All is fair in Love and war.
Veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers was left in the dark when the Packers traded up for Utah State gunslinger Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
“I haven’t connected with Aaron yet,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters on a conference call on Thursday night. “I think that when you go through kind of the way things went tonight, you weigh the short-term and the long-term and the way the board went, this was just the best decision for the Packers.”
Rodgers threw 4,002 yards, 26 touchdowns and four interceptions and led the Packers to the NFC Championship game last season, but at 36 years old, it’s clear that he represents the short-term, while Love is now the future face of the franchise.
The wait for Rodgers’ reaction has been closely watched as he has been known to vent over personnel decisions in the past. And the Packers could have used a receiver from a deep class at that position, but when they went with Love it marked the 15th straight draft they opted not to take a skill-position player in the first round.
The “passing the torch” ritual is seldom easy for an aging star, but it’s an essential part of the NFL cycle with which Rodgers is well-acquainted having been in the same position with Brett Favre back in the 2005 NFL Draft.
“He’s obviously been through this and he’s a pro and I think it’s something that’s a long-term decision,” Gutekunst said. “Obviously Aaron has been around a long time and he knows what we’re playing for right now, so that’s what’s most important right now.”
Love, 21, is expected to serve as an understudy for at least a year behind Rodgers, who is entering the third year of a four-year, $134 million contract extension signed in 2018. He carries a dead cap hit of $51.15 million this year, which drops to $31.56 million in 2021.
The Aggies’ former signal-caller has been a polarizing prospect ever since declaring for the draft. After a breakout 2018 season, Love regressed significantly, prompting some to speculate he would transfer to a Power 5 program for his senior year to bolster his stock.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound prospect tallied 3,402 yards, 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2019, which he referred to as “17 learning moments.”
“Are you betting on the talent?” one NFL scout told Yahoo Sports in January. “It’s like an NBA evaluator looking at upside. The body of work this year wasn’t great. But he had a great [redshirt] sophomore year. It’s like the NBA looking at an underclassman. You see the body and the great arm strength.”
In the end, Gutekunst said their decision came down to who was available at the time.
“Had a good opportunity to take Jordan Love, the quarterback from Utah State,” he said said. “Excited about a player we take and develop at the most important position in football.”
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