The Packers have insisted on keeping Aaron Rodgers around for at least 2021 for one very simple reason. His replacement isn’t ready.
Jordan Love, the quarterback for whom the Packers traded up in the first round of the 2020 draft, hasn’t gotten the reps necessary to prepare to play. With no preseason last year due to the pandemic, Love has never taken a snap in any NFL game. The Packers simply couldn’t have made him the quarterback this year without assuming a significant risk that he’ll be overwhelmed and, in turn, his performance will be underwhelming.
If Love were ready to go, Rodgers undoubtedly would be gone. The philosophical divide between Rodgers and the Green Bay front office remains, with the team viewing Rodgers as a mere employee and Rodgers believing he has earned greater consideration than that. Gutekunst disputed on Thursday the suggestion that the team doesn’t treat players well — less than 24 hours after Rodgers took the podium with the smattering of Gs behind it to complain about the manner in which the front office treats players.
“We are always very sensitive to what those players have given this organization, and when we go through that it’s always with class and dignity,” Gutekunst said. “But again it’s a hard business and I think sometimes obviously the Packers may take the brunt of what is the NFL business.”
That last comment is very interesting. Why would Gutekunst think the Packers take the brunt of what the NFL business is? Is it because the Packers currently are the only NFL shoved against the ropes by a franchise quarterback who, in Gutekunst’s apparent view, can’t or won’t understand the basic nature of the way the NFL operates — and is suddenly willing to complain about it publicly?
Gutekunst also admitted on Thursday that the Packers traded for Randall Cobb because of Rodgers, and Gutekunst acknowledged that efforts to placate Rodgers from a personnel standpoint make Gutekunst’s job harder. Surely, he didn’t want to trade for Cobb. After all, Gutekunst let Cobb walk away in free agency in 2019 (he landed in Dallas for one year, $5 million) and didn’t sign him when he became available in 2020. In other words, the Packers wanted to move on from Cobb. They brought him back because Rodgers wanted him. There’s surely some resentment that Rodgers coerced the team into doing something that the team didn’t want to do.
What it wants to do is move on with Jordan Love, but Jordan Love isn’t ready. Thus, while Rodgers embarks on what quite possibly will be the final year of his Green Bay career, whether the team lets Rodgers move on after 2021 will depend on whether Love will be ready to move in as the starter.
If Love is ready to go, Rodgers will be gone. If Love isn’t prepared to play in 2022, that’s when things could get (or stay) interesting, with the Packers deciding that it’s in the best interests of the team to keep a quarterback who clearly doesn’t want to be there, but won’t come right out and say it.