.
“The Panthers haven’t taken a quarterback in the first round since Cam Newton with the top pick in 2011. With a … top-10 pick, it is time to end the quarterback turmoil the team has been in since midway through the 2018 season, when Newton suffered a shoulder injury,” David Newton of ESPN wrote on January 8. “With the trade of running back Christian McCaffrey to the [San Francisco] 49ers, general manager Scott Fitterer has positioned himself to have the picks to move up for a quarterback if necessary.”
The other option for Fitterer is to stay where he is and find better positional value in the top 10 than might normally exist without surrendering any assets. He can do that by dealing Moore for Love.
Love hasn’t played many meaningful minutes across his three NFL seasons, but he did showcase his talents expertly during the second half of a primetime Sunday Night Football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 27, in which he went 6-of-9 for 113 yards and a touchdown while putting up a QB rating of 146.8.
The move would be a moderate gamble for the Panthers, but would make sense if they can get it done for a receiver who, while productive, has yet to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl in five professional seasons.
If Carolina decides to play hardball, the team might be able to extract a mid-round draft pick along with Love in exchange for Moore.
Another option would be to offer the Packers their second-round selection (No. 41 overall) for Love straight up, which they could do without sacrificing a pick in that round after acquiring the Niners’ selection via the McCaffrey trade. Green Bay would have to seriously consider such an offer based on where Love was picked and what his trade value can be reasonably presented as three years later.
Packers Must Provide Rodgers With More WR Help if He Stays
The only reason to move Love is if Rodgers plans to return to Green Bay next season, and the only choice the Packers have if he does come back is to get him a little more talent.
Rodgers has been criticized, fairly, for missing too much preseason time and not getting on the same page with rookie receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs until it was too late. The franchise has also been criticized, fairly, for not investing appropriately in a receiving corps despite all the money they spent on both the QB position and the roster in general last year.
As an explosive downfield threat, Moore would fit in well with Green Bay’s offense and would allow the Packers to line up with speed on both sides of the field (with Watson lining up on the other side). Moore has produced three seasons of more than 1,000 yards receiving and boasts a career average of 14.3 yards per catch, per Pro Football Reference.
Moving off of Love would save Green Bay approximately $20 million in 2024 (the estimated cost of his fifth-year option), which is almost exactly the same amount as Moore’s salary cap hit that season. The Packers could also add an NFL-ready tight end in the middle of the first round by drafting Michael Mayer out of Notre Dame with the 15th overall pick, thereby acquiring two more viable weapons for Rodgers alongside Watson and Doubs.