Jordan Love

Rookie WR Brandon Aiyuk, Rookie QB Jordan Love Received Fully Guaranteed Deals

It sounds like players and agents are making progress in getting guaranteed money for all first rounders. ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports (via Twitter) that 49ers wideout Brandon Aiyuk (No. 25) and Packers quarterback Jordan Love (No. 26) received fully guaranteed rookie deals.

This is a significant difference from last year, when only the first 24 picks received fully-guaranteed deals. Last year’s 25th and 26th picks were Ravens receiver Marquise Brown and Redskins defensive end Montez Sweat, respectively. It’s worth pointing out that both the 49ers and Packers traded up for those aforementioned rookies, so it’s not shocking that the front offices were comfortable enough giving guaranteed money.

San Francisco sent No. 31, No. 117, and No. 176 to Minnesota for No. 25, which they used on Aiyuk. The Arizona State product earned first team All-Pac-12 honors in 2019 after hauling in 65 receptions for 1,192 yards and eight touchdowns. The wideout should have a chance to contribute immediately for San Francisco; Emmanuel Sanders departed in free agency while second-year pro Deebo Samuel recently suffered a broken foot. The 49ers signed Aiyuk to his rookie deal last month.

The Packers surprised many when they traded No. 30 and No. 136 to Miami in order to select Love at No. 26. The quarterback got into 13 games for Utah State in 2019, completing 61.9-percent of his passes for 3,402 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. While the three rookie QBs drafted in front of him will be starting sooner than later, Love will likely serve as Aaron Rodgers‘ backup for the next few years. The Packers signed their rookie quarterback earlier this week.

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Packers Sign QB Jordan Love

Aaron Rodgers‘ heir apparent is officially in the fold. On Wednesday, the Packers officially announced the signing of quarterback Jordan Love.

[RELATED: Packers Sign A.J. Dillon]

The Packers were rumored to be interested in the Utah State QB before the draft, but it was still a surprise to see them trade up to take Love in the first round. The Packers gave up pick No. 136 in the fourth-round to move up four spots, grabbing the promising youngster at No. 26 overall. In accordance with his slot, Love will earn $12.38MM over the full life of the four-year contract and collect a $5.56MM signing bonus.

Opinions were split on Love heading into the draft. He was viewed as a potential top pick after a dominant sophomore season where he averaged 8.6 yards per attempt with 32 touchdowns and six interceptions. Then, in 2019, Love regressed – he averaged just 7.2 yards per attempt with 20 touchdowns against 17 interceptions.

Meanwhile, no one’s quite sure of what this means for Rodgers.

I’m not going to talk about all that we talked about, but he was … let’s just say surprised that they went in that direction,” Rodgers’ predecessor Brett Favre said in May. I think he’ll play somewhere else.”

Favre’s “gut” tells him that Rodgers won’t finish his career in Green Bay. For now, he’s under contract through 2023 with cap numbers in excess of $36MM in 2021 and ’22.

With Love signed, the Packers have just three stragglers to go. Here’s the full rundown of their draft class, via PFR’s tracker:

1-26: Jordan Love, QB (Utah State): Signed
2-62: A.J. Dillon, RB (Boston College): Signed
3-94: Josiah Deguara, TE (Cincinnati)
5-175: Kamal Martin, LB (Minnesota)
6-192: Jon Runyan, G (Michigan): Signed
6-208: Jake Hanson, C (Oregon)
6-209: Simon Stepaniak, T (Indiana): Signed
7-236: Vernon Scott, S (TCU): Signed
7-242: Jonathan Garvin, DE (Miami): Signed

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Latest On Packers’ QB Situation, Draft Plan

The person most familiar with the situation in which Aaron Rodgers now finds himself, Brett Favre said his former successor was surprised the Packers traded up for Jordan Love in Round 1. Favre also expects Rodgers to finish his career with another team.

Rodgers has four years remaining on his Packers contract, one agreed to in 2018, and has said on multiple occasions he would like to play into his 40s. The two-time MVP will turn 37 in December.

