Jordan Love

Packers Begin Jordan Love Extension Talks

Last offseason, the Packers replaced Jordan Love‘s fifth-year option with a one-year extension. No new pact can be agreed upon until at least May 4, but talks on that front have begun.

With Aaron Rodgers out of the picture, Green Bay made a short-term commitment to Love as the team’s 2024 starter. The $22.5MM pact the latter inked included escalators and bonuses as he helped guide the Packers to the second round of the postseason. Love is due $11MM in 2024 on his current contract, which is set to carry a cap hit of $12.76MM. A long-term accord will check in at a much higher rate.

A January report stated the Packers would explore an extension in the offseason, with general manager Brian Gutekunst having seen enough of the former first-rounder to commit to him as Green Bay’s long-term answer under center. When speaking at the league meetings, Gutekunst confirmed negotiations on a Love pact have indeed started. Nothing is imminent at this time, though.

“There’s been some, obviously, preliminary discussions,” Gutekunst said on Monday (video link via Ryan Woods of Packers News). “But we want to do it the right way. And certainly the sooner the better, but at the same time, we want to make sure we do it the right way. So, it’s started. But it’s not something that’s going to go quickly, I don’t think.”

NFL contracts cannot be extended twice within a 12-month span, so any new Love deal will not become official for at least six weeks. Still, it is of course noteworthy the sides have begun talks on a new agreement. The sides are in a unique situation with Love having made only one start in his first three NFL seasons. The 25-year-old had a less-than-stellar beginning to his first campaign as a starter, but down the stretch and into the postseason his play improved.

As a result, he is in line for a steep raise compared to his current deal. 12 quarterbacks currently average at least $40MM per season, and with the salary cap expected to continue rising at a notable rate that number will no doubt increase in the coming years. Love has much less experience in a No. 1 role than the veterans at the top of the market, but a number of relatively young passers have secured monster second contracts in recent years. If Love is to become the next in line, an agreement could be within reach relatively soon depending on the progress of negotiations.

Packers, Jordan Love To Pursue Offseason Extension

Owing in large part to the improved play of their offense down the stretch, the Packers advanced to the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. Green Bay’s run to the postseason despite being the youngest team in the NFL was sparked by the performance of quarterback Jordan Love, who has shown significant signs of improvement during his first year as a starter.

Both general manager Brian Gutekunst and president Mark Murphy have publicly offered encouragement for the former first-rounder while maintaining that a full campaign would be needed for the team to truly evaluate his status as a passer worth building around. Love – and the Packers’ offense as a whole – endured growing pains early in the year, and turnovers became an issue for him. However, he compiled a highly impressive 18:1 touchdown-to interception ratio over the final eight games of the season.

That success has already earned the 25-year-old considerable bonuses given the incentives in his contract. That pact – a one-year, $22.5MM extension signed in May which took the place of his fifth-year option – included $13.5MM guaranteed. The latter figure represents a bargain given the current market for high-end starting QBs, but Love has cashed in on numerous escalators. As detailed by ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the Utah State alum earned a number of bonuses for performance as well as leading the Packers to the postseason. He could see another $500K with a win over the Cowboys today.

Given his impressive showing late in the year, Love (who has boosted his 2023 earnings by $4.5MM so far) has likely done enough to land a more permanent stay in Green Bay. Indeed, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports he and the Packers will speak about an extension this spring (video link). Love is due $6MM next year, but a multi-year pact ensuring he remains with the franchise for the foreseeable future would of course check in at a much larger price tag. Contracts cannot be extended twice within a 12-month span, however, so no new agreement can be finalized until at least May 4.

The Demovsky piece details the unique nature of this situation, with Love having essentially redshirted his first three seasons in the NFL. The Aaron Rodgers successor is thus a challenging case with respect to working out an appropriate long-term contract. Three sources Demovsky cites project a range in AAV from $30MM on the low end to upwards of $50MM on the high end. It would come as little surprise if a contract fell somewhere in between those extremes, but questions will obviously linger about a lack of sample size.

Young passers like the quartet who each eclipsed the $50MM-per-year mark on their respective deals this offseason (Jalen Hurts, Lamar JacksonJustin HerbertJoe Burrow) each had more time as a starter than Love has so far. The latter has nevertheless likely done enough to price himself above other, less heralded starters, and he has proven to have chemistry with the Packers’ group of highly inexperienced pass catchers; keeping that nucleus intact for years to come would represent a logical priority for the front office.

Regardless of how the postseason shapes out for Green Bay, the status of Love’s long-term financial future will be a major storyline during the offseason. With a lengthy period in place between the end of the season and the point at which a new contract can be signed, both team and player will have a long runway to negotiate terms on what could be a sizeable raise.

