Jordan Love

QB Rumors: Packers, Carr, Burrow, Colts

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is expected to play in 2023, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (video link). Fowler cites the ~$60MM balloon payment that Rodgers is due between March and the start of the 2023 regular season as a motivating factor for the four-time MVP, and assuming he does want to suit up, Green Bay will have to decide if it wants him back or wants to seek a trade.

The club’s top power brokers, GM Brian Gutekunst and HC Matt LaFleur, have publicly indicated they want Rodgers back in Wisconsin, which could — in Fowler’s estimation — force Jordan Love to request a trade. The 2020 first-rounder believes he is ready to become a QB1, and as he is entering the final year of his rookie deal, now would be a good time for him to get that chance.

Here are more QB rumors from around the league:

  • In the same piece linked above, Fowler says that the Derek Carr sweepstakes will start to heat up as we get closer to the Super Bowl. Carr, whose contract with the Raiders includes a no-trade clause, is beginning to do his homework on possible landing spots, and Fowler hears (unsurprisingly) that the Jets, Saints, and Commanders are expected to have interest. Several clubs have already reached out to Las Vegas to lay the groundwork for trade talks.
  • Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will be eligible for an extension when Cincinnati’s season comes to an end, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that the club wants to get a new deal done this offseason. A Burrow extension will be hugely expensive, and owner Mike Brown and Burrow himself acknowledged the challenges that such a deal creates for roster construction (via Ben Baby of ESPN.com). Of course, the Bengals will have to operate within the same salary cap confines as every other team in the league, but as Rapoport observes, the small-market franchise does have more cash on hand these days thanks in large part to the success that the team has enjoyed with Burrow under center.
  • In a comprehensive piece that is well-worth a read for Colts fans, a piece that details owner Jim Irsay‘s increasingly impulsive decision-making and the ensuing fallout, Zak Keefer of The Athletic (subscription required) says that Irsay wanted to draft and develop a rookie QB in the 2021 draft. However, then-head coach Frank Reich convinced Irsay that he could resuscitate Carson Wentz‘s career. When that experiment went awry, Irsay began to lose faith in Reich, who apologized to his boss for his misstep. The team again opted for an established passer last offseason when it engineered the Matt Ryan trade, and in light of that failure, Adam Jahns of The Athletic (subscription required) believes Indianapolis is finally going to eschew the veteran QB route. The Colts, armed with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 draft, are in prime position to select a top collegiate signal-caller and could trade up to land the player of their choice.
  • Dolphins GM Chris Grier recently confirmed reports that Tua Tagovailoa will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2023, as Daniel Oyefusi of the Miami Herald writes. Grier says the medical professionals he has consulted have told him that the concussions Tagovailoa suffered this season will not make him more prone to concussions going forward. He also said “everything’s on the table for us” when asked if the team would exercise Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option for 2024 and/or engage in extension talks.
  • The Jets may keep 2021 first-rounder Zach Wilson on the roster in 2023, but the team is widely expected to pursue a veteran like Carr or Rodgers to upgrade the quarterback position. Apparently, that will be a welcome development for some of Wilson’s teammates and coaches, who “rejoiced” when Wilson was benched in favor of Mike White in November and who were disappointed when Wilson was reinserted into the lineup following White’s rib injuries (via Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic (subscription required)). Regardless of whether Wilson’s apologies to his teammates in the wake of his failure to accept much blame for his poor performance in New York’s Week 11 loss to the Patriots helped him regain the respect of the locker room, the consensus seems to be that he is not the passer who will guide the Jets back to the playoffs.

Packers GM Addresses QB Situation

Delivering an earlier-than-usual autopsy of the Packers’ season, Brian Gutekunst addressed what has already become a third straight offseason of Aaron Rodgers-driven uncertainty.

The sixth-year Packers GM said Jordan Love is “definitely” ready to play, indicating (via The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman, on Twitter) the three-year backup is “chomping at the bit” to become the team’s starter. When asked which quarterback would give the Packers the best chance to win next season, Gutekunst deferred to Rodgers’ four MVP honors.

[RELATED: Matt LaFleur Wants Rodgers Back In 2023]

Once the object of Rodgers ire, Gutekunst earned his way back into the future Hall of Famer’s good graces to close out a turbulent 2021. Rodgers ended up signing a three-year, $150.8MM extension in March 2022. That record-setting contract does give the Packers some flexibility, allowing a $58MM bonus to be paid at any point in 2023. That opens the door for a trade, and Rodgers said last week his Green Bay future may not be entirely up to him. Rodgers, 39, looks to also be considering retirement.