I’m not going to talk about all that we talked about, but he was … let’s just say surprised that they went in that direction,” Favre said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast (via ESPN.com). “… I think he’ll play somewhere else.

My gut tells me no,” Favre said of Rodgers finishing his career in Green Bay. “I don’t know this for certain, but I guarantee you, it’s got the wheels turning in Aaron’s mind. If that’s the case, then that means there’s a chip on his shoulder toward the organization that otherwise was not there. All he needs is a reason other than this reason to expedite that.”

GM Brian Gutekunst, who was with the Packers as a scout when predecessor Ted Thompson drafted a falling Rodgers at No. 24 overall in 2005, determined Love’s long-term potential was more valuable than picking a player who could help the 2020 Packers, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes.

Gutekunst did not expect Love to fall into the mid-20s and told NBC Sports’ Peter King the Packers had him rated too highly on their board to pass. The Packers had “significant intel” a team with an early-second-round pick was targeting Love, per King. While that may have been the case, no team appeared interested in taking Love late in Round 1.

As a result of this and some surprising choices as the draft progressed, the Packers have the same wide receiver depth chart — excluding UDFAs — they did coming into the virtual event. Rodgers and some other members of the Packers organization were “enamored” with LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson, per Demovsky. Jefferson ended up going to the Vikings at No. 22. And the Packers stunned most by exiting a stacked receiver draft without selecting one.

Gutekunst told King the Packers targeted two receivers in Round 2 and made attempts to trade up with several teams. After both were picked, they ended up selecting running back A.J. Dillon at No. 62. Tee Higgins (Bengals), Michael Pittman Jr. (Colts), Laviska Shenault (Jaguars), K.J. Hamler (Broncos), Chase Claypool (Steelers), Van Jefferson (Rams) and Denzel Mims (Jets) went off the board between Nos. 33 and 59.

The Packers received historically poor production from their pass-catcher group last season. For the first time since 1977, Green Bay had just one player (Davante Adams) record more than 500 receiving yards (excluding the 1982 strike-shortened season).

They don’t draft any weapons — not just in the first round but any weapons that can help immediately, to my knowledge. And that just sends a disrespectful message to Aaron Rodgers,” Favre said. “He has every right to be disappointed if he is.”

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Latest On Packers, Jordan Love

In a big win for pre-draft rumors, the Packers’ interest in Jordan Love was quite real. But their trade-up to No. 26 did not fully illustrate how much the franchise coveted the Utah State product.

The Packers had a deal worked out with the Seahawks, who picked at No. 27, but decided to climb up to 26 (via the Dolphins) to make the pick, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). This was not a case of the Packers changing course to take a falling quarterback; they were “adamant” on taking one, per Rapoport.

While the Packers’ fascination with Love could have induced another team to trade ahead of them at No. 30, Rapoport adds that it does not look like anyone else was pursuing him in that range. The Colts did not make any calls to move up for Love, Rapoport notes. They ended up drafting Jacob Eason in Round 4. The Packers traded a fourth-round pick (No. 136) to climb up four spots for Love. The Seahawks ended up taking linebacker Jordyn Brooks at No. 27.

Green Bay being able to execute the ultra-rare years-long developmental program before — when Aaron Rodgers developed from 2005-07 behind Brett Favre — has the franchise confident this latest effort can work. Rodgers, however, has made it clearer than Favre did at that point that he wants to play many more seasons. The 36-year-old passer has said on multiple occasions he wants to play into his 40s. The Love addition opens the door to the future Hall of Famer finishing his career elsewhere.

Rodgers’ contract runs through 2023. His cap numbers spike beyond $36MM in 2021 and ’22. Although Love could be a star-in-training like Rodgers once was, the Packers keeping Rodgers during most of Love’s rookie contract will negate the potential benefit the organization would gain from that rookie deal. That has been a key roster-building tool for several Super Bowl teams since the 2011 CBA went into effect.