Packers President Addresses Jordan Love’s Status

Although Aaron Rodgers famously needed to wait until his fourth season to become an NFL starter, the Packers had seen enough from the future Hall of Famer midway through that 2008 season to hand out an extension.

The Packers and Rodgers agreed on what became a wildly team-friendly deal on Oct. 31, 2008 — six years, $63.52MM — to set up the ascending quarterback entering his early prime. The Packers did not revisit the deal until the 2013 offseason, when Rodgers inked a five-year, $110MM pact. The initial extension holds a distinction as one of the better contracts a team has hammered out this century.

Before Week 1, Packers president Mark Murphy said it would likely take at least a half-season to begin to pinpoint Jordan Love‘s trajectory. The longtime Packers exec has since moved the goal posts a bit since those comments and followed GM Brian Gutekunst by indicating how pivotal this season’s second half will be to the franchise’s evaluation.

It wouldn’t be fair to judge Jordan now since there are so many other factors that have contributed to the offense’s poor performance (e.g., dropped passes, penalties, mental errors),” Murphy said in a question-and-answer piece on “We should have a much better sense regarding Jordan at the end of the season.

Young players often take time to find consistency, but we still very much believe in Jordan and are excited to see his continued development.

Murphy also cited the experience around Rodgers when he took over, referencing receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings along with tackle Chad Clifton and running back Ryan Grant. While Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon represent experience, with the former residing as one of the better Packers skill-position players this century, this Green Bay edition lost David Bakhtiari for the season and played a stretch without Elgton Jenkins. The team also bid farewell to experienced wideouts Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb this offseason, seeing both team up with Rodgers with the Jets. The Packers’ receiving corps consists entirely of first- and second-year players, with rookies Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft comprising the team’s top tight end duo. The inexperience issue came up multiple times this offseason, but the Packers refrained from adding a veteran to help the young group during Love’s first starter season.

Although Murphy reminded the Packers had seen enough from Rodgers to extend that extension offer by this point in his first starter season, the veteran exec praised Love’s makeup and leadership qualities. Through eight games, the fourth-year passer has not impressed. Love ranks 25th in passer rating, 22nd in QBR, 25th in yards per attempt and last (among qualified passers) in completion percentage (59.6). An accurate outing against the Rams brought Love’s completion rate to that point, and the Packers are coming off a 20-3 win.

An organization expecting to strike gold on a third consecutive passer is obviously a longer-odds proposition. The Packers’ 1992 Brett Favre trade and 2005 Rodgers draft choice set them up like no team before it, at least in terms of duration. The team’s decision to trade up for Love in 2020 generated scrutiny, and with the move coming without Gutekunst notifying Rodgers, that selection led to the parties’ relationship fracturing. By not taking a player capable of helping immediately, the Packers also punted on the chance to strengthen a team that had ventured to the prior year’s NFC championship game.

Gutekunst certainly took a risk by trading up for Love, who led Division I-FBS in interceptions in 2019. The Packers will give the Utah State alum more time. In lieu of picking up Love’s fully guaranteed 2024 option, the Packers gave Rodgers’ successor a two-year deal worth $13.5MM. Escalators exist within the deal, but Love is currently tied to a $5.5MM base salary and $7.76MM cap number for 2024. That is a favorable rate for a starting quarterback beyond his four-year rookie deal, but Love still has plenty to prove in order to command another Packers extension.

Latest On Packers, QB Jordan Love

In the midst of a four-game losing streak, the Packers’ struggles have led to renewed questions about Jordan Love‘s status as the team’s projected long-term starting quarterback. Head coach Matt LaFleur endorsed the former first-rounder last week, but general manager Brian Gutekunst has since struck a different tone.

Love got off to an encouraging start in 2023, his first season at the helm and thus the beginning of his audition period as Aaron Rodgers‘ successor. The 25-year-old has taken a step back statistically in recent weeks, however, throwing at least one interception in each of the past five games (and eight total during that span). Love sits last in the NFL in completion percentage (57.7%), a sign of his growing pains but also those of Green Bay’s offense as a whole.

“I think he’s done a lot of really good things,” Gutekunst said of Love, via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky“Really like the way he’s responded to the adversity, how he’s led the team. Again, we’ve got to be better as a unit, and I expect that to happen over the next 10 games. And I think that we’re going through some things that we knew we would go through. We haven’t had the results that we want, but I do like the way guys are responding to things.”

Gutekunst added that the final 10 games of the Packers’ season will be “very important” as it pertains to the organization’s evaluation of Love. The Utah State product signed an extension which took the place of his fifth-year option this offseason, a pact which has him on the books through 2024. Improvement will be needed to quell doubts on the team’s part that another option under center should be sought out, although it comes as little surprise that Green Bay’s highly inexperienced offense has encountered issues in the first half of the campaign.

