General manager Ted Thompson made a pivotal move on October 31, 2008, when Aaron Rodgers had only seven starts under his belt as the Green Bay Packers‘ quarterback. Despite Rodgers’ 4-3 record at the time and a subsequent 2-7 season finish in 2008, Thompson sealed the deal during a bye week, securing Rodgers with a six-year, $65 million contract extension, ranking him as the NFL’s fourth-highest paid quarterback.
Thompson’s proactive approach paid off, aligning with the Packers’ strategy of securing their current talent early. Fast forward 15 years, and it’s time for the Packers to employ the same strategy with Jordan Love.
Love, who is about to make his fourth career start against the Detroit Lions, mirrors Rodgers in many ways. At 24 years old, he’s the same age Rodgers was when he inked his first Green Bay extension, and he’s in his fourth year with the organization, similar to Rodgers’ situation. Love’s initial performances have been promising, much like Rodgers’ early days.
In May, Love signed an extension through 2024, which included an $8.8 million signing bonus, $15.3 million in guarantees, and the potential to earn up to $24.8 million between 2023 and 2024.
The contract adjustments for 2023, with a base salary of $1.01 million, and the upfront signing bonus of $7 million have been mutually beneficial. Love secured more guaranteed money than his initial rookie contract, while the Packers gained an extended opportunity to evaluate him as their long-term quarterback solution.
Although Love’s sample size is small, the Packers have had nearly three and a half years to assess him since selecting him in the 2020 NFL Draft. Every time Love takes the field and performs well, his price tag rises.
Through three games, Love ranks third in touchdown passes, throwing only one interception, and holds a passer rating of 94.7, leading the Packers to a 2-1 start despite several key players missing games.
Love’s on-field prowess is complemented by his leadership style, which contrasts with Rodgers’ more confrontational approach. Love has earned the respect and admiration of his teammates, fostering unity in the locker room.
Looking at the broader NFL landscape, top quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, and Deshaun Watson have signed lucrative contracts. If Love maintains a Pro Bowl-level performance this season, he could seek a deal in a similar range.
However, the Packers have learned the importance of financial flexibility after dealing with Rodgers’ substantial cap hits. With Rodgers’ contract set to expire, they can also free up cap space by releasing the injury-prone David Bakhtiari.
By acting promptly with Love, the Packers could keep his cap hit within the 10% range for the foreseeable future. This would enable them to retain their young core talent and potentially compete for Super Bowls in the coming years.
While Love’s body of work remains limited, the Packers should recall the gamble they took 15 years ago with Rodgers, signing him to a long-term deal after only seven starts, which eventually led to a Super Bowl victory. It’s now time for the Packers to take a similar leap of faith with Love.
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