The Green Bay Packers have a good track record with first-round draft picks over the last decade, but one may try to push his way out of the green and gold before next season.
Quarterback Jordan Love has listened, learned and waited patiently for his turn for more than three years, ever since Green Bay selected him with the 26th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Now, he wants to play. There’s just one small complication — the two years remaining on Aaron Rodgers‘ historically rich contract.
Jason Wilde of The Athletic said in December after an interview with Love that he believed the QB would demand a trade this offseason if he wasn’t given the keys to the franchise. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler echoed those comments over a weekend edition of SportsCenter, predicting Love will ask out if Rodgers returns in 2023 — an outcome the franchise has purported publicly to desire.
The expectation league-wide, at least, talking to other teams is they expect Rodgers will play this season. He’s got a $60 million balloon payment coming to him. It’s due between March and the beginning of the season and it’s guaranteed, so probably tough to walk away from that kind of coin.
Then the Packers have to decide — do they want him in the lineup or do they want to trade him? And really, they’ve been public that they want him back, and so that leaves Jordan Love in a precarious situation. Former first-round pick, he’s going on year four, it would not shock me if he requested a trade at that point because, from what I’m told, he wants to play. He feels like he’s ready, he’s been groomed for it, so something has to give.
Love’s NFL Experience With Packers Both Limited, Telling of Talent
Love can request a trade, the Packers can grant it, but the trickiest part of the equation might be finding the right deal/partner for a player in his unique circumstances.
Most rookie quarterbacks in the modern NFL, particularly those who end up first-round picks, are thrown into the fire either immediately or almost immediately. Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa were regular starters in their first seasons, while Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes became full-time in the job during their second campaigns. Love is looking for his first starting opportunity ahead of what will be his fourth professional season in 2023.
Mahomes is a champion and an MVP. Burrow no longer feels like a young quarterback, even though he’s only in year three and was taken in the same first-round as Love was. Instead, he’s an AFC winner on the brink of his second consecutive Super Bowl appearance. Tagovailoa, meanwhile, can lay claim to being the most accurate passer in the league this season when he wasn’t hurt, but also carries the concern of a concussion-prone player.
The point is, none of them are defined any longer by where they were selected in the draft. Love, however, still has some value attached to the moniker of first-round pick because of how few meaningful minutes he’s achieved across three seasons. His lack of experience hurts his value, but Love can also boast reasonable statistics during the couple of chances he has gotten. That includes a 6-of-9 effort for 113 yards and a touchdown during the second half of a road game in November against the Philadelphia Eagles, who will host the NFC Championship on Sunday.
Possible Trade Partners For Love Include Commanders, Seahawks and Jets
Three years into his career without earning the starting job in Green Bay, Love no longer possesses the expected potential of a top pick in the draft, even though there’s still a chance he actually has it. However, there is a reasonable sample size of observable, in-game talent and success to suggest that Love retains a high ceiling at the position.
The kind of team, then, most likely to trade for him is one on the brink of success despite a deficiency at quarterback, as well as one that may have a hard time attracting the biggest of names in free agency — like a Tom Brady, for instance.
Love’s contract includes $2.3 million owed next year and a team option for approximately $20 million in 2024. The catch is that the option must be picked up by May of this year — several months before Love would take the field in a regular season game. Still, the bet is small enough that a team like the Commanders, or perhaps the Seattle Seahawks, could run the risk of it not paying off.
Heading into 2023, an average NFL quarterback is a bargain at $20 million annually. That’s only going to be more true in 2024. A team like the Commanders can cut ties easily enough and head a different direction if it doesn’t work out with Love. A team like the Seahawks, who pick at both No. 5 and No. 20 in this year’s draft, can select a quarterback to develop behind Love as a failsafe.
A two-year commitment to a 24-year-old Love, who hasn’t proven much in the NFL, is still probably safer than a long-term deal for the resurrected Geno Smith, who is 32 and waited nine years to prove anything of note. In a year or two, Love can be traded, cut, extended or franchised — all depending on how well a QB prospect develops over the same period.
A team like the New York Jets, more liable to take a big swing at a player like Brady in free agency or make a wild trade offer for a QB like Rodgers, could pursue Love if they are ultimately unable to land any larger names.