“When the group as a whole is not functioning the way it should function, then it’s hard to evaluate anybody,” Gutekunst added. “At the same time, it’s on us to get that right so we can move forward and evaluate the guys we have in that room. But yeah, when we’re not clicking, it’s tough to evaluate anything.”

Plenty of attention will be on Love in particular to close out the season as the 2-5 Packers aim for signs of growth over the second half of the campaign. Green Bay elected not to add a veteran presence at this week’s trade deadline, with the team’s only move being the one which sent corner Rasul Douglas to the Bills. While Gutekunst expressed confidence the Packers’ young offense nucleus will take a step forward, his remarks make it clear progress will be necessary in the near future on Love’s part for the organization to feel comfortable about a long-term commitment.

Aaron Rodgers Addresses Packers Exit

Aaron Rodgers‘ Green Bay departure would have been far messier had it occurred in 2021, when he requested to be moved. But the divorce, coming after a prolonged trade negotiation, has still produced a stream of headlines. The new Jets quarterback attempted to set the record straight regarding a few key 2020s Packers plotlines.

Shortly after the Packers traded up for Jordan Love in 2020, Rodgers said he no longer knew finishing his career in Green Bay was realistic. Before the 2021 trade request, Rodgers earned his third MVP honor despite the Packers using their first-round pick on a backup quarterback. While the Love choice did not directly impede Green Bay in 2020, the team suffered another narrow NFC championship defeat — at home against Tampa Bay — as its first-round pick did not contribute. That loss began an annual run of Rodgers-driven offseason uncertainty in Green Bay.

Did I wanna, years down the line, go, ‘Well, what if we had just taken somebody who could impact our team because we had just gone to the NFC championship?’ Yeah, of course,” Rodgers said (via The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman; subscription required) of the Packers’ decision to draft Love. “I don’t think any other competitor would say anything different.

… We didn’t win the Super Bowl. [The Packers] had their guy in waiting. I knew that [the team going with Love] was always a possibility, that they would wanna go, ‘You know what? We tried hard. We tried to win a championship. We had a good team, but now it might be time to go with Jordan, move some contract stuff around and do that.'”

The organization made that decision two years after Rodgers requested a trade. The Packers could have obtained more for Rodgers in 2021, given his age and MVP form, but they rebuffed trade overtures during that offseason. Rodgers’ agent is believed to have made a blunt request to Packers president Mark Murphy at that time: trade Rodgers or fire GM Brian Gutekunst. The Rodgers-Gutekunst feud simmered throughout the ’21 offseason, and this ultimatum surfaced that summer. Wednesday’s report lends more support to the Rodgers-or-Gutekunst rumors. The 18-year veteran told Schneidman communication between he and Green Bay management improved once he returned to the team, but it still pales in comparison to the talks he has held with Jets management in the weeks since he arrived.

Although Rodgers re-signed with the Packers — on a three-year, $150.8MM deal the Jets are now in the process of restructuring — in March 2022, team brass has revealed dissatisfaction with the future Hall of Famer’s commitment level last year. The Packers viewed Rodgers skipping OTAs last year as detrimental to Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs‘ rookie-year development, Albert Breer of notes, and Schneidman adds the team was dissatisfied with Rodgers’ day-to-day commitment throughout last season. The four-time MVP, who has been at Jets OTAs this offseason, disputed the notion his 2022 absence hindered the Packers.

When I’m in, I’m all in, and you wanna ride with offseason workouts?” Rodgers said. “I won MVP without doing offseason workouts. Like, was my commitment any less then? I’d say not at all. The way that I come back to work, not just physically in good shape but mentally refreshed, is the best thing for me to have the season I wanted to have during those in Green Bay. I think that’s just a cop-out written to try and find something to disparage me about that, honestly, when you know what offseason workouts are really about, it’s completely ridiculous.”

The key difference between Rodgers’ 2021 OTAs absence and his 2022 no-show: receiving talent. Green Bay dealt Davante Adams to Las Vegas and let Marquez Valdes-Scantling leave for Kansas City in free agency last March. Adams has said the Packers’ final offer surpassed the Raiders’ deal (five years, $140MM) and that he wanted to leave Green Bay. But the sides also went through failed negotiations during the 2021 offseason. Adams sought to be the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver during the summer ’21 talks; Rodgers said the Packers’ initial offer was nowhere close, indicating it checked in below $20MM per year.

Adams broke off talks with the Packers ahead of last season and played out the $14.5MM-per-year extension he had signed in 2017. Although the Packers upped their offer before franchise-tagging him in 2022, Rodgers wonders if the team’s early hesitancy affected the All-Pro wideout’s desire to stay.

They offered him less money than Christian Kirk and [Adams] is going, ‘Are you serious right now? I’m the best receiver in the league, and you’re gonna offer me less than Christian Kirk?’” Rodgers said of the Pack’s offer compared to Kirk’s $18MM-AAV Jaguars deal. “With all due respect, he’s not on Davante’s level.

