The Green Bay Packers have a big decision to make this offseason in regards to whether or not they will pick up Jordan Love's fifth-year option, which will come with a salary of $20.272 million for the 2024 season.
Every draft pick receives an initial four-year contract, but first-round selections also have a fifth-year option for the team to either pick up or decline. This decision has to be made prior to the player's fourth NFL season, and if picked up, guarantees their contract in that fifth season.
The value of that guaranteed contract is based upon the position played along with some performance benchmarks that can increase the contract value.
The potential difficulty in this decision for the Packers is obvious in that this is a hefty price to guarantee for Love, who has very little NFL experience. However, despite the lack of meaningful playing time, the Packers have seen him on the practice field, in the locker room, and in the film room for three seasons, which, as Brian Gutekunst told reporters during the 2022 season, gives him the confidence to make a decision.
"We're really pleased with his progression and what he's been able to do," Gutekunst told reporters. "I think it would be really good for him, the growth you need to go through, seeing things for the first time, making those mistakes you need to make, but I think from our end of it, we've seen what we need to see."
Although it's a small sample size, Love appeared to take a big step forward in his development this past season, which many saw against Philadelphia. He was confident, his footwork looked much improved, and he was decisive in his decision-making, which led to timely and accurate passes.
He is now in a position to potentially be the Packers starting quarterback in 2023, depending on what happens with Aaron Rodgers. While Rodgers is still yet to make his decision official, the reports of a trade taking place have been rampant, and one would think that if true, and the Packers are willing to engage in those discussions, they feel comfortable with Love taking over. Whereas on the flip side, if they still have doubts, I imagine they will be fighting hard to keep Rodgers around in 2023.
If we want to go down the rabbit hole of what happens on the off chance that Rodgers is a Packer in 2023, Green Bay should then trade Love, and the fifth-year option discussion becomes a moot point. But if they want to keep Love around for the 2024 season, picking up his fifth-year option in this scenario feels like the likely outcome as a way to keep Love under contract in 2024, not knowing Rodgers' future, but also as a sign of good faith. There have been reports out there that Love could demand a trade if Rodgers is back for the 2023 season.
Since the fifth-year option is a one-year deal, all $20.272 million have to be recognized on the 2024 salary cap if picked up. The easiest way around this would be to extend Love next offseason, which would lower his cap hit that season, but of course, that is dependent upon how well he will play in 2023.
Green Bay has to make their official decision on Love's option by the week after the draft. If I were to guess right now, I'd venture to say that they pick it up. If Love plays well in 2023, they can then extend him in 2024 and lower the cap hit, as already mentioned. If he struggles and they need to look for a new quarterback in the draft next offseason, in the grand scheme of quarterback contracts, $20.272 million is on the light side, and with it only being a one-year deal, it shouldn't impact how they go about their offseason too drastically.
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Story originally appeared on Packers Wire