Among the many decisions that the Green Bay Packers must make in the coming months, one of the biggest involves quarterback Jordan Love. Because the Packers drafted Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, they have the right to exercise a team option on his rookie contract that extends that deal to a fifth year in 2024.
The deadline for teams to exercise these fifth-year options on 2020 first-round picks is May 1, the Monday following this year’s draft, and while draft selections could affect the Packers’ decision, more relevant is what Aaron Rodgers decides to do in the coming weeks. However, the Packers also now know one of the critical pieces of information about their decision on Love’s option: the price tag.
On Tuesday, the NFL revealed the values for the option for these players and for Love, the option number will be $20.272 million. The league’s CBA provides for different values for each position, and the values escalate depending on a player’s playing time and/or Pro Bowl appearances. Love, however, has not appeared in a Pro Bowl nor has he reached any of the playing time levels required for an increased number, and therefore he will be subject to the base value for a quarterback.
If Love had played more than 50% of the Packers’ snaps in each of his first three seasons, over 75% in two of the three, or over 75% on average overall, he would have been eligible for $23.171 million. One Pro Bowl appearance (on the initial ballot rather than as an alternate) could have increased the number to $29.504 million, while two Pro Bowls would put his number at $32.416 million.
Of the 28 players eligible for an option this year, only two hit the highest escalator: Buccaneers offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs and Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Another four (Joe Burrow, Chase Young, Justin Herbert, and CeeDee Lamb) each made one Pro Bowl in the last three years and are eligible for an option falling into that tier.
Fifth-year options become fully guaranteed when they are exercised, so the Packers will need to be sure that they want to pay out that number to Love if they do use it. The team exercised its options last offseason on both of its 2019 first-round picks, outside linebacker Rashan Gary and safety Darnell Savage. However, Savage’s play in 2022 came well short of being worth the $7.9 million salary he will be due in 2023 on the option, leaving the Packers with a difficult pill to swallow for the upcoming season. With the deal being fully guaranteed, the only way that the Packers could escape paying Savage that money is by trading him to another team.
The most likely scenarios for Love are that (a) the Packers will pick up his option if Aaron Rodgers retires or is traded, or (b) the team declines it if Rodgers stays in Green Bay and commits to playing another few years. With the cap hit for Rodgers’ 2024 contract already just over $40 million, paying $60 million for two quarterbacks — including $20 million for one who ideally would not see the field — is likely untenable,