I’m sure that the team will say that’s just the business of negotiation — it’s like, yeah, but you’re also sending a message to that guy, and a lot of times it can stick with guys and make them a little sour on things. … That goes back to the first offer that they made, and I don’t think [the Packers] had the foresight — obviously didn’t have the foresight.

Rodgers’ numbers suffered without Adams and Valdes-Scantling, with Doubs and Watson — the latter’s late-season surge notwithstanding — not measuring up to the veterans’ contributions. Gutekunst deferred to Rodgers’ MVP awards when asked in January if the veteran starter or Love gave the Packers a better chance to win. Three-plus months later, Rodgers became a Jet. Gutekunst did not believe he could sit Love for a fourth season, per’s Rob Demovsky and Rich Cimini; the sixth-year GM had said many times this offseason the fourth-year backup was ready to play.

Gutekunst and Rodgers did not meet this offseason; scheduling conflicts have been cited. The Packers have also accused Rodgers of rebuffing efforts to meet, per Rodgers said he reached out to Packers management regarding a meeting with the front office and Matt LaFleur before he trekked to the darkness retreat, but after he referenced the Pack’s lack of communication, a desire to play for the Jets — rather than retire — emerged post-darkness. As Brett Favre did 15 years ago, Rodgers will now attempt to prove the Packers wrong.

Did Brian text me more than I texted him? Yeah, but did I ghost him? No,” Rodgers said, via Schneidman. “I texted him back. There was back-and-forths that we had and so this is the story you wanna go with? You’re gonna stand on this hill of austerity and say that arguably in the conversation of the best player in your franchise history, you’re gonna say I couldn’t get a hold of him and that’s why we had to move on?

Like, come on, man. Just tell the truth; you wanted to move on. You didn’t like the fact that we didn’t communicate all the time. Like, listen, I talk to the people that I like.”

Packers, QB Jordan Love Agree To Extension

MAY 3: We received a few details on Love’s new contract, thanks to ESPN’s Field Yates. The deal includes a $8.79MM signing bonus, helping him come into an extra $7.5MM of cash this year. His base salary will be less in 2023 ($1.01MM) than it was scheduled to be ($2.30MM), but the deal has escalators in 2023 that could add a potential additional $9MM to his base salary in 2024, which is currently valued at $5.5MM fully guaranteed. The escalators are tied to playing time, team wins, team stats, and more. He’ll also receive a $500K workout bonus in 2024.

MAY 2: Rather than picking up Jordan Love‘s fifth-year option today, the Packers have inked their new starting quarterback to a one-year extension keeping him in the fold through 2024, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link).

ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds (via Twitter) that the contract has a maximum value of $22.5MM, and includes $13.5MM fully guaranteed. Had Green Bay elected to simply pick up Love’s option, he would have been tied to a fully-guaranteed salary of $20.27MM next season, meaning this agreement could yield higher earnings for the unproven 24-year-old.

How the Packers planned to handle Love’s short-term financial future was a key storyline leading up to today’s deadline. Recent remarks from general manager Brian Gutekunst reflected the unique position the team found itself in regarding its commitment to a quarterback with only one regular season start in three NFL seasons. With this deal now in place, Love’s cap hits can be spread out evenly over the course of his two-year audition period.

That will become particularly important in 2024 if the Utah State product fails to live up to expectations and the team feels obliged to bring in veteran competition following his 2023 campaign. For now, though, Love can move forward with a greater degree of certainty regarding his future in Green Bay as he prepares to begin the task of succeeding Aaron Rodgers

The latter’s trade to the Jets officially paved the way for Love – whom the Packers traded up in the 2020 draft to select 26th overall – to take on the starting role. The team has remained consistent in their praise of him during the offseason, and he will have a number of additions around him on offense in 2023. Green Bay once again looked to the defensive side of the ball in the first round of the draft, but they also selected a pair of tight ends and three receivers to with the rookie pass-catchers brought in last year.

The Packers also exited the draft with a new quarterback in fifth-rounder Sean Clifford, but all eyes will be on Love this season as he faces about his ability to operate as a clear-cut starter. Regardless of how he fares, he will be in place for 2024 as well at a relatively reasonable cost.