Gutekunst did not entertain the prospect of a Rodgers trade when asked about it Friday and said he can see a scenario in which Rodgers and Love are on the roster together for a fourth season, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein tweets. The Packers have received criticism for using a first-round pick on Love and sitting him for three seasons, effectively squandering the rookie-contract resource that has been so valuable to teams who have taken first-round QBs since the 2011 CBA reshaped rookie deals. The Packers must decide on Love’s fully guaranteed fifth-year option in May.

Love is on Green Bay’s payroll at $3.94MM for 2023; Rodgers would check in with a $31.62MM cap number. Unless the Packers trade Rodgers or he retires, the team could conceivably run back a Rodgers-Love depth chart for a fourth straight year. Given how far the team has pushed the Love apprenticeship, it would make sense to — NFL norms be damned — extend that into 2023. But the Packers’ QB depth chart is not yet certain. Gutekunst said (via Silverstein, on Twitter) he wants both players back and that Rodgers will take his time and regularly communicate with the team.

Rodgers fell off the MVP perch this season, with the Packers’ controversial strategy at wide receiver impacting the superstar QB’s performance. Gutekunst said as much Friday, indicating (via Silverstein) the Davante Adams trade played a role in Rodgers’ numbers dipping in 2022. Thumb and rib injuries plagued Rodgers this season as well, leading to Love making an intriguing cameo in Philadelphia. The Packers staying in the NFC wild-card race kept Love on the bench. QBR was particularly harsh on Rodgers, dropping him from first (in 2021) to 26th. Trade interest would undoubtedly come, were the Packers to consider it this time around. They resisted Broncos interest in 2021, and Rodgers decided to stay in Green Bay via the extension last year.

Regardless of Rodgers’ status, Gutekunst said restructures are a near-certainty. Early projections have the Packers at $13MM over the 2023 cap, though the 2023 salary ceiling has not yet been finalized. Gutekunst expects both Aaron Jones and David Bakhtiari to return next season as well (Twitter links via Schenidman and ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky).

Jones’ cap number balloons to $5.9MM to $20MM next season; a restructure would knock that down while adding to future cap figures. Bakhtiari’s cap figure will spike from $13.4MM to $29.1MM. While the All-Pro left tackle returned to action this season, the knee trouble that shelved him in 2021 limited him to 11 games this season. Bakhtiari, who has missed 30 games since the 2020 season (counting playoff tilts), said recently he does not intend to retire.

Aaron Rodgers To Remain Packers’ Starter If Healthy

12:55pm: When making his weekly appearance on The Pat McAfee Show today, Rodgers provided further detail on his injury, while adding that his scans yielded encouraging results (video link). As a result, he intends to play on Sunday against the Bears.

11:50am: Not much, if anything, has gone according to plan in 2022 for the Packers, and the team is now at something of a crossroads with respect to their quarterback situation. Aaron Rodgers is dealing with multiple injuries at the moment, leaving his availability for the immediate future in the air.

The 38-year-old exited Sunday night’s loss to the Eagles with a rib injury, and did not return. That, in turn, came not long after Rodgers publicly acknowledged that he had already been dealing with a broken thumb in his throwing hand for weeks – something he stated would not be sufficient to keep him from playing.

This latest ailment is one that the reigning MVP is likewise aiming to play through, so long as he can recover in time to suit up on Sunday against the Bears. Green Bay sits at 4-8 and therefore faces very long odds to reach the postseason, leading to questions about the fruitfulness of keeping Rodgers in the No. 1 spot at the expense of an extended run with backup Jordan Love. Head coach Matt LaFleur remains committed to the veteran at this point, however.

“Aaron’s the starting quarterback,” LaFleur said, via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky“He’s battled through a lot throughout the course of his career. It’s pretty well documented, and I think he’s been able to play at a pretty high level through a lot of different situations. So again, we’ll take it one game at a time and make the best decision moving forward.”

Love, drafted in the first round in 2020 to one day succeed Rodgers, has started just one game to date. His level of play in relief of Rodgers on Sunday was impressive, and has led to many calls for a QB swap as the Packers play out the remainder of the season. Looming over this situation from a big-picture perspective is the relative uncertainty surrounding Rodgers’ retirement plans, in spite of significant term and money remaining on his deal beyond 2022.

