Will he stay? Will he play elsewhere? Will Rodgers even retire? That final question is something I don’t think anyone seriously considered before this past week.
Caught in the middle of this is Jordan Love, the quarterback the Packers traded up for in the first round of last year’s draft. None of it is his fault. He didn’t ask for this. But his future is directly tied to what happens next with Rodgers.
Love was drafted with the hope he’d get a few years to develop behind one of the greatest ever, then take over the reins when the time was right.
Clearly, this hasn’t gone as smoothly as the Packers would’ve liked.
Not only because of the current Rodgers uncertainty, but also the pandemic-hit 2020 season which gave Love little time to show what he can do. A reduced offseason program on the practice field, no preseason games, and Tim Boyle taking the majority of the backup reps at practice meant Love didn’t get much time on the field.
Is he anywhere near ready to start? The Packers likely have no idea.
They’ll learn a lot more about Love’s development over the summer and in the preseason. But they may need to make a decision on Rodgers way before that.
Commitment to Rodgers could put Love’s future in doubt
What if the Packers and Rodgers come to a solution to this problem that ends up in the reigning MVP signing a contract extension?
That kind of commitment from the Packers would likely ensure Rodgers is going nowhere for the next three, four, or maybe even five years. Perhaps they’d include a no-trade clause to give Rodgers additional security.
This would be great news as it means Rodgers stays in Green Bay and gets an opportunity to close out a Hall of Fame career with one team. He may also win another Super Bowl with the Packers.
But where does that leave Love?
If Rodgers is in Green Bay another four or five years, chances are Love will be playing elsewhere far sooner than that. Even if the Packers pick up his fifth-year option, he’d only be under contract another four years.
Much like how the Tom Brady-Jimmy Garoppolo situation played out in New England, the timing was way off and the Patriots ended up trading Garoppolo to the 49ers. If Rodgers returns to Green Bay and the team commits to him long term, trading Love might be the only option.
If Love is the successor in Green Bay, it needs to be in the next one to three years. It can’t be any later than that. Love needs to play and he’ll want to play. Waiting on the bench four-plus years suits nobody.
Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love?
If the Packers remain committed to Love being the future, is there any realistic way Rodgers returns? Without long-term security? It’s impossible to say. But why would things suddenly change?
I can’t blame Rodgers either. If I were a future Hall-of-Famer coming off an MVP season, you can bet I’d want some kind of long-term commitment from my team.
But I can also see the other side. The Packers know Rodgers will turn 38 this December. It’s also their job to put the Packers’ interests first. If that means drafting a QB who will eventually start, that’s part of their job.
But if they remain committed to Love, a player they traded up for in the first round, it might mean Rodgers’ career in Green Bay ends sooner than anybody hoped.
How this all ends is completely unpredictable. Only those involved know the ins and outs of the conversations and the details of this situation. But it seems unlikely a repeat of 2020 — Rodgers playing on his current contract with Love being developed for the future — remains possible.
Something has to give. Either the Packers commit to Rodgers long term and potentially have to abandon the plan of Love eventually taking over, or they commit to Love and risk losing Rodgers.
What happens next? Nobody knows. But Love’s future with the Packers is tied directly to what happens with Rodgers.