Green Bay Packers

The Jordan Love Extension Makes Sense For Both Sides

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday was the deadline for the Green Bay Packers to exercise the fifth-year option on quarterback Jordan Love‘s rookie contract, but the team went in a different and interesting direction. They gave him a short-term extension that keeps Love under contract through 2024, as the fifth-year option would, but it brings more considerations and flexibility to the table. The exact structure of the deal hasn’t been released yet, but it’s safe to assume the contract is good for both sides.

Why this is good for the Packers

The team’s side is more obvious because there are evident benefits to Green Bay’s approach. Instead of exercising Love’s fifth-year option for 2024 for $20.3 million, the Packers gave Love $13.5 million in guaranteed money, with an upside to $22.5 million. Even if Love reaches the thresholds to earn all the incentives, they will certainly involve “not likely to be earned” incentives, which would move the cap hit to 2025. That would create short-term financial flexibility for the team.

The Packers avoided two recent catastrophic scenarios by doing an early extension. Two years ago, the Cleveland Browns exercised Baker Mayfield‘s fifth-year option, and he imploded in 2021. His $18 million in guarantees became a big problem when the team traded for Deshaun Watson. Ultimately, the Browns were forced to absorb $10.5 million when they traded him to the Carolina Panthers.

Conversely, the New York Giants weren’t sold on Daniel Jones and didn’t pick up his option last year. But he played relatively well last season, and the Giants gave him a four-year, $160 million extension to avoid tagging Jones for $32 million.

With the new deal, the Packers will keep their flexibility for 2024 if Love doesn’t play well this year. But they are also secure if he does, and it ensures that the Packers won’t need to tag Love for an estimated $38 million value.

Why this is good for Love

The player’s side is more complicated because Love theoretically gave up almost $7 million in guarantees for 2024 in exchange for $2 million in incentive upside. But things weren’t so guaranteed for him. After the draft, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said the fifth-year option was expensive for a quarterback who hasn’t been a starter in the NFL. That indicated that Green Bay could refuse to pick up his option, making Love slated to be an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

With the new deal, Love will presumably get more money right away. His 2023 earnings will increase from $2.3 million to $14.5 million if the Packers pay the guarantees as a signing bonus. If he’s good, the Packers will be highly motivated to agree to a new extension next offseason. If he isn’t, Love could have had the fifth-year option. But that is not a certainty, and a bad performance in 2023 would negatively affect his 2024 market.

The short-term extension is also a win for Love because it guarantees he will be rewarded soon if he plays well right away.

The Packers and Jordan Love are in a unique spot because Love hasn’t played much, and it’s impossible to be sure of what he’ll become in the NFL. In 2008, there wasn’t the fifth-year option provision, and Rodgers’ deal would run through 2009. Still, the Packers gave Rodgers his first extension during the season. Since the new 2011 CBA implemented the rookie-scale contract and the fifth-year option, Love is the first quarterback who hasn’t started at least two games in his first three seasons. In other words, in time for the option to be picked up or not.

The short-term extension is a good bridge deal to give both sides more information before the next negotiation. That’s the big reason why the deal is smart for everyone.

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