Shocked, stunned, confused and flabbergasted is largely how Packer nation feels.
The Green Bay Packers were one game away from returning to the Super Bowl. With a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Aaron Rodgers entering his twilight years, the general thought was to get Rodgers’ help.
In the NFC Championship Game, the Packers were knocked like a high school team by the 49ers. San Francisco’s QB Jimmy Garoppolo had less than ten pass attempts. On the flip side, the offense was stagnant for three quarters. They did score 13 points in the 4th, but the 49ers had already called the dogs off. With all these issues, the Packers selected Utah States’ Jordan Love.
It seemed apparent the Packers needed help in their front seven and at the skills position. During Rodgers’ tenure as starter, the Packers have not drafted a running back, wide receiver or tight end in the first round. The entire team has always been on Rodgers’ arm. But, as he ages, it’s only natural young players are needed to make one final push for a Super Bowl. The love for Jordan was too much to pass as the Packers traded up to select him.
Rodgers is under a four-year contract, but his cap hit after two years is team-friendly as his money is mostly paid upfront. The parallel of this draft is a splitting image. Brett Farve, 35 was debating retirement and the Packers were ready to turn to the future. Rodgers was selected 24th overall 15 years ago as heir apparent. Now, 15 years later, Rodgers has his replacement selected with the 26th pick. Rodgers is coming off a season in which he threw for 4,002 yards, 26 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
“I haven’t connected with Aaron yet,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said. “He’s obviously been through this and he’s a pro and I think it’s something that’s a long-term decision. I think that when you go through kind of the way things went tonight, you weigh the short-term and the long-term and the way the board went, this was just the best decision for the Packers. Obviously Aaron has been around a long time and he knows what we’re playing for right now, so that’s what’s most important right now.”
If Love is the future for the Packers, Rodgers is on the clock since he’s stated he wants to play until 40. The decision to take a backup quarterback in the first round instead of an impact player may cause a rift between players and the front office.
When a team is so close to acquiring a Lombardi trophy, players aren’t interested in a project quarterback. Love may turn into a franchise quarterback but for the time being, Rodgers seeks a second Super Bowl ring while the Packers want him to prepare his replacement.