The Green Bay Packers are still hoping franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have a change of heart and return to lead their team for the 2021 season, but even his departure might not automatically award Jordan Love his job.
Oddsmakers at SportsBetting.com are convinced that two other quarterbacks have a better chance of being the Packers’ starting quarterback in Week 1 than Love in the event that Rodgers is traded, giving edges to both Drew Lock (+300) and Derek Carr (+400) over Green Bay’s 2020 first-round pick (+500).
The reason, of course, is the Broncos (+200) and Raiders (+900) are the two teams considered most likely to make a deal for Rodgers if the Packers cannot resolve their dispute with him and eventually begin taking calls on trade offers. Both teams also have two game-tested quarterbacks on their rosters with Lock and Teddy Bridgewater in Denver and Carr and Marcus Mariota in Las Vegas, meaning it would be a near-guarantee that one would head to Green Bay in any deal for Rodgers.
The betting odds also favor Rodgers not taking the Packers’ first snap of the 2021 regular season (implying a 60% chance he won’t) and are split evenly on whether the reigning NFL MVP will retire before their Week 1 matchup in New Orleans.
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If Rodgers Goes, Packers Will Need QB Help
The Packers are four months away from their first regular-season game of the 2021 season and still have plenty of time to ensure Rodgers remains their starting quarterback. According to Ian Rapoport, they have made him a “significant, long-term” contract offer, while Gutekunst has maintained an “optimistic” outlook on the two sides being able to reach a peaceful resolution to their troubles.
If Rodgers is dug into his stance on not coming back to Green Bay, though, the Packers will have to think hard about how to approach their quarterback position moving forward.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 10, 2021
Gutekunst and Packers head coach Matt LaFleur have maintained confidence in Love since his selection, but he didn’t play a single snap in his rookie season and won’t get his first live-ball opportunity until this summer’s preseason games. Even if Love has given them reasons for confidence behind the scenes, it would be quite the gamble for them to put all of their chips on him alone.
The Packers are bringing in free-agent quarterbacks Chad Kelly and Kurt Benkert for tryouts this weekend during their rookie minicamp, but both are likely being assessed as options at QB3 behind Rodgers and Love for training camp. More talent and experience would be a must if the Packers lost 13 years of starting experience in a Rodgers trade, hence why oddsmakers believe another passer would be involved in any trade for Rodgers this offseason.
Would Lock Actually Beat Out Love as QB1?
The odds favoring Carr over Love for the Week 1 starting job are sensible for bettors who believe Rodgers will get traded. If we think hypothetically about what the Raiders — who were one of three teams on Rodgers’ reported “wish list” of preferred trade destinations — would have to offer to land the reigning NFL MVP, it is hard to imagine any scenario where the package doesn’t include sending Carr to Green Bay.
Carr is also an established 30-year-old veteran with numerous complete seasons as a starter on his record. The only obvious advantage Love would possess is knowing the Packers’ playbook after spending 2020 as a “redshirt” learner of the system.
Love, however, stands a much better chance of beating out Lock if Rodgers were instead traded to the Broncos. Maybe the Packers would be more interested in getting Bridgewater on a one-year, $3 million commitment, but Lock is even more affordable for a longer stretch of time, making him both the financial and competitive favorite in a hypothetical Denver trade.
Much like Love must still live up to his first-round selection when he receives his first opportunity with the Packers, Lock heads into 2021 looking to prove himself better than his second NFL season last year, in which he threw almost as many interceptions (15) and he did touchdowns (16) across 13 starts for the Broncos. It was a far cry from the promise he displayed at the end of 2019 when he helped the Broncos go 4-1 while completing 100 of his 156 passes for 1,020 yards with seven touchdowns and just three interceptions.
To imply Lock would win a training-camp battle against Love is a bit bold for the oddsmakers. Then again, there’s a reason why it’s called gambling.