Over the next two weeks, Acme Packing Company takes a look at each position group on the Green Bay Packers and provides grades and insight on how they performed in the 2020 season. Today, we examine the quarterbacks.
With Aaron Rodgers remaining under center, the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback situation was of course locked in for the 2020 season. But Rodgers’ performance had seemed to slip somewhat in the past few years — even the 2019 campaign that saw the Packers go 13-3 and advance to the NFC Championship Game was not up to his early-decade standard.
Early in the 2020 offseason, with the coronavirus pandemic just shifting into full gear, the Packers made a shocking move to add a quarterback to the room. The move sent shockwaves around the NFL as media and fans alike tried to make sense of the move and liken it to Rodgers’ own drafting 15 years earlier.
Here is our first look at a significant addition to the Packers’ 2020 roster, even if that addition did not make his way onto the field.
How acquired: 1st-round draft pick in 2020 NFL Draft (#26 overall)
Contract: 4 years, $12.38 million total; 2020 cap hit $2.25 million
Stats: No games played in 2020
The Green Bay Packers made their most dramatic draft pick of the last 15 years last April, when the team traded up from pick 30 to 26 and selected Love out of Utah State. The big-armed Love had a tremendous sophomore season in 2018, but struggled mightily as a junior before declaring for the draft a year early. Still, the Packers made the move up to grab him, sending a fourth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins to make the climb to pick number 26 and effectively sacrificing the potential to obtain a player who could have had a material impact on the 2020 season with the selection.
To say that this pick did not help the team in 2020 would be an obvious statement. Love was not active for a single game, remaining as the third-string quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers and backup Tim Boyle. With Rodgers remaining exceptionally healthy all season, there was never a hint of an opportunity for Love to see the field, as he spent his entire rookie season in long-term development mode.
With Rodgers on the roster, the Love selection was always going to be about the future. But that future seems even farther away after Rodgers’ MVP season than it did before, with Rodgers having had a few down years (by his lofty standards) heading into 2020. General manager Brian Gutekunst commented after the season concluded that he hopes to get Love into preseason games to see how he performs and responds, but Gutekunst has publicly stated that he expects Rodgers to be the Packers’ quarterback for some time to come.
In 2021, the expectation can and should be that Love is Rodgers’ backup. The ideal situation would be that the league holds a full slate of preseason games in which Love can participate and gain valuable competitive reps, then he fills Boyle’s 2020 role as designated kneel-down-taker at the end of Packers blowout wins.
The Packers signed another quarterback as a rookie undrafted free agent, adding Jalen Morton from Prairie View A&M immediately after the 2020 NFL Draft. However, the team released Morton early on in training camp, preferring to stick to a three-man room through August and into the 2020 season. They did not carry a quarterback on the practice squad at any point during the season.