The Packers will have their bye week following the Bears game, something which could play a large role in determining their Week 13 starter. LaFleur (who, when speaking to the media, also doubled down on his support of maligned defensive coordinator Joe Barry) acknowledged that testing on Rodgers’ injury was still somewhat inconclusive, but added that “he’s feeling a little bit better.” So long as he continues to recover, the matter of who will start under center moving forward will likely be resolved.

Packers Likely To Carry Two QBs In 2022

The quarterback position has been subject to plenty of scrutiny in recent years in Green Bay, including this past offseason amidst the Aaron Rodgers contract saga. Things are likely to look very similar at the position to last season on the depth chart, as well as the Packers’ 53-man roster in 2022, though. 

The team faced a number of salary cap challenges entering the new league year, with a new contract for Rodgers at the top of their priority list. The two-time reigning MVP ultimately landed a four-year extension, making him the league’s highest-paid player. There are questions about his chances of playing out the entirety of that contract, though, with Rodgers himself acknowledging that he is essentially set to play on a year-to-year basis moving forward.

“Of course you think about the next chapter and what’s next in your life all the time,” the 38-year-old recently said, via Matt Schneidman of The Athletic (subscription required). “It doesn’t mean you’re not fully invested. When I said I’m back, I’m 100 percent invested… I’m here, I’m all-in, and [the coaching staff] know[s] that. They know what to expect from me… and that’s what they’re going to get.”

Rodgers’ backup will, of course, once again be Jordan Love. The 2020 first-rounder has yet to see an extended run of action to show the Packers he can take over the starting role, though the team has shown a commitment to keep him for at least the near future. In his rookie season, Green Bay carried Rodgers, Love and former UDFA Tim Boyle on the active roster, knowing Love wouldn’t clear waivers to safely reach the practice squad.

That changed last year, when the team carried just two signal-callers, electing to keep Kurt Benkert on the taxi squad. He was cut last month, though, making former seventh-rounder Danny Etling the only other QB on the roster right now. As Schneidman writes, the Packers are likely to take a “similar route” to 2021, with only Rodgers and Love making the team out of training camp, leaving Etling (or another addition) in line for the practice squad. That set-up could give the team the opportunity to get more clarity about both of their top QB’s futures, as they look to remain in Super Bowl contention in 2022.

Packers Unlikely To Take Trade Calls On Jordan Love

A big day of Packers developments continues. The team still has not heard from Aaron Rodgers on his 2022 preference, though GM Brian Gutekunst set the stage for an interesting situation by indicating he did not necessarily agree to trade Rodgers if the MVP requested it.

All this leaves Jordan Love staring at two disparate paths. The 2020 first-round pick could enter the season as Green Bay’s starter, or he could become an afterthought if Rodgers signs another Packers extension. In the event Rodgers returns, Gutekunst plans to hang onto Love. The fifth-year GM said Wednesday it is “very doubtful” he would take trade calls on his current backup, via The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman (on Twitter).

I think obviously during an NFL season, it’s tough as a backup quarterback, with the way we do things nowadays, to develop,” Gutekunst said, via Schneidman (subscription required). “But at the same time, I thought he made some really good strides. I’m really excited to see where he goes from here.”

It obviously makes sense for the Packers to sit tight at present, given Rodgers’ murky status. And Love’s value has taken a bit of a hit since the Packers traded up to draft him two years ago. Although Love received the first-team reps during the Packers’ offseason program, he did not play well in his surprise start against the Chiefs. That said, this quarterback draft is not viewed especially high regard, and the QB trade market may not be robust — depending on how certain teams act in the coming weeks. Love could be intriguing to a team that does not land one of the top options coming out of free agency.

A third option exists of Rodgers coming back for one more year and walking in free agency in 2023. That certainly would make additional Love development valuable. However, if Rodgers signs an extension, which the Packers are prepared to authorize, it would make sense for the team to listen on Love.

Green Bay is in uncharted territory regarding a first-round quarterback. Since the 2011 CBA introduced the revamped rookie wage scale, no team has kept a first-round QB as its primary backup for two full seasons. Of course, the Packers stood as an outlier during the 2000s as well by sitting Rodgers for three years behind Brett Favre. A Rodgers extension, however, opens the door to Love sitting throughout his rookie deal. There is no modern comp for that. The team’s fifth-year option call on Love is due in May 2023.

Minor NFL Transactions:  12/15/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: LB A.J. Klein

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Latest On Packers’ Quarterback Situation

With the months-old Packers-Aaron Rodgers stalemate looking set to drag into training camp, the team is in a holding pattern at quarterback. The longer this goes, the more relevant Jordan Love‘s readiness becomes.

