The Green Bay Packers are Jordan Love's team now of Aaron Rodgers to the New Jets on Monday. The deal means Love, their 2020 first-round draft pick, will be Green Bay's Week 1 starter, marking the the first time in 30 years (since 1993) that someone outside of Hall of Famer Brett Favre and Rodgers, a future Hall Famer, will be the Packers' Week 1 quarterback.
Love shined off the bench in 2022 in a 40-33 Week 12 road loss against the eventual NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, completing six of his nine passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, a 63-yard catch-and-run for rookie wide receiver Christian Watson. His two fourth-quarter drives resulted in 10 Packers points, keeping the Green and Gold in the ball game after Rodgers went down with an injury to his ribs. With Love under center, Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur's offense will likely with plenty of under center plays and play-action, one that's designed to have its quarterback playing the game on easy mode. Both of the Packers' Pro Bowl Aarons -- Rodgers and running back Aaron Jones -- have said they've seen enough from Love to feel like he's going to be the next great Packers passer.
"They're ready to move on with Jordan. That's awesome," Rodgers said on "The Pat McAfee Show." "Jordan is going to be a great player. He's a f---ing great kid. He had a really great year this year, getting better on the look team [scout team]. He's got a bright future in front of him. They have a good young team. … They're ready to move on, and so am I."
Jones also expressed his confidence in Love back on Feb. 12, months away from when the trade of Rodgers actually went down.
"It's hard to replace somebody like that [Rodgers]," Jones said. "But I think if that was to happen, Jordan is definitely ready."
There's the case for why Love could make general manager Brian Gutekunst look like a visionary for trading up four spots to select him in 2020 when the Packers were coming off an NFC Championship game run with Rodgers playing well. But what if Love bombs? It seems unlikely based on everything mentioned above, but it's within the realm of possibilities.
If Love doesn't pan out and Green Bay wants to move on a year from now, the only real recourse the Packers have to go get either of the 2024 NFL Draft's top two quarterbacks -- USC's Caleb Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner and one of the more dazzling prospects in at least the last 10 years, and North Carolina's Drake Maye, a rocket-armed passer who had Pro Football Focus' highest deep-passing grade (97.5) in all of college football in 2022 -- is to follow in the 2023 Carolina Panthers' footsteps and to one of the teams with the top two overall picks. The Packers haven't dealt with quarterback instability since the early 1990s, so it's likely the franchise wouldn't enjoy having that issue for multiple seasons. Plus, making a move of that magnitude could buy Gutekunst more time as general manager if the team starts over with a top-tier passing prospect.
The reason trading up is the only move they'd have to do to get one of those top-tier guys is because even if Love underperforms, there's too much talent on the Packers roster for the team to completely bottom out.
The left side of their offensive line is buttressed by two Pro Bowls in left tackle David Bakhtiari and left guard Elgton Jenkins. Running backs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillion represent one of the better backfields in the entire league. Second-year wide receiver Christian Watson had nine scrimmage touchdowns as a rookie in 2022, which was tied for the most among all first-year players with Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III. Those nine scores from scrimmage were tied for fourth-most in the entire NFL among all wide receivers with a few of the league's best: the Vikings' Justin Jefferson, the Bengals' Ja'Marr Chase, the Cowboys' CeeDee Lamb, the Browns' Amari Cooper, and the Seahawks' Tyler Lockett.
Also, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kenny Clark is one of the better players at his position, and Green Bay has nice talent on the edges of their line in Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. Top cornerback Jaire Alexander has been a Second-Team All-Pro in two of the last three seasons, and returner Keisean Nixon was the 2022 First-Team All-Pro at that position, leading the league in kick return yards with 1,009.
Fortunately for Green Bay, it will have enough draft capital to move up in 2024 if it so desires, thanks to getting a 2024 conditional second-round pick back from the Jets that turns into a first-round pick if Rodgers plays 65% of their offensive plays in 2023. That's the equivalent of around 11-12 games played, a benchmark Rodgers hit in 13 of his 15 seasons as the Packers' full-time starting quarterback.
Gutekunst has staked his professional reputation on Love's success, so he's certainly not looking to spend too much time on Love contingency plans. However, the Packers will be well-stocked to make a big jump up in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft if necessary. That's what the Green and Gold should do on the off chance that they don't feel inclined to provide Love a second contract that will lock him in as the face of their franchise for the foreseeable future.