With the 2020 NFL Draft in the books, let’s take a moment and break down one of the biggest surprises of the entire draft. NFL organizations like to plan for the future when they feel that their roster needs to transition into a new era. The NFL, in many ways, can stand for “Not For Long”; an example of this is the expiration date the Packers put on the Aaron Rodgers era during the 2020 NFL Draft. The Packers originally had the 30th selection in the first round. However, they decided to trade with New England and move up to pick 23. This resulted in their selection of quarterback Jordan Love from Utah State. This was the biggest surprise of the draft for a team that has Aaron Rodgers, a likely future Hall of Famer; not to mention that the Packers were just in the NFC Championship game in 2019. The timing would be odd for most teams, but the Packers did the same thing to Hall of Famer Brett Favre with the selection of Aaron Rodgers. Now the real question becomes, what is the packers plan moving forward? I see three options in the situation: sit Jordan Love one, two, or three seasons behind Rodgers.
If the team decides to make the transition early and play Love after just one-year, they will have to do so with a disgruntled Rodgers still on the roster. The main reason the timing of this pick is odd is that, with Rodgers’ huge dead money, the team will hopefully see zero impact from their first-round pick in his first year and possibly longer. The dead cap hit for Rodgers is $51 million in 2020. With a dead-money hit like that, it is impossible to trade Rodgers anytime soon. So if the team wants to put Love on the field, they will have to do so with their future Hall of Fame quarterback holding a clipboard. This would be ridiculous, and if it occurs I would expect the fans base to riot in the streets of Green Bay, Wisconsin.
The second option in this situation would be to wait two years and try to trade Rodgers, who has a $36 million cap hit with $31 million in dead money in 2021. Those numbers are huge, but for a player of Rodgers talent and experience it wouldn’t shock me to see a team be willing to pay him $36 million for one year. The big question would be whether or not the Packers want to put their faith in Love and have a rebuilding year that will cripple their cap situation for one season with that $31 million in dead money still on their books following a potential trade. If the team feels that Love is ready though, and they can’t get over the hump with Rodgers, why not go ahead and start your rebuild as early in Jordan Love’s rookie deal as possible? After all, no experience can be more valuable than in-game experience for a young guy. This would be something we have never seen in this league because of the money situation, but it would not surprise me at all. Considering how they like to do things in the Packers organization, the phrase “The NFL stands for Not For Long” really seems to ring true here, even if you have one of the most talented guys in this league. Nobody is irreplaceable in this game, and Rodgers is learning that the hard way.
The third and final scenario in this Aaron Rodgers Jordan Love quarterback controversy is to wait and let Love sit behind Rodgers for three years. This plan would give Love the most time to develop behind one of the best quarterbacks ever, and would not destroy the team’s cap space once they move on from Rodgers in 2022. The dead money on his deal will drop from $31 million in 2021 down to $17 million in 2022. With a three year plan, Rodgers is experiencing exactly what the team did to fellow Green Bay superstar quarterback, Brett Favre, years ago. They took Rodgers in the first round and let him sit and develop behind Farve for three years. That decision worked well, and doing the same makes the most sense with Rodgers and Love. The team will not have to sacrifice their finances, and Love would be more developed and ready to play by the end of the 2022 season.
In conclusion, it is sad to see the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay end in such a disrespectful way, but Rodgers is now older than Favre was when they decided to start transitioning him out for a young Aaron Rodgers. With that being said, it is obvious that the team is looking to the future; unfortunately, that future is without Rodgers under center. Luckily for the organization, they have multiple options on how to handle this situation. I expect the third option listed, which includes Love waiting and developing behind Rodgers for three years as the long term plan in Green Bay. This plan gives them the best shot at a smooth transition financially and from a development standpoint with Love. It will also show Rodgers the respect he deserves, allowing him to play out a majority of his current contract. The biggest thing I question is if Jordan Love can come close to the norm in Green Bay that we have seen at quarterback over the last 30 years between Favre and Rodgers. I like Love’s potential if he sits for three years because I currently view him as a project player with a high upside. He will need multiple years to develop, but I think the team is in a good spot moving forward, if they allow him that time. Don’t be surprised though if the team decides to transition the path of the organization and make the QB change sooner rather than later. I know this is an odd time for Packers fans, but be glad that your team is trying to build for the future. Even though it seems to be affecting their potential in 2020, the team has a plan in place that will provide stability at the quarterback position for, hopefully, another 15 years in Green Bay.