Coming into the offseason, the Packers’ confidence appeared low in the 2020 first-round pick being prepared to make starts this season. That view seems to have changed, to some degree. Love made progress after handling a busy workload this offseason, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, with the second-year passer making particular strides with his footwork.

The Utah State alum took approximately 90% of the reps in the Packers’ offseason team drills, per Breer. GM Brian Gutekunst indicated the Packers planned to flood their highly drafted backup with work this year, after the COVID-19 pandemic nixed the 2020 offseason program and Love spent the season as Green Bay’s third-string quarterback.

The Packers’ signings of Blake Bortles, Kurt Benkert and Jacob Dolegala do not appear to have affected Love’s reps this offseason. The younger additions stand to serve as training camp arms — in the likely event Rodgers does not show next month — while Bortles would make sense as insurance if Love will not be ready to go in Week 1. For his part, Love expectedly expressed confidence he would be ready to make a Week 1 start.

It goes without saying the Packers want Rodgers to be their starter this season. That happening after Love went through a QB1 offseason would be a bonus for the Packers, for short- and long-term purposes, but nothing has emerged indicating Rodgers will suit up for the team again. If this scenario were to take place, with Rodgers starting every game for the 2021 Green Bay edition, Love would become the first Round 1 quarterback since Rodgers to spend his first two full NFL seasons on the bench. Beyond Rodgers, Brady Quinn‘s three starts from 2007-08 serve as the current basement for a first-round QB through two years in that span.

Jordan Love: I’ve Spoken To Aaron Rodgers, Ready To Start Week 1

The big story of this NFL offseason has been the Aaron Rodgers drama in Green Bay. Depending on how things shake out, the Jordan Love Packers era could start in as early as a few months.

There have been reports that team brass didn’t think Love was particularly close to being ready to start last year, but the Utah State product sounds confident heading into 2021. “A hundred percent,” Love said when asked if he’ll be ready to start come Week 1, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

Obviously, this is a time where I’m getting a lot of extremely valuable reps that I might not have been getting in a normal circumstance. So I’m just going to take it day by day. … But yeah, that’s what I’m here for. I was drafted here to play quarterback, so I’ll definitely be ready Week 1.

Love, of course, was referring to Rodgers’ holdout from the team’s mandatory minicamp. The 26th pick of last year’s draft also interestingly revealed that he’s stayed in touch with Rodgers this offseason. In fact, Demovsky reports that Love said he spoke with Rodgers shortly before arriving in Green Bay for OTAs.

A lot of Rodgers’ beef with the Packers reportedly stems from the process of selecting Love, which he wasn’t in the loop for, but he apparently hasn’t let that effect his relationship with his young potential successor.

Demovsky writes that Love has been hot and cold so far, struggling one day then having stretches of brilliance the next. Despite being in contact Love said he has no idea what Rodgers is going to do, and that he was “surprised” he elected to skip minicamp.

Despite getting drafted in 2020, Love won’t turn 23 until November. At this point, it seems like there’s a good chance he’s thrown into the fire before then.

Packers To Insist On QB As Part Of Aaron Rodgers Trade?

As of the time of this writing, the Packers have given no public indication that they are planning to capitulate to Aaron Rodgers‘ trade demands. Given the state of the relationship between Rodgers and the team, however, Green Bay brass has certainly had internal conversations about what such a seismic trade would entail.

The Broncos have been the club most closely connected to a Rodgers trade, and early speculation has suggested that Denver (or any team for that matter) would need to part with at least two first-round choices, a second-rounder, and perhaps a quality player. As Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, the Packers will also require their trading partner to send a QB back to Green Bay.

After all, Rodgers’ new club can reasonably be expected to make a postseason run with the three-time MVP under center, so any draft picks that the Packers acquire would presumably come at the end of a given round. And rumor has it that Green Bay does not believe 2020 first-rounder Jordan Love is ready to become the full-time starter just yet, so it makes sense that the club would insist on having another signal-caller be part of a trade package.

On the other hand, there aren’t many teams that are in a position to trade for Rodgers but that also have a quarterback that Green Bay would consider a worthy replacement for the face of its franchise. The 49ers were an obvious fit before they drafted Trey Lance, and while San Francisco could perhaps be persuaded to deal Jimmy Garoppolo in a separate trade with Green Bay, or as part of a three-team swap, the Niners are now out of the Rodgers sweepstakes.

