In the mythical land of Green Bay, Wisconsin, a new heroic saga is set to begin. Our protagonist is young Jordan Love. Will Love continue a series of legendary feats, or will he fade into obscurity, a mere footnote in the franchise’s history?
Before we enter this era of Green Bay Packers history, there’s just one little hiccup. The current protagonist is still kind of hanging around. Two weeks into free agency and a month out from the draft, Aaron Rodgers is still on Green Bay’s roster after expressing his intention to play for the New York Jets.
We still have no idea when (and, if, to be fair) a trade will occur. Comments from Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst and his peer on the Jets, Joe Douglas, at the annual NFL owners meeting (which I, an NFL owner, was not actually invited to) pointed toward no immediate resolution. After hearing from both GMs, what did we learn about Rodgers’ future?
It’s clear that both teams have a “Plan A” in mind for their respective quarterback position.
For the Jets, that plan is Rodgers, even if Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh avoided using the future Hall of Famer’s name as often as possible.
Saleh referred to Zach Wilson, currently the only real option actually on the Jets’ roster, as the team’s “No. 2.” While Saleh still spoke highly of the former second-overall pick, it’s clear they intend for him to learn behind a veteran for now.
“I really still think Zach has a future in this league to be a really good quarterback, I really do,” Saleh said. “He has the work ethic, he has the mindset, he’s coming in here to attack it. But yeah, we’re counting on him to be a fixture here for a while.”
Meanwhile, Douglas spoke about the idea of targeting Lamar Jackson, who recently revealed he asked for a trade from the Baltimore Ravens in early March. Douglas expressed that while Jackson is a fantastic player, it would be both “disingenuous” and “in bad faith” to go down that path when they’re focused elsewhere. Targeting Jackson would be much more expensive than Rodgers, so it might not be an option anyway, but Douglas’ comment shows a commitment towards landing Rodgers.
Meanwhile, for the Packers, Gutekunst made it clear that their plan is for Love to be the starting quarterback. Gutekunst said that “all options are on the table,” a mantra he’s repeated numerous times this offseason, but everything is trending toward Love taking over. He cited Rodgers’ desire to be traded as a major reason why, but other comments suggest there’s more to it than that.
Gutekunst said he tried to contact Rodgers many times throughout the offseason to discuss his plans for the future but was only able to speak to Rodgers’ representation.
“Our inability to reach him or for him to respond in any way—I think at that point, I had to do my job,” Gutekunst said.
Gutekunst’s statements contradict Rodgers’ recent comments on The Pat McAfee Show. Rodgers said he wanted more direct, honest conversations with the Packers brass, but Gutekunst claims that he attempted to have conversations and was unable to reach Rodgers. Whatever the truth, it’s clear both parties are ready to move on.
When will the move that sets both franchises on their next chapter occur? Right now, those pages are stuck together, with no end immediately in sight.
Saleh isn’t too worried about when Rodgers becomes a Jet, and he’s sure it will happen. (“I’m sure eventually they’ll figure something out.”) Because of Rodgers’ familiarity with Nathaniel Hackett’s offense, the Jets head coach believes Rodgers will catch on quickly whenever he arrives. Plus, they recently acquired one of Rodgers’ trusted targets in Allen Lazard.
And those of us who followed Rodgers the past few seasons know he isn’t itching to go to voluntary offseason activities. Whenever Rodgers arrives, he’ll pick things up quickly and in his own way.
Douglas is similarly unbothered. “There’s been some productive conversations but we’re not where we need to be,” Douglas said. He doesn’t feel there’s a need to rush the process and is optimistic a deal will get done.
Gutekunst also isn’t in a rush. The Packers believe Love is their starter, and while he hopes a deal can happen soon, he won’t rush it. Green Bay’s general manager hinted that he would be fine if a deal took until May/June if needed, saying, “It has to work for both parties, and I think we’re both committed to figuring that out, but it’s really in their court right now so we’ll see where it goes.” This means that a stalemate could go on past the draft, although that seems unlikely.
Speaking of draft capital, Gutekunst also added that he doesn’t necessarily need a first-round pick to make the deal happen as long as he gets fair value.
Ultimately, we learned that a trade between the two teams is imminent. Both teams are determined to get a deal done. But the two sides haven’t agreed on compensation yet. Without a true deadline (other than, like, before the season starts), both parties can afford to take their time. I believe a deal gets done before the draft. Both teams will want a clear plan in the works to create their attack plan, but things could stretch all the way to the draft itself. The Jordan Love story is ready to begin, but this Aaron Rodgers epilogue is still being written.
But it’ll still come out long before George R.R. Martin finishes The Winds Of Winter.