Starting today, Aaron Rodgers is officially holding out from the Green Bay Packers. Tuesday marked the first day of mandatory minicamp workouts in Wisconsin and Rodgers, predictably, is not present. The organization is now within their contractual rights to fine Rodgers up to $93,058 for not attending, if they so choose.
It seems unlikely they will, though. They can consider the reigning MVP's absence "excused" and give themselves another few weeks of negotiation to try and bring Rodgers back into the fold. Once training camp starts in late July, the Packers will be mandated by the NFL to fine Rodgers for not being present. Until then, though, they can keep it cordial with the disgruntled superstar and continue to try and work something out.
In the meantime, it's Jordan Love Szn. Love was the team's first-round pick in 2020 and his selection is almost certainly one of the catalysts that led us to this situation. Reports about his play from last summer were not encouraging, and the general consensus was that he has a long way to go before reaching the early stages of his potential.
This summer, though, Love's value to the team is much more than merely a possible quarterback of the future. He's a bargaining chip in the Rodgers talks. If worst comes to worst and Green Bay really cannot convince their longtime QB and future Hall of Famer to play for them in 2021, they will change course and insist they're very confident in Love's ability to lead the team to contention this year. It's really their only choice from a PR perspective. Acknowledging otherwise not only lets everyone know the kind of power Rodgers holds over the franchise, but also exposes the Love pick as an organizational failure. Because what's the point of trading up to draft a QB in the first round if they can't step up in this exact situation?
All that is to say that anything coming out of the Packers camp will spin Love in a positive light, no matter what. That process has already begun. Earlier this summer, the Packers had OTAs and Love has made exciting progress since last season, according to head coach Matt LeFleur:
“I think you can tell he put some work in this offseason on his own,” LaFleur said Tuesday. “The ball is really jumping out of his hand well right now.”
LaFleur added: “We’re excited about some of the progress we’ve seen with him, but certainly there’s a long way to go there.”
ESPN penned an article titled "Packers' Jordan Love shows signs of progress even without top receivers" after these OTA periods, published May 27. As a reminder, these are non-contact, usually run at half-speed with no pads, and missing more than a few starters on both sides of the ball. Love's teammates made sure to show him some love (haha!) when speaking to reporters, leading to this paragraph:
Love might not be the Green Bay Packers' ideal choice to start when the regular season opens on Sept. 12 at the New Orleans Saints -- and the Packers still hope they can lure back the disenchanted Aaron Rodgers and not have to play Love this season. But the quarterback who ran what was left of the No. 1 offense this week during OTAs looked much different than the third-stringer who crawled through his rookie season in 2020.
Then today, the first day where Love is the undisputed No. 1 due to the circumstances, NFL Network ran the below segment featuring Tom Pelissero about the Rodgers situation and how much better Love looks than last year.
I'm not here to say that any of the above reports and observations are untrue. In fact, I would imagine Love definitely looks a lot better after a year spent on an NFL sideline as Rodgers' understudy. Especially given that the 2020 rookie class entered the league under more difficult circumstances than any rookie class before them. And nobody, whether it's a reporter or a team employee, is implying that the Packers would be just fine rolling with Love instead of Rodgers and all his greatness.
But this is what we're going to hear for the next two months, folks. Until the Packers either get Rodgers back or decide he's a lost cause, it'll be cautious optimism from every public-facing podium Green Bay has. We're probably only a few weeks away from team sources telling reporters that management is fine rolling with Love to create the perception of leverage over Rodgers.
So get comfortable. Whether you buy it or not, we're all going to be subject to various reports about the positive development of Jordan Love for the foreseeable future.