2024 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 2 to officially pick up fifth-year options on 2020 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. The 2020 CBA revamped the option structure and made them fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, fifth-year option salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement and performance- and usage-based benchmarks:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the third-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • At least a 75% snap rate in two of their first three seasons
    • A 75% snap average across all three seasons
    • At least 50% in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will receive the average of the third-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

  1. QB Joe Burrow, Bengals ($29.5MM): Exercised
  2. DE Chase Young, Commanders ($17.45MM): Declined
  3. CB Jeff Okudah, Falcons* ($11.51MM): N/A
  4. T Andrew Thomas, Giants ($14.18MM): Exercised
  5. QB Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins ($23.2MM): Exercised
  6. QB Justin Herbert, Chargers ($29.5MM): Exercised
  7. DT Derrick Brown, Panthers ($11.67MM): Exercised 
  8. LB Isaiah Simmons, Cardinals ($12.72MM): Declined
  9. CB C.J. Henderson, Jaguars** ($11.51MM): Declined
  10. T Jedrick Wills, Browns ($14.18MM): Exercised
  11. T Mekhi Becton, Jets ($12.57MM): Declined
  12. WR Henry Ruggs, Raiders: N/A
  13. T Tristan Wirfs, Buccaneers ($18.24MM): Exercised
  14. DT Javon Kinlaw, 49ers ($10.46MM): Declined
  15. WR Jerry Jeudy, Broncos ($14.12MM): Exercised
  16. CB AJ Terrell, Falcons ($12.34MM): Exercised
  17. WR CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys ($17.99MM): Exercised
  18. OL Austin Jackson, Dolphins ($14.18MM): Declined
  19. CB Damon Arnette, Raiders: N/A
  20. DE K’Lavon Chaisson, Jaguars ($12.14MM): Declined
  21. WR Jalen Reagor, Vikings*** ($12.99MM): To decline
  22. WR Justin Jefferson, Vikings ($19.74MM): Exercised
  23. LB Kenneth Murray, Chargers ($11.73MM): Declined
  24. G Cesar Ruiz, Saints ($14.18MM): Declined
  25. WR Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers ($14.12MM): Exercised
  26. QB Jordan Love, Packers ($20.27MM): Extended through 2024
  27. LB Jordyn Brooks, Seahawks ($12.72MM): Declined
  28. LB Patrick Queen, Ravens ($12.72MM): Declined
  29. T Isaiah Wilson, Titans: N/A
  30. CB Noah Igbinoghene, Dolphins ($11.51MM): Declined
  31. CB Jeff Gladney, Vikings: N/A
  32. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs ($5.46MM): To decline

* = Lions traded Okudah on April 11, 2023
** = Jaguars traded Henderson on Sept. 27, 2021
*** = Eagles traded Reagor on August 31, 2022

Packers Undecided On QB Jordan Love’s Fifth-Year Option

Three of the four quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2020 draft have, to no surprise, had their fifth-year options picked up. The Packers are the only team yet to make their decision on that front, despite the fast-approaching deadline to do so.

Jordan Love is officially in place as Green Bay’s QB1, with the Aaron Rodgers trade having been finalized last week. His fifth-year option would cost $20.27MM next season if the team were to exercise it, a move which would represent at least a short-term commitment. Since the team has already made one by trading Rodgers, it would come as little surprise if they picked up Love’s option. A firm decision has yet to be made, however.

“Yeah, I’ve got to figure that out by Tuesday, I guess,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said on the subject of Love’s option. “We’re kind of still working through that. We’ve been so focused on the draft. We’ve had some preliminary conversations, but we’ll get to that before Tuesday. It’s a lot of money for a guy who hasn’t played. But at the same time, obviously, we’re moving forward with him. So, we’ll figure that out by Tuesday” (h/t Myles Simmons of Pro Football Talk).

Indeed, plenty of questions remain with respect to Love’s preparedness for an NFL starting job despite being three years removed from his rookie campaign. The 24-year-old has made 10 appearances, and only one start, during his time in Green Bay. The team has been consistent in their praise for the Utah State product, though, and a strong 2023 campaign could establish his worth as a legitimate starter.

If that were to happen, a price tag slightly over $20MM would be a relative bargain, considering the heights the QB market has reached in recent years. On the other hand, declining the option to turn this coming season into a make-or-break year for Love would make it easier to move on from him if he were to fail to progress in the way the team expects him to.

The Packers added a fifth-round quarterback during the draft, but also two tight ends and three receivers to give Love a plethora of new pass catchers for his first season at the helm. Before he begins that new phase of his career, though, more clarity will have emerged with respect to his financial future.

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst Addresses Aaron Rodgers Situation

The Packers have been entrenched in their drama with Aaron Rodgers for years now. With the end seemingly drawing nearer and nearer, general manager Brian Gutekunst gave some comments to the media today.

Primarily, Gutekunst confirmed what we all presumed, that he expects Jordan Love to take over as starting quarterback for the Packers in 2023. While he admitted that there were unknowns to be dealt with, mainly the pending trade deal shipping Rodgers to New York, everything is trending toward an offense centered around Love, according to Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Additionally, Gutekunst added that he is not necessitating a first-round pick in exchange for Rodgers. He stated that he wants a fair value for Rodgers, whom he called a “premier” player, but claimed that he isn’t drawing a line at the first round.

