We are two—yes, count ‘em, two—starts into the NFL career of Packers quarterback Jordan Love, but already, there’s talk of him following in the footsteps of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who set an NFL record last week by agreeing to a five-year contract extension worth $275 million, an astronomical amount for a 26-year-old who has never won a Super Bowl or earned an All-Pro honor.
When surveying the NFL landscape for quarterbacks who could top Burrow in the near future, ESPN earmarked Love as one of five slated for a big payday—maybe even a Burrow-level deal.
Some of the others on the list appear more likely than Love to reap a major pay raise in the coming year, including the Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa (if he can stay healthy), the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott (if Dallas can finally win this year), the Lions’ Jared Goff and the guy most likely to shatter any contract records in front of him, Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs.
Love’s Week 1 performance in topping the Bears was impressive, as he threw for 245 yards on 15-for-27 passing with three touchdowns and a league-best 123.2 rating, but was it a $60 million, most-money-in-the-league kind of showing?
Could be a precursor to that, at least.
Here’s what ESPN insider Dan Graziano wrote on Love’s situation: “It’s a make-or-break season for the 2020 first-round pick in his first year as a starter, which is a heck of a position for a player to find himself in.
“Fortunately for Love, he plays for one of the league’s most patient and long-range-thinking organizations, and the Packers will probably do right by him even if he didn’t do anything to give himself any control over the situation when he could have. He started the season with three touchdown passes in a win over the Bears.”
Love Signed ‘Terrible’ Extension in May
Graziano is referring to Love’s decision to sign an extension this spring, when the Packers had to decide whether to pick up his option. Rather than forcing the Packers into a difficult decision that might have hamstrung the organization’s salary cap in 2024, Love got more money ($8.8 million signing bonus) up front this year, a smaller guarantee for next year ($5.5 million, plus a $500,000 workout bonus) in a deal loaded with about $9 million in incentives.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder on whether that was a smart move by Love or not—he got more money in the short term, and considering he’d had one career start, there’s some wisdom in taking that money. Love would have been a knee or Achilles injury away from possibly never having the chance to cash in on his NFL career.
Still, Graziano labeled it a, “terrible, below-market ‘extension’ that amounted to … a massive favor to the Packers.” SI’s Albert Breer, when first reporting details of the contract, labeled it, “Pretty fair deal all the way around.”
Super Bowl Beckons Rookie-Contract QBs
Part of the problem the Packers have with keeping Love on the bench for three seasons behind Aaron Rodgers is that the team has a very limited window of building a roster while Love is on his rookie deal. He will be eligible for a fat, new extension next year.
NFL teams very much enjoy having quarterbacks who have success early in their careers because they can spend heavily on the rest of the roster while other teams are dropping $30 million, $40 million and now $50 million on a quarterback.
In fact, the last five Super Bowls, going back to Jared Goff and the Rams in 2019, one of the teams has had a quarterback on a rookie deal (Mahomes in 2020 and 21, Burrow in 2022 and Philly’s Jalen Hurts in 2023).
And who knows, maybe Love can make it six in a row. If he is already in line to surpass Burrow’s paycheck after two career NFL starts, then anything is possible.