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Packers HC, GM On Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love

The Packers caused quite a stir on Thursday night when they traded up to the No. 26 overall pick to select polarizing Utah State QB Jordan Love. Right away, the NFL world was buzzing about what the move means for Aaron Rodgers‘ future and — perhaps just as importantly — how Rodgers would react.

Head coach Matt LaFleur was asked about those issues on Saturday, and as expected, he tried to downplay the drama as much as possible.

“Aaron is a pro, and he’s the leader of our football team, and I anticipate that for a really long time,” LaFleur said (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). “I have so much respect for him not only as a player but the person, and some of the stuff that nobody sees. So I can’t tell you how much I like working with him.”

LaFleur, though, declined to say what he meant by “a really long time.” Rodgers, 36, is under contract through the 2023 season, and while he experienced something of a decrease in production in 2019, he was still effective and continues to look the part of a top-tier signal-caller. He has yet to speak publicly on the Love pick, but given that Green Bay made an aggressive move to select his potential successor and did little to upgrade his cadre of pass catching weapons, you can be sure that he is none too pleased.

Of course, Love is now in a very similar situation to the one that Rodgers was in when A-Rod was selected in the first round of the 2005 draft: a surprise pick who will be groomed behind a curmudgeonly legend with the unenviable task of ultimately replacing said legend. It obviously worked out for Rodgers, but we probably won’t know how it will work out for Love for a couple of years.

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst was also asked about a potential Rodgers-to-Love succession. “The reason that back when we moved from Brett [Favre] to Aaron was because of what Aaron had done his first three years here, and that’s got to happen with Jordan,” Gutekunst said. “He has to be able to do the work and he has to do that for us to make us believe that he can be a starting quarterback in the National Football League. We drafted him in the first round, we certainly think he has that kind of talent. But that’s not enough in the National Football League. You’ve got to work, you’ve got to earn it, you’ve got to become a good enough player.”

Rodgers is scheduled to carry a cap charge of over $39MM in 2022. Although Green Bay would have to absorb a significant dead money hit by releasing him prior to that season, it would also save about $22MM of cap space by doing so. So if Love progresses as the Packers hope, it would not be surprising to see them make the same difficult, but possibly necessary, transition at that time.

“Again, we have one of the best to ever lace them up, and we’re shooting for championships for as long as he’s here, and we expect him to be here for quite a while,” Gutekunst said. His definition of “quite a while,” and LaFleur’s definition of “a long time,” may be about the same: two years.

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Dolphins Trade 26th Pick To Green Bay, Packers Take Jordan Love

The Packers are making a surprising splash. They’ve traded up with the Dolphins to get the 26th pick, and are using it on Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.

We’ve been waiting for some fireworks, and this certainly qualifies. Green Bay is setting up for the post-Aaron Rodgers era, and it’ll be very interesting to see what Rodgers thinks of this selection. The Packers gave up pick 136 in the fourth-round to move up four spots from 30. The Pack apparently “secretly coveted” Love in the pre-draft process, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets.

The Packers made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game last year, but it wasn’t Rodgers’ finest season statistically and he’ll turn 37 in December. Rodgers is under contract through the 2023 season, and he isn’t likely going to be too happy about a first-round rookie breathing down his neck.

It’s a bold move by GM Brian Gutekunst, and one that will take several years at least to be able to evaluate. Rodgers and others were hoping the team would draft a second receiver behind Davante Adams, but obviously that wasn’t the plan.

Love was a polarizing prospect, with many defenders and detractors in the analyst community. Viewed as a potential top pick after a dominant sophomore season where he averaged 8.6 yards per attempt with 32 touchdowns and six interceptions, he took a big step back in 2019.

In his junior campaign at Utah State, he averaged only 7.2 yards per attempt with 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Clearly that wasn’t enough to scare off the Packers. There had been some talk that the Dolphins might take a tackle with their first pick and look to add Love later on, but obviously they ended up going with Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth pick. Love won’t be the Packers’ starter in 2020, but he’ll create a lot of drama and headlines right away. Buckle up in Green Bay.