Gutekunst was also asked some hard-hitting questions from The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman about the team’s inability to communicate with Rodgers and Rodgers’ displeasure concerning the perception that the Packers were shopping him out, and Gutekunst didn’t shy away from the answers. Gutekunst basically asserted that they attempted to reach out after the season and, after they failed to reach him or get a response, Gutekunst “had to do (his) job.”

“Certainly, whenever a player may have issues, you prefer that they talk to you directly and not do it in the media,” Gutekunst said Monday, via Schneidman“But that’s not necessarily the way he goes about it and that’s okay.”

Gutekunst’s efforts to reach Rodgers were an attempt to discuss the future of the franchise and Rodgers’s part in it. After the season, though, he was only able to reach Rodgers’s representatives. After Gutekunst talked with the veteran’s representation, Rodgers asked for the trade, leading to the limbo that Green Bay is currently in. Most parties involved are going about their business as if Rodgers is a member of the Jets already. It’s only a matter of compensation at this point.

2023 Top 50 NFL Free Agents

Super Bowl LVII provided the latest example of the value free agency can bring. The Chiefs revamped their receiving corps on last year’s market, while the Eagles acquired three defensive starters — including sack leader Haason Reddick. The Jaguars also used a March 2022 splurge to ignite their surprising surge to the divisional round.

Beginning with the legal tampering period, which starts at 3pm CT on Monday, and continuing with the official start to free agency (3pm Wednesday), the next several days represent a highlight on the NFL calendar. Which teams will change their 2023 outlooks for the better next week?

While the 2023 free agent class has absorbed its share of body blows and indeed lacks depth at certain spots, a few positions will bring waves of starter-level talent. Right tackle will invite some big-money decisions, and the safety and off-ball linebacker positions feature considerable depth. A few ascending talents and hidden gems appear in this class as well.

This list ranks free agents by earning potential. In terms of accomplishments, Bobby Wagner, Fletcher Cox and Lavonte David would lap most of the players included here. With each defender going into his age-33 season, however, the standouts’ ability to command big contracts is certainly not what it once was.

In terms of possible destinations, not every team is represented equally. Some teams will bring more needs and cap space into this year’s marketplace than others. With some help from Adam La Rose, here is this year’s PFR top 50 free agents list, along with potential landing spots for each player.

1. Orlando Brown Jr., T. Age in Week 1: 27

As the 49ers did two years ago with Trent Williams, the Chiefs will let Brown hit the market. This could end up benefiting the veteran tackle, who was offered a deal with an average annual value north of Williams’ tackle-record $23MM per year before last July’s franchise tag deadline. Citing insufficient guarantees, Brown turned it down. Kansas City’s offer did contain a bloated final year to bump up the AAV to $23.1MM, but will Brown – a quality left tackle but not a top-shelf option at the position – do as well this year? He will soon find out.

Brown has now made four Pro Bowls and carries positional versatility that would intrigue were he open to a return to right tackle, which by all accounts he is not. The 363-pound blocker can struggle against speed-rusher types, but he is set to be the rare accomplished left tackle in his prime to hit the market. The Chiefs sent a package including a first-round pick to the Ravens for Brown, whose bet on himself led to a $16.6MM tag and an open market. The bidding will run high, though it might not reach the places the Williams pursuit did in 2021.

The Chiefs’ exclusive negotiating rights with Brown end March 13; they have had nearly two years to complete a deal. The market will determine if the league views the sixth-year blocker as an elite-level left tackle or merely a good one. Then again, bidding wars drive up the prices for O-linemen on the market. O-line salary records have fallen four times (Williams, Corey Linsley, Joe Thuney, Brandon Scherff) in free agency since 2021. This foray could give Brown the guaranteed money he seeks, and it puts the Chiefs at risk of seeing their two-year left tackle depart. The Ravens also passed on this payment back in 2021, in part because they already had Ronnie Stanley on the payroll.

The defending champions have Brown and right tackle Andrew Wylie eligible for free agency; some of their leftover funds from the Tyreek Hill trade went to Brown’s tag. Although some among the Chiefs were frustrated Brown passed on last year’s offer, the team will be hurting at a premium position if he walks. Given the importance the blindside position carries, fewer teams are in need compared to right tackle. The Titans losing Taylor Lewan and continuing to clear cap space could point to a run at Brown, though the team has a few needs up front. The Jets likely have needs at both tackle spots. Would the Bears relocate Braxton Jones to the right side? Ryan Poles was with the Chiefs when they traded for Brown, and the Bears could outmuscle anyone for cap space.