The Raiders are on Rodgers’ list of preferred destinations, and Las Vegas signal-caller Derek Carr is a quality player who is under contract at a reasonable rate through 2022. Since the Raiders play in the AFC, it seems the foundation for a trade is there, but a Rodgers-Jon Gruden marriage is presently considered unlikely.

The Broncos, meanwhile, are rostering Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater, neither of whom appear capable of leading the Packers to a championship. So even though Denver has the cap space and desire to make a Rodgers deal work, it’s unclear if Green Bay considers the Broncos a viable partner.

Per Silverstein, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has indicated he will work with Love as though he will be the starter for now, but LaFleur didn’t exactly offer a ringing endorsement of the Utah State product, and he recently indicated he wants Rodgers back “in the worst way.”

Broncos To Aggressively Pursue Aaron Rodgers?

Speculation that the Broncos could push to acquire Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers began to swirl in advance of last week’s draft, though Ian Rapoport of NFL.com indicated that such chatter was overblown. However, subsequent reports suggested that a Rodgers-to-Denver deal could still happen, and those rumors are not going away.

The feeling around the league is that Rodgers will not return to the Packers, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini (video link). Russini adds that Packers brass is “deflated” about the direction this is heading. The team has continued to try and put a good face on the situation and insists that Rodgers will be back in Green Bay in 2021, but that feels like a dubious proposition at this point. And if the Packers ultimately cave and deal the three-time MVP, Russini hears that the Broncos will be the most interested and will present Green Bay with the strongest offer.

Although the Broncos recently acquired Teddy Bridgewater in a trade with the Panthers and are rostering 2019 second-rounder Drew Lock, it’s hard to imagine either player piloting a championship club. The rest of the roster, though, looks strong, and adding Rodgers would immediately make Denver a threat to win the AFC, just like Peyton Manning did nine years ago. So it’s easy to envision GM George Paton doing everything in his power to make that happen.

One way or another, Russini confirms that if a trade is consummated, it will not take place until after June 1, due to the salary cap ramifications. Of course, in addition to those cap concerns and negotiating the best possible deal with the Broncos or any other club, the Packers must also consider their own on-field product. After all, they came devastatingly close to winning the NFC last year, and they will return much of that successful roster in 2021. So will the team be comfortable passing the baton to Jordan Love, the 2020 first-rounder who is at the epicenter of the Rodgers-Packers rift?

Maybe not. Albert Breer of SI.com gets the sense that Green Bay does not necessarily believe Love — who was always considered a developmental prospect — is ready to take the reins. It’s unlikely that there will be any starting-caliber QB options on the free agent or trade markets, so assuming Love is truly not prepared, the Packers will really be in a bind if they can’t mend fences with Rodgers.

In addition to the Love issue, there are other factors contributing to this Spring of Rodgers’ Discontent, one of which is rather surprising. Rapoport says that the “death knell” of the relationship was when the team cut WR Jake Kumerow last September, right after Rodgers publicly referred to him as one of the team’s most reliable receivers (video link). Though Kumerow became something of a cult hero during his time in Green Bay, it would be odd for his release to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, but such is the enigma of Rodgers. For what it’s worth, Kumerow ultimately appeared in six games in 2020, all with the Bills. He recorded one catch for 22 yards.

Rapoport also confirms that Rodgers was hoping for an extension that would cement his status as the Packers’ starter until he chooses to retire, and that he wants a say in personnel decisions. Veteran NFL reporter John Clayton says that the team’s overall approach to the wide receiver position (and not just Kumerow’s apparently calamitous release) has also played a major role in the impasse. Although GM Brian Gutekunst has only been the team’s top decision-maker since 2018, Green Bay’s first choice in each of the last 10 drafts was used on a defensive player, and Rodgers’ frustration has reached the breaking point.

Former NFL agent Joel Corry offers a two-pronged approach by which the Packers might placate Rodgers. The first step, Corry says, would be trading Love, and the second would be giving Rodgers the extension he wants. Rodgers has three years remaining on his current contract, and while it’s exceedingly rare for a team to authorize an extension for a player who is still under club control for three seasons, the Cardinals did provide a blueprint for such a maneuver when they extended DeAndre Hopkins last year.

As Corry notes, Rodgers will want to top Patrick Mahomes‘ record $45MM AAV, and that would mean adding $90MM of new money over a five-year term (the three years on his current deal plus a two-year extension). Ultimately, though, Corry doesn’t believe the Packers will go that route, because he does not believe the team wants to deviate from its original plan of having Love succeed Rodgers when the time is right. Unfortunately for Green Bay, Rodgers might be forcing the team to throw Love into the fire before he’s ready.