GREEN BAY, Wis. — Coach Matt LaFleur noticed it from the moment Jordan Love walked back into Green Bay Packers headquarters last month for the start of offseason workouts.
The quarterback returned for his NFL season No. 4 knowing that as soon as the Aaron Rodgers-to-the-New York Jets trade was finalized, he would officially move to the top of the depth chart.
His coach could tell his new quarterback came back with a new swagger.
“I think he definitely understands that he’s the guy in charge,” LaFleur said recently. “He’s gonna be the guy in the huddle, and he’s gotta be an extension of us, and we’re excited for him. We got a lot of confidence in him. I think he showed it just in the limited action he did last year, and just the ability to step in there and the moment was not too big for him. You could see that. He was super poised and that, quite frankly, gave us the confidence that we needed to see from him.”
All the verbal support — and there’s been plenty of it this offseason from LaFleur, general manager Brian Gutekunst and team president Mark Murphy — means something more after Tuesday’s developments. On the day the Packers had to decide whether to pick up the fifth-year option for 2024 on Love’s rookie deal, it turned out there was a third choice: a new contract.
Shortly before the fifth-year option deadline, the two sides agreed to a one-year, $22.5 million extension through the 2024 season that includes $13.5 million guaranteed.
The Packers put some of that guaranteed money into the 2023 season, which gave him a raise from the $2.298 million he was scheduled to make under his rookie contract. The Packers got the benefit of splitting the money between the 2023 and 2024 cap years instead of having to count the entire $20.727 million that would have been the fifth-year option total on the 2024 cap.
As if replacing Rodgers wouldn’t be pressure enough on Love, doing so in the last year of his contract could have made every mistake for the first-time starter attract questions about how long he would get to prove himself.
With the extension through 2024, Love now gets the chance to put some of the uncertainty of the entire situation behind him — from not knowing when he would get his chance to be the starter to being unsure how long he’d get to prove himself worthy.
“We were upfront and honest with Jordan along the way,” Gutekunst said earlier this offseason. “There was a lot of information you couldn’t give him, right? And that’s tough on him. But this whole time, these three years that he’s been here, he’s been in a little bit of that situation at times in the offseason because of what was going on, and he’s handled it like a pro, and he’s done it as well through this process, and I appreciate that about him.
“I think he’s going to have a lot of challenges in front of him, but he’s ready and excited to take those on.”