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Latest On Dolphins’ QB Plans

No team has been linked to more draft routes than the Dolphins, who hold three first-round picks and have been eyeing the 2020 draft’s quarterbacks for over a year. They have been busy on draft day thus far, being connected to the No. 3 and No. 1 picks.

Rumored to be negotiating a deal with the Lions to move up from No. 5 to No. 3, the Dolphins would take a tackle if they can complete that deal. However, part 2 of that swap may include a quarterback. The Dolphins have discussed the merits of taking a tackle with the first of their three first-round picks and then Jordan Love later in Round 1, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports.

While Thursday started with an increased chance the Dolphins and Lions would swap picks, Jaguars interest in the No. 3 selection emerged this afternoon. Of course, the Lions could also be hoping this entices the Dolphins to increase their offer for the pick.

Love has garnered internal support inside Dolphins headquarters (and in various Miami staffers’ in-home war rooms) for months. Before the NFL nixed pre-draft visits, the Dolphins brought the Utah State prospect in for one.

Viewed as closer to a boom-or-bust prospect, Love landed on draft radars with a dominant 2018 season but led Division I-FBS with 17 interceptions last season. Eschewing a possible Tua Tagovailoa pick at No. 3 in hopes of either drafting Love at No. 18 or moving up from 18 to draft him would be a risk. But the Dolphins have been scouting quarterbacks for many months.

Tagovailoa remains the quarterback they’ve been most connected to, with the Justin Herbert buzz having died down. We’ll find out soon enough if the Dolphins plan to execute this daring strategy.

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NFL Draft Rumors: Giants, Herbert, Tua

Will the Giants actually consider quarterback Justin Herbert with the No. 4 overall pick, even though they already have Daniel Jones under center? The answer is no, according to Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network, though GM Dave Gettleman has been eyeing him for quite some time. Had Herbert entered last year, he would have been Gettleman’s top choice, Pauline hears.

Here’s a look at the latest draft rumblings from around the NFL:

  • In private conversations, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has indicated that Herbert is not actually in consideration for the No. 5 pick, a source close to Ross tells Pauline. That same source says the pick will either be used on Tua Tagovailoa or a position player, with Jordan Love being selected sometime later. If it’s a non-QB at No. 5, Pauline hears that tackle Andrew Thomas is the most likely choice.
  • Multiple NFL execs tell ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler that the Vikings are looking to move back. The Vikings own Nos. 22 and 25, but they could fill their needs at cornerback and wide receiver later on. In the second round, they should be able to land one of this year’s second-tier corners such as Utah’s Jaylon Johnson, LSU’s Kristian Fulton, or Alabama’s Trevon Diggs – the brother of former Vikes receiver Stefon Diggs.
  • Based on what we’ve heard, Washington’s Jacob Eason profiles as a Day 2 pick for QB-needy teams like the Patriots. He could also be a fit for teams looking to groom their next signal caller. One AFC exec pondered the possibility of Eason going to the Buccaneers, where the pure passer serve as the heir to Tom Brady. The Bucs own the No. 45 overall pick in the second round and Eason could be there for them, provided that teams like the Colts (No. 34) don’t pounce first.

Draft QB Rumors: Bolts, Raiders, Pats

Let’s round up some of the recent QB-related rumors that are swirling in advance of Thursday’s draft:

