Green Bay’s stunning decision to trade up four spots to take a first-round flier on quarterback Jordan Love raises many questions. Here’s one that Simms and I discussed on Monday’s PFTOT: Would a traditional owner have allowed G.M. Brian Gutekunst to make the move?
To answer the question, which was smartly raised by Simms, of whether an owner would have answered the “can we trade up for Jordan Love?” question with a “hell no,” it’s important to remember the question that Gutekunst would have posed to an owner less than 20 months earlier: “Can we sign Aaron Ridgers, who has two years left under contract, to a four-year extension?”
More specifically, can we give Aaron a $57.5 million signing bonus? Can we pay him $66.9 million through the 2018 season? Can we pay him $81.9 million through the 2019 season?
Yes, the Packers have paid Rodgers nearly $82 million for two years of football, in order to have the right to employ him for four seasons beyond that. Now, those four seasons will at best coincide with the four years of Love’s rookie contract.
Would an owner who green-lit a major late-career investment in Green Bay’s franchise quarterback have also approved the acquisition of his likely successor so soon thereafter? Maybe some would have, but others definitely would have refused. If there were misgivings about Rodgers’ longevity, the Packers should have simply dogpaddled through the final two years of his prior contract and then tagged him or signed him now, at the age of 36. It’s difficult if not impossible to harmonize signing him to a six-year contract in August 2018 with selecting the guy who presumably will take over for Rodgers at some point during the four years of the extension that was tacked onto Rodgers’ prior deal.
Of course, Gutekunst didn’t have unfettered discretion, even without an owner. He surely sought, and received, the approval of CEO Mark Murphy. And Murphy had no qualms about making a move that doesn’t quite mesh with the decision to give Rodgers a massive contract.
Then again, maybe Murphy thinks that having Love on the roster will coax even better play out of Rodgers. Indeed, it was Murphy who embraced the potential friction flowing from the Tyler Dunne article that, among other things, characterized Murphy as telling Rodgers “don’t be the problem” and claimed that Murphy had become weary of Rodgers’ “diva stuff.”
“I think this is going to be great motivation for [Rodgers] and the team,” said Murphy at the time in response to the storm of something other than sand created by Dunne’s article. “You hate to have your dirty laundry aired but I do think it’s going to be a positive.”
And it was. The Packers went 13-3 and nearly got to the Super Bowl. So if a little dysfunction is good, maybe a lot is better — and maybe this whole thing was designed to give Rodgers a reason to finish his career with a full-on sprint.
It’s still an all-in play that carries plenty of risk, including a very real chance that, after the 2020 season, Rodgers will begin to clamor for a trade to a team with an owner who wouldn’t make a major investment in Rodgers and then turn around not very long after doing so and undermine him.