A breakout year for the Green Bay Packers quarterback now could put the status of Jordan Love in jeopardy.
When the Green Bay Packers handled the Chicago Bears in Week 17, it was a culmination of a ridiculously successful regular season. At 13-3, the Packers posted the top record in the NFC, forcing the playoffs to head through Lambeau Field and the freezing cold of January.
In large part, the Packers hold the top spot due to Aaron Rodgers. Check that, it’s almost all due to Rodgers and his resurgence to begin the new decade.
He threw for a career-best 48 touchdowns. The team punted a league-low 46 times. If that doesn’t say MVP, nothing will.
Listen to the #Packers radio call 📻
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) January 5, 2021
Rodgers will be set as the face of the franchise for another season. However, the attention turns to first-round pick Jordan Love, who was inactive for the season finale and most of the season as the team’s third quarterback.
So the question is, how does Rodgers’ redefined success affect Love’s status with the Packers moving forward? Simple. It doesn’t.
Love’s role was always limited for 2020
Brian Gutekunst might feel foolish after seeing names like Jordyn Brooks, Patrick Queen and Tee Higgins make impacts for their franchises in year one. However, the job of a general manager is to build for the future while also bettering the present product.
In 2019, the team’s first selection was edge rusher Rashan Gary. His role was limited during the rookie campaign, but his snap count raised in year 2. By the season’s end, the Michigan product was seeing roughly 45 percent of snaps or higher.
AJ Dillon seemed to be a strange selection when drafted out of Boston College. For most of the season, he played the third-string role behind Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Then, against the Tennessee Titans, Dillon averaged 5.4 yards per play and scored two touchdowns on a career night.
Dear @packers fans,
When Jordan Love is at his best, this is what he is capable of. Does this look like someone you know? Sure does to me. pic.twitter.com/qIK3JdCxDP
— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) April 24, 2020
Why is that important? Jones and Williams are free agents and the Packers won’t have enough to pay both. One of the Smith brothers could become a cap casualty, meaning Gary will enter a near full-time role starting in 2021.
Rodgers’ dead cap figure drops to $17.2 million in 2022 and goes to $2.8 million in 2023. By then, he’ll be 39 and could be ready to call it a career. Even if he isn’t, who’s to say that 2020 was just a final hurrah before age becomes more than a number.
Hindsight is 20-20. No one knows the long-term status of a rookie’s success. But it’s also important to build for the future, well after the stars are gone.
Rodgers spent three full seasons riding the pine before becoming the starter. Love was never in line to take over. Time is a ticking clock and soon, the Packers could be in line to lose one All-Pro, but have another in waiting.