Even if Aaron Rodgers returns to the Packers for 2023, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be back for 2024. And there’s one specific way the Packers need to plan for that. The team believes it already has everything it needs to make that decision.
By May 3, the Packers have to decide whether to pick up the fifth-year option for quarterback Jordan Love. Meeting with reporters earlier this week, G.M. Brian Gutekunst said the organization already has what it needs to make that decision.
“We’re really pleased with his progression, and what he’s been able to do,” Gutekunst told reporters regarding Love. “I think it would be really good for him, the growth that you need to go through. Seeing things for the first time. Making the mistakes that you need to make. But I think from our end of it, we’ve seen what we need to see.”
How have they seen it, given his limited regular-season playing time?
“We’ve seen him for three years in practice, and doing the things that he’s doing,” Gutekunst said. “There’s a stretch here where Aaron’s been banged up, where he’s had a lot of reps with the ones. I think it was great for him. It was great for us to see. But it was also just really, really good for him to experience game-planning each week.
“I think quarterback’s got to get in this league, play a bunch of games before they learn how to win. But I do think we feel very confident that Jordan can move the ball, score points, and do the things that we ask of our quarterbacks.”
Gutekunst was asked whether he believes Love is ready to be a starter in the NFL.
“I do,” Gutekunst said, with a caveat. “You’ve got to go out and do it in real games, and all that. And I think that’s important. But all young quarterbacks go through a period of time where no matter what individual success, I think it takes them a little bit of time to win in this league. And that’s going to be important for Jordan whenever he gets his opportunity. But that’s a big part of it. I mean, it’s — learning within the game is very important for that development.”
The question becomes when Love will get that chance in Green Bay. At some point, “when” will become “if.”
Either way, the next big “if” relates to whether the team will pick up Love’s option, when the deadline rolls around in less than five months. If they pick up the option, Love will be under contract at least for two more years.