Green Bay Packers, NFL

Matt LaFleur says Aaron Rodgers will be the Packers QB for ‘a long time’

The Green Bay Packers traded up in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft in order to select Aaron Rodgers’ successor Jordan Love. Matt LaFleur claims Love won’t be replacing Rodgers any time soon.

The Green Bay Packers shocked the football world when they traded up to the 26th pick with the Miami Dolphins in order to select their quarterback of the future in Jordan Love. But right now, all eyes are on the team’s future Hall of Fame signal-caller Aaron Rodgers, as the two-time MVP enters a familiar situation he was once drafted into.

Green Bay drafted Rodgers back in 2005 to become the replacement for another future Hall of Fame starter at the time in Brett Favre. Many are already speculating the Packers are following their method of grooming Love the same as Rodgers for a couple of seasons before giving him the reins, but the situations are fundamentally different.

At the time when Rodgers fell into Green Bay’s lap with the 24th pick in the first round, Favre, 35-years-old at the time, had openly expressed his thoughts about retirement. Still, the veteran quarterback announced his return for the 2005 season a month before the draft but gave no indication of what his long-term plans were. Rodgers, 36-years-old now, has done the opposite of his predecessor, while expressing his desire to play indefinitely into his 40s.

The Packers’ thought process back when drafting Rodgers revolved around their concern about Favre’s potential last season in 2005. The first-round pick sat for three years until Green Bay opted to ignore Favre’s indecisiveness on his NFL career after announcing his retirement in 2008 only to return the following summer. Now, general manager Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur are rewriting history, even if their franchise quarterback isn’t pondering his potential exit from the league.

LaFleur’s first comments since drafting Love in the first-round indicate Rodgers’ time in Green Bay isn’t nearing an end any time soon.

“Aaron is a pro, and he’s the leader of our football team, and I anticipate that for a really long time,” the Packers second-year head coach said after the draft. “I have so much respect for him not only as a player but the person, and some of the stuff nobody sees. So I can’t tell you how much I like working with him.”

The head coach was pressed on what he meant when saying Rodgers would be the quarterback for “a really long time.”

“You know how this league works. I know you guys get tired of me saying this, but it’s about getting better each and every day and we’re going to take it week to week,” LaFleur stated. “In my mind, I think Aaron is by far the best quarterback I’ve ever been around. I think he’s the best quarterback to ever play the game. I hope he can play until he decides he doesn’t want to play anymore.”

The Packers head coach endorsing Rodgers as the team’s long-term quarterback is refreshing for a fanbase that saw their team finish one game away from the Super Bowl. But Green Bay inexplicably still put a time frame on their championship window with their fifteen-year veteran quarterback.

Love will have to start for the Packers within three seasons at the latest in order for Green Bay to get a feel for their first-round pick and commit to him as their long-term answer at quarterback. When factoring in the fifth-year option first-rounders carry, Love will have to prove his worth to the team well before the option arises.

Rodgers signed an extension worth $33.5 million per year in August 2018. The thinking at the time when extending the aging veteran was focused on Rodgers following the path of Tom Brady and Drew Brees by playing into his 40s, especially in an era of football that is very protective of quarterbacks. Now, two years later, Green Bay appears to have pivoted from that thinking when the team used a first-round draft pick on a quarterback.

LaFleur and Gutekunst can say all the right things while endorsing Rodgers as the team’s starting quarterback for now and beyond, but the Packers put a time limit on his stay. With an offseason that saw the Los Angeles Chargers moving on from their long-time leader in Philip Rivers, as well as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots parting ways, Rodgers has to start considering that his time in Green Bay is nearing its end.

The Packers endorsed Rodgers to be their quarterback in 2020, and LaFleur quickly attempted to neutralize any talk of the veteran’s clock ticking with the organization. Still, no matter what the head coach says, Green Bay did put a time stamp on Rodgers’ tenure. Either the Packers follow their method when replacing Favre three years after drafting Rodgers, or Green Bay moves on sooner.

The “really long time” sentiment preached by the head coach could mean anything in the business of the NFL. The clock is, in fact, ticking on Rodgers’ stay with the Packers.

Next: Where does Cam Newton go now?

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