Best fits: Titans, Chiefs, Commanders

2. Mike McGlinchey, T. Age in Week 1: 28

Teams in need of right tackles will participate in one of the more interesting markets in recent memory. Above-average-to-good offensive linemen do well in free agency annually, and this year will send three experienced right tackles in their prime to the market. A five-year starter in San Francisco and former top-10 pick, McGlinchey has a good case as the best of this lot. The five-year vet’s run-blocking craft eclipses his pass-protection chops exiting Year 5, but he will walk into a competitive market. The former Notre Dame left tackle should have a lucrative deal in place during next week’s legal tampering period.

Although mutual interest existed regarding a second 49ers-McGlinchey agreement, John Lynch acknowledged the only viable path for McGlinchey to stay in San Francisco would be his market underwhelming. That seems unlikely, so right tackle-seeking teams – and there are a handful – will jockey for the sixth-year veteran. McGlinchey turned 28 in January, making this his obvious window to cash in. He rated fifth in ESPN’s run block win rate stat last season, bouncing back from the quadriceps injury that ended his 2021 season.

There is no shortage of Kyle Shanahan– or Sean McVay-influenced schemes around the league. The Bears employ Luke Getsy as their play-caller; Getsy worked for Shanahan/McVay tree branch Matt LaFleur, and the Bears’ cap space dwarfs every other team’s. After fielding a shaky O-line (on a team full of substandard position groups), Chicago needs a better idea of Justin Fields’ trajectory. Outbidding the field for the top right tackle available is a good start. The Patriots want a right tackle – on a line without a big contract presently – and the Raiders might have a say here as well. In need at multiple O-line spots, Las Vegas will have cash as well if it passes on a big QB investment.

Best fits: Bears, Patriots, Raiders

3. Jawann Taylor, T. Age in Week 1: 26

As expected, the Jaguars took Evan Engram off the market via the franchise tag. The tight end tag being $7MM cheaper than the $18.2MM offensive lineman tag always pointed Taylor toward free agency, and after never missing a start in four Duval County seasons, Taylor will be tough for the Jags to retain. They already drafted Walker Little in the 2021 second round, and no team that is currently paying a left tackle top-10 money (Cam Robinson is seventh) has a top-10 right tackle contract on the books. Taylor is expected to land at least a top-10 right tackle deal, with a $17MM-AAV figure being floated. That would place the former Florida Gator in the top five at the position, depending on how McGlinchey fares next week.

Taylor resembles the genre of player that usually populates the top of a position’s free agency market: a dependable performer who checks in below the top tier at his job. Taylor enjoyed his strongest year in his platform campaign. The former second-round pick dropped his hold count from 11 in 2021 to two in 2022. While PFF charged Taylor with five sacks allowed, Football Outsiders measured his blown-block rate at a career-low 1.3%. Offering a disparate skillset compared to McGlinchey, Taylor has fared better as a pass protector than in the run game. PFF slotted him as a top-10 pass protector among right tackles but viewed him as a dismal run-blocker.

The Jags have presumably made Taylor an offer, but other teams will probably top it. The Dolphins gave Terron Armstead a five-year, $75MM deal in 2022 but have needed a right tackle ever since Ja’Wuan James’ 2019 exit. They were forced to start in-season pickup Brandon Shell for much of the year and have cleared more than $45MM in cap space over the past two days. The team just picked up Tua Tagovailoa‘s fifth-year option, and the league’s lone southpaw starting QB needs better blindside protection after a season in which he suffered at least two concussions. Overspending on O-linemen is not the Patriots’ M.O., but they have a need at right tackle and do not have big dollars devoted to quarterback or any position up front. New England is on the hunt for a right tackle upgrade, and the team’s 2021 free agency showed it would spend when it deemed expenditures necessary.

Best fits: Dolphins, Patriots, Jaguars

4. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB. Age in Week 1: 31

The quarterback market cleared up this week, seeing Geno Smith and Daniel Jones extended and Derek Carr’s lengthy street free agency stretch end with $70MM in practical guarantees. Garoppolo’s injury history will affect his value, but teams kind of make it a priority to staff this position. The former Super Bowl starter is in his prime and on the market for the first time. How high this market goes will depend on what the Raiders want and what Aaron Rodgers decides.

The 49ers’ 12-game win streak that included Brock Purdy’s stunning displays began with Garoppolo at the controls. Guiding San Francisco to four straight wins, Garoppolo was at or close to his best when he suffered a broken foot in Week 13. He sported a 7-0 TD-INT ratio during that win streak and closed the season 16th in QBR. He would have walked into a better market had the injury not occurred; the setback came after a string of health issues. He tore an ACL in 2018, missed 10 games in 2020 after an ankle sprain and was significantly limited by the end of the 2021 slate due to a three-injury season. Garoppolo’s March 2022 shoulder surgery hijacked his trade market.

