<
>

Is Jordan Love still the Packers' heir apparent, an insurance policy or trade bait?

play
Rodgers doesn't understand fervor over post game comments (1:30)

Aaron Rodgers clarifies the comments he made about his future following the Packers' loss in the NFC Championship Game. (1:30)

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- For the first time since the Green Bay Packers drafted Jordan Love more than nine months ago, there's reason to think that perhaps he won't be Aaron Rodgers' successor.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, who traded up to pick Love at No. 26 overall last April, spent much of his season-in-review session with reporters Monday assuring the fan base (and perhaps Rodgers indirectly) that they are committed to Rodgers both for 2021 and beyond (without knowing how far "beyond" covers, of course).

So what does that mean for Love?

"I view Jordan as a very talented prospect that we're really excited about developing," Gutekunst said.

Developing for what, though, is now the question.

To become a starter in 2024, when Rodgers is no longer under contract?

To serve as simply a valuable insurance policy in case Rodgers had to miss a part or all of a season because of injury?

To trade and try to reclaim something close to what the Packers used (a fourth-round pick to move up and the actual selection itself) to acquire Love in the first place?

"I know that maybe that's not the norm to have quarterbacks sit for a long time, but we certainly believe in that," Gutekunst said. "When you go through my history here with the Green Bay Packers, whether it was Matt Hasselbeck or Aaron Brooks, and the way we developed those guys and always feeling good about having a guy that if something happened to Brett [Favre] back in those days or even when we had Matt Flynn when Aaron was here that if we needed to go to somebody else because of injury or anything else that we were able to do that. We believe in that.

"This probably won't be the [last] time we draft a quarterback and try to develop him because we just think it's such an important part of the game."

None of those quarterbacks Gutekunst mentioned was a first-round pick.

Brooks (fourth round, 1999) was the highest. Hasselbeck was a seventh (1998) and Flynn a seventh (2008). They also took Brian Brohm (second round) in the 2008 draft but he never developed.

Love is technically signed through 2023 -- same as Rodgers -- but the Packers have the fifth-round option on him for 2024 because of his status as a first-round pick, so there's time.

At this point, he needs it. Love was unimpressive in training camp, although his reps were limited because he was No. 3 behind Rodgers and Tim Boyle. He helped run the scout team during the season but those sessions were closed to reporters. The portions of practice that were open -- mostly individual or small-group drills -- showed more of the same from the summer.

Without any preseason games -- where Hasselbeck, for example, shined -- Love's development was clearly impacted.

"It's tough to work on stuff when you're not quite sure and yeah, you can show 'em on tape, but you really gotta coach the player as they're doing it so they can feel it while they're getting critiqued," LaFleur said Monday. "They can feel that muscle memory. So much of it is muscle memory when you're playing that position and just understanding the finer nuances or finer details of the position."

Without knowing whether the offseason program will be virtual again or if they will have in-person sessions this spring, it could further slow Love's development.

"He's gotta take that and make sure he's got a set plan each and every day," LaFleur said. "I told him, 'Hey, you can go take a week or two off, but then we're back at it.' And we'll be in constant communication in terms of just getting updates from him, where he thinks he is. But it's going to take a deliberate approach each and every day and pinpointing what exactly it is that he's trying to improve on a daily basis."

Could the Packers trade Love now?

Perhaps a team that had a similar draft grade on him as the Packers might be interested, but they would be going strictly off his college tape and pre-draft workouts since Love was the inactive No. 3 quarterback every game this season.

It's possible Love's value could remain high with a strong preseason this summer, but it could just as easily decrease if he doesn't perform well.

"I'm really excited about the limited development that Jordan has been able to do in the short period of time that we've had him," Gutekunst said. "Matt kind of hit on it: There was some unforeseen challenges as far as offseason and no preseason games and things like that, so we're excited to continue down that road and get him in some preseason games, at the same time while we're competing for championships with Aaron."