  • The Chargers hold the No. 6 overall pick and are not inclined to trade up from that spot, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. The Bolts are fans of both Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa, and it seems almost certain that at least one of those passers will be available when Los Angeles is on the clock. The team could still go in a non-QB direction with the No. 6 pick, but it would be difficult to pass up a franchise-altering talent at the most important position in sports, especially since the Chargers will probably not be picking nearly as high in 2021.
  • Although the Raiders have Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota on the roster, La Canfora hears that the club could make a play for a QB with one of their two first-round picks. Las Vegas holds the No. 12 and No. 19 overall selections, and JLC believes the team could target a CB with the No. 12 pick and go after a QB like Tagovailoa — if he falls that far — or Jordan Love with the No. 19 pick. While the Raiders need a receiver and don’t have a second-round selection, this year’s draft is deep enough at WR that Las Vegas could still find an impact player with one of its three third-round choices.
  • The Patriots are in the market for a collegiate signal-caller, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says it’s a question of “when,” not “if”, New England drafts a QB this week. We recently heard that the Pats would find a passer in either the first round or middle rounds, and if a player like Herbert or Tagovailoa should start to slide, it would not be surprising to see them pull the trigger. Coincidentally, new personnel consultant Eliot Wolf was a Packers staffer in 2005, when Green Bay was the beneficiary of Aaron Rodgers‘ famous draft-day slide.
  • ESPN’s Matt Bowen wrote before last year’s draft that Jarrett Stidham was the QB that represented the best fit for the Patriots, and the Pats ultimately selected Stidham with a fourth-round pick. Bowen believes the rookie signal-caller that makes the most sense for New England this year is Washington’s Jacob Eason (subscription required). Eason profiles as a Day 2 pick, so he would not be the Pats’ target with their No. 23 overall choice, but he may be off the board by the time New England is on the clock again at No. 87.
  • Colts GM Chris Ballard will not force a QB pick in this year’s draft, though Indy has been linked to rookie passers. The team could select a signal-caller like Eason with one of its second-round choices, though the Colts remain high on Jacoby Brissett. It may seem unlikely, but Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star says the team continues to insist that it could forgo a quarterback in the 2020 draft and look to bring Brissett back in 2021.

East Notes: Giants, Love, Cowboys

Holding a top-six pick for the third straight year, the Giants have been linked to either Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons or a tackle. The Giants are immersed in thorough examination of Simmons, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noting the team is determining how he would fit in its scheme. Simmons saw action all over the formation for the Tigers but is viewed as either a linebacker or safety in the NFL. Some teams view Simmons as a safety. It is unclear where the Giants place him, though Joe Judge comes from a Patriots organization that valued versatility among defenders.

Regardless, rival GMs expect Dave Gettleman to select a tackle at No. 4 overall. Gettleman’s offensive line overhaul has not accomplished what he’d hoped, and a first-round pick could be slotted at right tackle before taking over for 2021 cap-casualty candidate Nate Solder on the left side. The Giants have been connected to Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs at multiple junctures this offseason.

Here is the latest from the East divisions:

  • Gettleman has taken his share of heat since becoming Giants GM in December 2017. He has, however, made some philosophical changes since taking over. He admitted to have miscalculated the Giants’ ability to be competitive in his first season as GM, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. From October 2018 to March 2019, Gettleman traded big-ticket free agent additions Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon while also dealing Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Apple. In addition to accepting this is a rebuild, Gettleman is now OK with negotiating contracts in-season, Schwartz adds.
  • Were the Lions to trade out of the No. 3 slot or pass on Jeffrey Okudah, the Giants may still pass on the Ohio State cornerback. Given the Giants’ 2019 first-round selection of Deandre Baker and their recent James Bradberry deal, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY would expect them to avoid picking a corner fourth overall.
  • A bold Dolphins strategy would be passing on a quarterback at No. 5 and preparing a Jordan Love move later in the first round. Other teams are convinced the Dolphins are intrigued by the Utah State prospect — whom Miami secured a visit with before the NFL shut down that process — but doubt they will gamble to that degree, La Canfora notes. The Dolphins’ actions over the past year and change have been centered around landing their franchise quarterback in this draft. Although they hold the Nos. 18 and 26 picks, it would be a risk to let Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert go in hopes of landing Love later.
  • The NFL’s decisions on Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith are not expected to come until after the draft, but the Cowboys may have some different plans for them under DC Mike Nolan than they would have under Rod Marinelli. Instead of using their edge defenders as pure 4-3 defensive ends, Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said (via USA Today’s Jori Epstein) he could envision Smith and Gregory as hybrid-type players who rush from linebacker positions as well as defensive end slots. Gregory has only played defensive end as a pro, while Smith has mostly worked as a 3-4 outside linebacker.