Ideally for Garoppolo, Rodgers returns to Green Bay or retires. While that is looking unlikelier by the day, it would put the Jets in a desperate position following Carr’s decision. The Raiders represent the other wild card. Garoppolo would slide into Josh McDaniels’ system seamlessly, given the parties’ three-plus years together in New England. The Raiders have operated a bit more stealthily compared to the Jets; they have been connected to Rodgers, Garoppolo and rolling with a rookie. Plan C here would be a tough sell given the presences of 30-year-old skill-position players Davante Adams and Darren Waller, but Las Vegas’ plans cloud Garoppolo’s market. If the Raiders pass and Rodgers chooses the Jets, Garoppolo’s earning power could drop.

McDaniels not fancying a Garoppolo reunion opens the door for the Texans, who hired ex-49ers pass-game coordinator Bobby Slowik as OC, and others. Houston’s situation may not appeal to Garoppolo, but Slowik and Nick Caserio being in Houston make this connection too clear to ignore. The Buccaneers and Commanders are in win-now positions but are giving indications they do not want to spend much at QB. The Commanders were deep in talks for the then-49ers QB last year, however. Garoppolo will test those squads, along with the Falcons, who are entering Year 3 of the Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime. The Panthers’ acquisition of the No. 1 pick likely takes them out of the running, and Carolina not being in the mix could also affect how high the Garoppolo price goes.

Bottom line, there should be enough teams interested in staffing their 2023 QB1 spots that the best free agent option should do OK no matter what happens with Rodgers.

Best fits: Raiders, Texans, Commanders

5. Jamel Dean, CB. Age in Week 1: 26

The Buccaneers retained Carlton Davis last year, but their dire cap situation should force a Dean departure. Dean’s age/performance combination should make him this year’s top cornerback available. With corner a position of need for many teams, the former third-round pick stands to do very well. Dean has only been a full-time starter in one season, however, seeing his defensive snap share jump from 67% in 2021 to 90% last season.

Excelling in press coverage, Dean played a major role for the 2020 Super Bowl champion Bucs iteration and overtook fellow free agent Sean Murphy-Bunting last year. Dean did perform better in 2021 compared to 2022, allowing no touchdowns and limiting QBs to a collective 50.0 passer rating; those numbers shot up to four and 86.0 last season. Still, PFF rated Dean as last year’s 10th-best corner. J.C. Jackson did not break into the top five among corners upon hitting the market last year; Dean should not be expected to do so, either. But many teams will be interested.

The Patriots have paid up for a corner previously, in Stephon Gilmore (2017), but Jonathan Jones – forced to primarily play a boundary role in 2022 – wants to re-sign and will be far cheaper than Dean. The Falcons need help opposite AJ Terrell and trail only the Bears in cap space. Although a Terrell payment is coming, it can be tabled to 2024 due to the fifth-year option. The Dolphins are clearing cap space and now have a corner need, with Byron Jones no longer with the team after his missed season.

Best fits: Dolphins, Falcons, Patriots

6. Jessie Bates, S. Age in Week 1: 26

Bates stands to be one of this free agency crop’s safest bets, combining extensive experience – the final two years as a pillar for a championship threat – with a host of prime years remaining. Beginning his career at 21, the Wake Forest product has started 79 games and anchored the Bengals’ secondary for most of his tenure. The Bengals did not tag Bates for a second time, passing on a $15.5MM price. With the team planning to let Bates test the market, it looks like the sixth-year defender will leave Cincinnati.

The Bengals and Bates went through two offseasons of negotiations, ending in the 2022 tag. The Bengals have some big payments to make at higher-profile positions. Safety does not qualify as such, but Bates has been a cornerstone in Lou Anarumo’s defense and will be handsomely rewarded. Bates finished as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall safety in 2020 and, after a shakier 2021 in which he admitted his contract situation affected his play, Bates came through with impact plays in the postseason. He graded as a top-25 safety, via PFF, in 2022.

Safety is one of this year’s deeper positions in free agency. Of the top 10 safety contracts, however, only one went to a free agent (Marcus Williams in 2022). Bates should be expected to join the Ravens defender, who signed for $14MM per year. It will be interesting if he can climb into the top five at the position; Justin Simmons’ $15.25MM-AAV accord sits fifth. Bates should be expected to approach or eclipse that, though moving to the Derwin JamesMinkah Fitzpatrick tier will be more difficult. Still, after the Bengals offered Bates less than $17MM guaranteed last summer, he should depart for more guaranteed money.

The Browns are interested in Bates, who will cost more than John Johnson cost Cleveland two years ago (three years, $33.75MM). Clear of the record-setting Matt Ryan dead-money hit, the Falcons have cash to spend and a Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime entering Year 3. The Falcons need to make progress, and they do not have much in the way of talent or costs at safety. The team has not featured much here since the Keanu NealRicardo Allen tandem splintered. Bates would be a way to remedy that.

Team fits: Falcons, Browns, Raiders

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