Could the Packers Really Bench Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers for Jordan Love?
The chance of coach Matt LaFleur making the change for reeling Green Bay (3-6) is real. Here's why.
Losers of five in a row heading into a home game on Sunday afternoon against the Dallas Cowboys (6-2), the reeling Green Bay Packers (3-6) are in real danger of dropping out of playoff contention in a wide-open NFC with a loss. Even with a win, the Packers face an uphill battle to qualify for the postseason as they have little chance of catching the Minnesota Vikings (7-1) to capture first place in the NFC North and will have to settle for a contested wild-card spot.
With Green Bay’s season hanging by a thread, some have already started to think about the future and whether Aaron Rodgers, who won his second consecutive MVP award last season and signed a three-year, $150 million contract extension in March that contained massive amounts of guaranteed money, should take a seat in favor of backup quarterback Jordan Love.
While that may sound like a fairly extreme measure given the circumstances and what Rodgers — who ranks 18th in completion rate (64.7%), eighth in passing yards (2,091), seventh in passing touchdowns (14) and 16th in QB rating (89.0) — means to the franchise, it may be the right move for Green Bay moving forward as the Packers have to decide whether or not to pick up Love’s fifth-year option this offseason. That move, which would be worth nearly $20 million fully guaranteed, would tether Love to the Packers through the 2024 season and essentially make him Green Bay’s new franchise quarterback. As general manager Brian Gutekunst previously told The Green Bay Press-Gazette , it would be “very difficult to envision” a scenario in which Rodgers and Love are both on the roster in 2024.
Given those stakes, the Packers would likely want as much information about Love — who has appeared in eight games (one start) since Green Bay took him 26th overall in 2020 and completed 59.2% of his passes for 484 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions — as possible and the only way to get it is by putting Rodgers on the bench once the outcome of this season’s games no longer matter for the team with regard to the playoffs. Would it be awkward to put the reigning MVP on the sidelines in favor of a third-year player who lost the only NFL game he’s started? Of course. But it might be necessary so that Gutekunst and Packers coach Matt LaFleur know what they have in Love.
“At the end of the day, Brian and Matt, their responsibility is the next 10 years,” said ESPN NFL front-office insider Mike Tannenbaum. “They’re not going to win the title this year, so as hard as it is to look Aaron Rodgers in the eye and say, ‘We’re benching you.’ The alternative is he comes back and they trade Jordan Love to [a team like] the Falcons for a third-round pick and Jordan Love is a consequential starter in the league for the next 10 years. Then Aaron graduates after the ’23 season, and now you’re sitting there with no hope, no plan, and your young quarterback, with whom this whole thing got started, is crushing it in Atlanta, which you can’t have happen.”
Uncomfortable as it may be for the Packers, Tannenbaum has a point. If Green Bay wants to avoid facing it and delay confronting the future and Rodgers’s actual place in it, they need to start winning football games starting on Sunday.
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