Jordan Love Has Reached the Front of the Line

Heart Breaking: Suspension given to Joe…….

The Green Bay Packers‘ grand quarterback succession plan is not only going to script for president and CEO Mark Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekuns — it’s ahead of schedule.

After three years apprenticing as Aaron Rodgers‘ backup, 25-year-old Jordan Love is rounding into form, having just defeated two of the NFL‘s best teams in a 10-day span. Love followed up a virtuoso performance on Thanksgiving Day against division rival Detroit by completing 25 of 36 passes for 267 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions in Sunday night’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs. At 6-6, none of Green Bay’s remaining games are against teams with a winning record, putting the Packers in prime position for an NFC wild card spot.

Head coach Matt LaFleur’s team entered November with the league’s youngest active roster, with an average age of 25.7. No wide receiver or tight end on the team is older than 26, a purposeful construction so the pass catchers could grow at the same rate as their quarterback. The Pack stumbled to a 2-5 start, going five straight games without a first half TD and losing those halves, 73-9. In the five games since, Love has been nothing short of outstanding.

It’s been a night-and-day difference for a Green Bay team not necessarily designed to compete in ’23. After trading Rodgers to the New York Jets a few days before April’s draft, the Packers knew Rodgers’ salary would count $40.3 million against the salary cap this season. Per Spotrac, that’s more than double the next-highest cap number on the team (21.3 million for tackle David Bakhtiari).

Neither Rodgers nor Bakhtiari have played for their respective teams following disappointing season openers. The duo accounts for more than $60 million of an estimated $94 million Green Bay has tied to dead cap or players on injured reserve this season. It’s hard to win that way in any league, yet Love’s emergence in his first year as starter opens a tantalizing window of hope and possibility for a franchise that may have just nailed another QB succession, following the Favre-to-Rodgers transition of 15 years ago.

Love’s $7.8 million 2024 cap number is low, but he’ll be a free agent then and at this rate, could command a substantial contract extension. Gutekunst will have similar tough choices next season, with Bakhtiari’s cap number rising above $40 million, defensive tackle Kenny Clark’s cap hit more than doubling to $27.5 million, cornerback Jaire Alexander’s salary more than doubling to $24.4 million, and running back Aaron Jones due $17.7 million. The team will have to make some hard decisions to continue building a strong, lasting nucleus around Love.

From a big picture standpoint, however, it looks like the Packers yet again aced their transition from one franchise quarterback to the next, a process that took storied franchises like the Cowboys, Dolphins, and Steelers so many years to figure out after Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, Terry Bradshaw, and Ben Roethlisberger. Green Bay’s succession plan looks like a triumph, with the Packers poised to make a Lambeau-sized leap back into the playoffs after a temporary absence last year.

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