Green Bay Packers

Let's Talk About Jordan Love and Baker Mayfield

Photo Credit: Benny Sieu (USA TODAY Sports)

I already know a lot of you saw the headline, didn’t read the article and commented on how stupid this is.

But the Green Bay Packers aren’t playing for anything this week. This article isn’t about crapping on the Detroit Lions, Jordan Love, or Baker Mayfield. The Lions have done nothing but help the Packers this season. Mayfield still has a chance to be a great quarterback, and Love has plenty of time to show what he still has.

It doesn’t matter if the Packers win or not in Week 18. It would be great for the record, but they’ve already secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and have a first-round bye. The biggest issue this week is how long their starters will play. It’s good to avoid rust, but you really hope the Packers don’t leave with another injury. They’ve had enough.

And with Aaron Rodgers’ recent comments this week hinting he would like to be back next year, addressing the Packers’ backup is fair. Love started one game this season and could play most of Week 18. Cleveland Browns fans are angry with Mayfield, so there is a chance he could be cut or traded this offseason.

So let’s explore which option would potentially be better.

Jordan Love

The obvious choice would be Love. He will still have two years remaining on his rookie contract after this season. Green Bay decided to trade up and draft a quarterback after Rodgers appeared to be declining. It turns out they were wrong. If he wasn’t a first-round pick, it wouldn’t be a big deal at all. But there will always be an extra level of scrutiny on the team for picking Love instead of an impact receiver or defensive player that year. It wasn’t a bad pick, it just ended up being the wrong time to reach.

Love had to make his first start this season during Week 9 after Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19. You can’t call it an emergency start, but he had less than a week to prepare against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers lost 13-7.

Love was 19/34 with one touchdown and an interception. He also fumbled, but Green Bay recovered it. You can add another 23 yards rushing. It wasn’t the best debut, and he left the game with a 69.5 QB rating. Besides his start, he took snaps in Week 1 and Week 17. He went 7/11 for 87 yards and one sack.

Rodgers’ decision in the offseason will probably determine Love’s fate. If Rogers stays, could the Packers try to move Love? If not, they have a solid backup option for at least two more seasons who should be more than prepared next year with a few games under his belt. He’s still a true wild card at this point.

The hope is that Tim Boyle plays for Detroit, and Love gets most of the reps for Green Bay. The Battle of the Green Bay Backups!

Baker Mayfield

Sure, Mayfield has thrown more interceptions than any other quarterback since 2018. He’s also played most of the 2021 season with an arm injury. His play has regressed for the Browns, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a serviceable quarterback.

A few obstacles stand in the way of a potential Baker acquisition. Mayfield is set to make almost $19 million next season. The Packers are currently more than $35 million in the hole with their salary cap. There is no way they would take that on unless Rodgers is gone. And in this scenario, we are seeing who would be the better backup, not the new starter. So unless the Browns just straight-up release Mayfield, it won’t happen. And after that, he would have to settle for a smaller contract akin to Mitch Trubisky, who signed as a backup with the Buffalo Bills under Josh Allen.

In 2021, Mayfield threw for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. That is his worst total yardage and fewest touchdowns since his debut in 2018. He has 92 touchdowns and 56 interceptions on his career.

Mayfield plans on having surgery this January and should be ready to go for the 2022 season. But with the Browns owing him so much, what will be their plan? Draft someone and try to trade? Cleveland isn’t hurting too badly for money and currently has about $35 million of available cap space, basically the opposite of Green Bay. It’s not that they can’t keep him with this current salary; it’s whether or not they want to.

It will all depend on his health, the Browns’ next draft, and if any teams would want to trade before they thought about releasing him to save the money.

So, Love or Mayfield?

Honestly, the thought of Mayfield backing up Rodgers sounds amazing. I do not doubt that Mayfield is a starting quarterback in this league. But if Browns fans continue to dog him over this season and try to force him out.

Again, this isn’t an anti-Love article. I want to see his potential. But if you have Rodgers on the field and he doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon, it doesn’t hurt to possibly shop the first-round pick. The Packers could get a few players in return or more draft capital. Depending on Rodgers, next year’s team salary will be a nightmare.

Mayfield will only land in Green Bay if Cleveland outright releases him or they eat his salary for some reason, which I doubt would happen. Don’t expect Baker Mayfield to be in the green and gold anytime soon. But it’s a fun thing to think about during Week 18 when the real fireworks won’t begin for a few weeks. I’m sure the Facebook comments about this will be reasonable, right?

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