Could Packers trade Jordan Love after re-upping with Aaron Rodgers?

The Green Bay Packers received news that should make them happy: Aaron Rodgers is back.

Now they're entering Phase 2 (or 202, depending on who you ask) of this operation, and it's a very interesting one. Once the Packers figure out the financials to keep Rodgers and Davante Adams happy and well-paid, they very likely could entertain a trade for the quarterback who was supposed to take Rodgers' spot one day.

Now it appears that Jordan Love, if he ever makes it, will have to make it somewhere else. Reports of Rodgers receiving a four-year contract suggest the reigning MVP will have at least two more seasons in Green Bay.

Love has two more years left on his deal. The odds of him sticking around as a backup feel long.

With Aaron Rodgers back in Green Bay on a multi-year deal, the Packers could opt to trade QB Jordan Love this offseason and recoup what it cost to get him in the 2020 NFL draft. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
With Aaron Rodgers back in Green Bay on a multi-year deal, the Packers could opt to trade QB Jordan Love this offseason and recoup what it cost to get him in the 2020 NFL draft. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Why would the Packers keep him? It felt all along that Love's murky projection at least partly convinced the Packers they needed Rodgers back in order to make another Super Bowl run.

It feels like they should try to get something for him. After all, they moved up — at the cost of a fourth-rounder — to take Love with the 26th overall pick in 2020. The Packers have received little in return.

And the conditions might be decent in some respects, too.

There are still a lot of teams looking for QB help. With Rodgers and Russell Wilson now off the table, the remaining options — such as Jimmy Garoppolo or Mitchell Trubisky — are far less appealing. (That is, unless Deshaun Watson's legal situation suddenly does a 180 in the weeks to come.)

The draft allotment has been met with ambivalence by some folks in the draft community. It's not as poor as Twitter would have you believe, but not nearly as promising as last year's QB draft class (one that largely struggled in their rookie seasons).

That makes Love, at the very least, interesting. Could the Packers get a second-round draft pick for him? It's possible.

On the down side, Love lost potentially his best ally. We don't know what Nathaniel Hackett thinks of Love. But had the Broncos struck out on Rodgers and Wilson, Love might have been a dark-horse candidate. Now that ship has sailed.

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Where could Jordan Love end up if he's traded?

Among the teams that did work out Love prior to the 2020 draft that still need a quarterback are the New Orleans Saints and Washington Commanders.

The Saints have not broadcast their QB plans, and with Sean Payton gone, it's hard to tell what type of passer they'd get most excited about.

But the Commanders left little doubt of their intentions at last week's scouting combine. They are going to get one, general manager Martin Mayhew proclaimed, and we'd venture to guess that if team owner Daniel Snyder had his way, that move would be made hell for leather.

We'd also sign up for a Love-Drew Lock competition in Seattle, if for no other reason than it could be fun to see the two of them slinging YOLO preseason passes amid a QB duel few could have seen coming.

Whatever team kicks around the idea of trading for Love must ask itself one big question: What more do we know about him now than we did when he came out of Utah State following a disappointing final college season?

Hackett said some nice things about Love in January, intimating that it took time for Love to fully absorb Green Bay's system. That's not shocking. Love lost his rookie season, in essence, to COVID-19, taking zero snaps of note. All his work was behind the scenes, and it's arguable how much he could have achieved in 2020 beyond foundational growth.

That's hard to measure without proprietary information tapped directly from Green Bay. Last season, Love played in six games (one start) and threw for 411 yards, with two TDs and three INTs. He was neither really good nor really bad in that one start — a loss at the Kansas City Chiefs — and mostly saw mop-up time in the other five games, including extended work in the Week 18 loss to the Detroit Lions after Rodgers took a seat at halftime.

It would be hard to imagine a team giving up a first-round draft pick for Love, even while he was a first-rounder. There was enough suspicion on him as a prospect coming off a 17-INT senior season that it was no guarantee he'd have gone in Round 1 if the Packers passed on him. Plus, since then, Love hasn't done a lot to change that perception. He's athletic and has a big-league arm, but also swaths of inconsistency cloaking him at times.

Then again, he's still young — five months younger than Pitt's Kenny Pickett, in fact. Pickett is a likely first-round pick. Any team considering drafting Pickett should probably ask itself: Do we like Love the same or more?

Any team trading for Love can keep its first-round pick (assuming it has one to begin with), have two years left on his deal at salary-cap hits under $4 million per year and have his fifth-year option (which would need to be picked up next May) in the team's back pocket.

Green Bay knows the reality of the situation. Hanging onto Love won't make his value go up, save for Rodgers missing major time next season. The Packers should be more than willing to swap out Love in a trade and sign a serviceable backup next year. They're not winning a Super Bowl without Rodgers, one would assume, so it's less important to be grooming a QB whose contract will run out in the next few years.

Will a team make a suitable offer for Love? That's the next big question. Given that the two biggest dominoes — Rodgers and Wilson — already have fallen, there isn't a surplus of them remaining. It wouldn't be shocking to see one team take the risk on Love, a "what's behind door No. 2?" type of player whose value could be unexpectedly high or shockingly little a year from now.

But if the Packers offer Love as a college-aged QB with a cheap contract and untapped potential, he suddenly becomes more appealing to the naked eye.