By Alex Kurpeski
Aaron Rodgers is in the midst of a spectacular season. At age 37, the former MVP is only ten touchdown passes away from setting a career-high in that department, while also projected to surpass the 4,000 yard threshold for the ninth time in his career. Rodgers is also the only player in NFL history to throw for 400 touchdowns and less than 100 interceptions in his career. But could this be his last season wearing green and gold?
As iconic as Rodgers’ run in Green Bay has been, the Packers drafted Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft for a reason. In the last few years, we’ve seen Rodgers’ play tail off ever so slightly. While he’s been outstanding this season, one has to think the decision to draft Love has fed A-Rod’s attrition, prompting the future Hall of Famer to remind everyone just how great he is. This was a masterful tactic by Green Bay’s front office, who seemed to know that they could coax this performance from Rodgers by lighting a fire under him.
AARON RODGERS IS THE MOST TALENTED QUARTERBACK OF ALL TIME pic.twitter.com/f0DX414wKE
— 𝙋𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙚 ³³ 🏰 (9-3) 🧀 (@GoatAaronJones) December 6, 2020
It was widely accepted that Love would need a season or two of development before taking the starting reins in Green Bay. Though we’ve yet to see Love appear in a game this season, my expectation is that he could start the Packers’ Week 17 tilt with Tennessee — assuming they clinch their division. If this theory comes to fruition, then Love’s performance could go a long way towards determining whether or not he will be the starter for Green Bay in 2021.
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State:
• Backyard football thrower
• Easy arm strength
• Pocket Maneuverability (+)
• Multi-pitch pitcher (++)
• Quick flick/fiery throwing motion
• Sky-high confidence (+)
• High risk/reward type of prospect pic.twitter.com/NVnf2x1N8g
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) March 11, 2020
But why rush Love into a starting role while Rodgers is still under contract, you might ask. Well, it’s simple. Love is a much cheaper option and trading Rodgers could allow the team to recoup some assets that would accelerate their retool around the former Utah State star.
David Yost, former Utah St. OC, highlights in @TyDunne’s article where Jordan Love excels.
I imagine a big reason why LaFleur wanted him in Green Bay. Also, this is why Love can be successful too. pic.twitter.com/JMlSmh3kx7
— Paul Bretl (@Paul_Bretl) December 4, 2020
While he’s entering the twilight years of his NFL career, Rodgers remains one of the most physically gifted players in the league. Were it not for Patrick Mahomes, the former Cal standout would certainly be in the MVP conversation this season. Rodgers is on pace to complete 68.9% of his passes this season — which would be a career-high — while leading the league in touchdown passes, touchdown rate, true passer rating, and red zone completion % while practically leaning on only one receiver all season long — Davante Adams. Time and time again Rodgers has done more with less than any passer in the league not named Tom Brady. There are plenty of organizations that would jump at the idea of building their offense around him and Green Bay would not be doing their team justice by not exploring those discussions this offseason.
Aaron Rodgers stays 🔥🔥🔥
13-for-14, 161 yards and 2 TDs so far. #GoPackGo
— NFL (@NFL) December 6, 2020
Unless the Packers manage to make a title run this season, I expect Rodgers to be available in trade discussions while he’s still a valuable asset. With teams like the Patriots, Broncos, and 49ers, and Colts all seemingly a quarterback away from Super Bowl contention, the Packers could be inclined to move Rodgers for a bevy of draft picks. This could be in Rodgers’ best interest too, as each of these teams will give him a great chance to close out his storied career on a high note.
Ultimately, this decision will be a battle between what’s best for business (selling high on an egotistical soon to be 38-year-old quarterback with documented attitude issues) or what’s best for the legacy of Rodgers and the team (keeping him until his contract expires). If you asked the Patriots front office today whether they wished to have traded Tom Brady before the 2019 NFL Draft, I can imagine the response would be an overwhelming yes. If they are confident that Love is the guy long-term, then this transition should be made sooner rather than later.