1 Reason for the Packers to play Jordan Love and 1 reason not to

Aug 19, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 19, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

With the Green Bay Packers on the verge of missing the playoffs, they will be facing a very interesting dilemma when that time comes–do they start Jordan Love? Or should the Packers stick with Aaron Rodgers as long as he is healthy?

Love has faced a lot to uncertainty in his short NFL career, ranging from being the Packers starting quarterback when it was unknown if Aaron Rodgers would return, to tons of trade speculation, and seemingly everywhere in between. Now as he gets closer to the end of his rookie deal, the time is coming for when the Packers have to finally decide if they are going to commit to him.

Although there are certainly a number of factors that go into this decision, I see there being one main reason why Love would start once the Packers are eliminated from the playoffs. But on the flip side, there is also one particular reason why Green Bay would stick with Rodgers.

Why the Packers should play Jordan Love

The reason to play Jordan Love is an obvious one, and that is to get a better idea of what they have in the third-year quarterback. Now, of course, the Packers’ picture of who Love can be as an NFL quarterback is probably somewhat clear, given that they’ve seen him in practice and in the film room for nearly three seasons now. However, there is no replacing live game reps, which Love has had very few of.

Next offseason, the Packers have to make a decision about Love’s fifth-year option for 2024, in which they will either decline it, and he will be a free agent following the 2023 season, or they pick it up, and his salary for 2024 will be fully guaranteed. If there is any sort of hint from Aaron Rodgers that he may be considering retirement this upcoming offseason, the Packers need a better idea of where Love is at and who he can potentially be.

In this scenario where Love becomes the starter, Rodgers would, in all likelihood, head to IR with a thumb injury once the Packers are eliminated from playoff contention. Who knows if Rodgers will be on board with this, but — understandably so — the organization has acquiesced to a lot of his requests over the last two years, and if he’s truly considering retirement, Green Bay needs to do what’s best for the future of the team in this situation by giving Love more meaningful snaps, so that they can make the most informed decision possible about his fifth-year option.

Although it wasn’t against starters, Love did look much improved during the preseason compared to when we last saw him against Detroit and, before that, against Kansas City in 2021. He was much more confident, while Matt LaFleur routinely commented on how much better he was at commanding the huddle. With more confidence came improved footwork, thus more accurate passes, and a quarterback who was letting it rip more often instead of playing timid.

With a decision to make in the coming months about Love’s future, it sure would be helpful for the Packers to see him up against starting-caliber defenders to better gauge whether that improvement was a fluke or not. And if Green Bay does go this route and Rodgers still decides to come back, perhaps Love’s trade value could take a jump if he performs well.

Ultimately in this scenario, the Packers are hedging their bets a little bit if there is the possibility that Rodgers could retire by getting some additional looks at Love before making that option decision.

Why the Packers shouldn’t play Jordan Love

Even if the Green Bay Packers are out of playoff contention, there is one main reason why they shouldn’t start Jordan Love and should stick with Aaron Rodgers–and that is if Rodgers is 100% committed to returning for the 2023 season.

If that is the case, then there is still plenty of value that can be derived from this season, if the playoffs are no longer a reality. This value comes in the form of experience between Rodgers and his trio of rookie receivers. We all know how important trust is to Rodgers, and there was clearly a lack of it at times, especially early on in the season. This led to hesitancy from Rodgers, and that’s never a good thing at the quarterback position.

But in addition to needing to be in the right spot at the right time while also catching the ball there is a lot of nuance that comes with playing alongside of Rodgers, from late pre-snap adjustments to non-verbal cues relayed at the line of scrimmage to going off script if the defense presents a different look. Sure, these concepts can be hammered home in the film room or on the practice field, but ultimately, experience in a live game is going to be the best teacher.

Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Samori Toure are currently the only receivers under contract in 2023, with all three likely going to play even bigger roles next season. If there is any hope of the Packers bouncing back, a lot of it begins with having a much more effective passing attack.

In addition to the continued rapport that can be built between Rodgers and his young receivers, it also doesn’t make much sense to pick up Love’s fifth-year option for 2024 if Rodgers is going to be back in 2023. There is the possibility that even if Rodgers is back next year, he could then retire in 2024, but guaranteeing Love’s salary, which will be in the $20 million range, makes very little sense given his lack of experience and the fact that the Packers still may not know what they truly have in him. Not to mention that contract-wise, Rodgers could still be a Packer in 2024 and if so, his deal coupled with Love’s option is a massive amount of cap space going to the quarterback position.

Regardless of which of these two paths the Packers go down, the first step is to have a conversation with Aaron Rodgers to figure out where he is at in regard to the 2023 season. His response should then give Green Bay the answer to the question of what they do with Jordan Love for the remainder of this season.