Ever since Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur spoke during the team’s bye week and claimed that the squad wants quarterback Aaron Rodgers to return in 2023, there’s been speculation around a trade of backup quarterback Jordan Love. Love, going into the fourth year of his rookie deal, was a first-round draft choice of the team back in 2020 and has only managed to throw 83 passes off of the bench.
Despite the limited sample size in 2022, Love completed 14 of 21 passes (66.7 percent) for 195 yards (9.3 yards an attempt) and a touchdown as an injury substitution and in garbage time in place of Rodgers. Some fans want to make the switch — and have wanted to make the switch since the team was 4-8 in November — while others believe the team needs to trade Love and give him an opportunity to play for someone else next season.
Here’s why it’s highly unlikely that a trade will happen: Love has no leverage.
Gutekunst, as recently as last week, stated that he believes that Love is ready to start under center going into next season. At the bye, he claimed, “Whatever comes with having great quarterbacks is worth it.” That means even having your four-time MVP quarterback threatening retirement immediately after the season ends.
While Rodgers has stated that he’s not going to hold the team “hostage,” he hasn’t yet stated to the team that he’s going to return for 2023. Until then, the Packers can’t even entertain the idea of moving Love. If Rodgers does come back, though, would they?
There is an upcoming decision surrounding Love, as his fifth-year option must either be exercised or declined this offseason for Green Bay to retain his rights in 2024 without having to use a franchise tag or by giving him an extension. At the bye, Gutekunst claimed that, “[the Packers have] seen what we need to see,” regarding the decision on the option. His tone changed some in the end-of-year presser, though, as he stated, “I wouldn’t say that’s a given. I think we’re kinda working through what’s best,” in reference to the option being exercised.
While it hasn’t been officially decided yet, it seems like the Packers are strongly leaning toward picking up the option, which could potentially lock in Rodgers and Love on the roster through the 2024 season. Remember, Gutekunst said that having the two former first-round quarterbacks on the roster is a “great problem to have” at midseason.
So if the team doesn’t want to let go of Love, even if Rodgers returns, then what course of action does Love have to get to a team that would start him in 2023? The first step would be to skip organized team activities, the voluntary workouts that teams have leading up to training camp. The problem? It doesn’t seem like the Packers care about attendance for those practices at all. Beyond the fact that they’re voluntary, the team’s STARTING quarterback already skips them. It’s no skin off their nose.
The next step would have to be a holdout, or rather a hold-in. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams now must fine players a mandatory $50,000 a day for holdouts during camp. The fines can only be waived for players under rookie contracts, which Love is. That has completely destroyed the holdout mechanic. With that in mind, players now “hold-in” by showing up to camp but do not suit up for practice and essentially watch installs from the sideline.
What’s Green Bay’s pain in that? The only reason Love would need to hold-in would be if Rodgers returns, at which point the Packers already don’t need Love to see the field in 2023. Despite injuring his thumb, ribs and knee in 2022, Rodgers remained under center and only let Love see a few handfuls of snaps throughout the 17-game season.
If you put yourself in the shoes of Gutekunst or LaFleur, which is more important: The 20-ish snaps Love is expected to throw in garbage time in an average season over whoever is named Green Bay’s QB3 or owning Love’s rights for another two (maybe three if the team eventually decides to franchise tag him in 2025) seasons? It’s a no-brainer. Love simply doesn’t have the leverage to get out of Green Bay anytime soon.