Aaron Rodgers said it has "never been about an anthem or flag" as the Green Bay Packers star called for solidarity and change amid protests over George Floyd's death.

Floyd – an African-American man – died in Minneapolis after a police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck during an arrest last week.

Violent protests have broken out across the United States since Floyd's death, during which he was filmed crying out for help as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground.

The situation has turned attention back to Colin Kaepernick and kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest against police brutality and racial inequality, which New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees still does not approve of – a statement that sparked backlash on Wednesday.

Packers counterpart and Super Bowl XLV champion Rodgers used social media to speak out on NFL players protesting.

 

"A few years ago we were criticised for locking arms in solidarity before the game," the two-time MVP wrote on Instagram, posting a picture of himself locking arms with team-mates before a game.

"It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now. Listen with an open heart, let's educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action #wakeupamerica #itstimeforchange #loveoverfear #solidarity #libertyandjusticeforall #all."

Midweek, Saints star Brees angered his team-mate Michael Thomas and other athletes after taking offence to kneeling in front of the USA flag during the anthem.

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said when asked about players kneeling in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

"Let me just tell what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played and when I look at the flag of the United States.

"I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corp. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. So every time I stand with my hand over my heart looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that's what I think about."

Green Bay running back Aaron Jones hopes to be a "lifelong Packer" as he enters the final year of his contract.

Jones, 25, was tied for the most touchdowns scored during the 2019 NFL season with 19, including 16 rushing scores.

Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Jones said he wanted to finish his career with the Packers.

"Whether it's my first year or my last year on a deal, I'm going to be just as motivated," Jones told Green Bay media during a conference call on Wednesday.

"It doesn't change just because a contract is on the line for me. I'm going to continue to work and do everything in my power. I trust my agency and the Packers.

"With that, I would love to be a lifelong Packer."

Jones has played 40 games for the Packers since his debut in 2017, scoring 32 touchdowns.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was surprised when the Packers selected his likely successor in the first round of last month's NFL draft, but he also understands the franchise's future interests.  

Rodgers has made his first public statements since the Packers traded up four spots to draft Utah State quarterback Jordan Love at No. 26 overall three weeks ago.  

"My general reaction at first was surprise, like many people," Rodgers told reporters in a conference call on Friday.

"Not going to say I was thrilled by the pick necessarily, but I understand the organization is thinking not only about the present, but about the future. And I respect that. 

"I understand their focus and their mindset, and obviously they thought that [Love] was such a great talent that they needed to go up and get him."

Many have drawn parallels between how Rodgers entered the league – drafted in the first round in 2005 with Hall of Famer Brett Favre, then 35, still on the roster – to Love's situation behind Rodgers, who is 36.  

Rodgers, however, feels that his situation with Favre was different, given his lengthy flirtations with retirement after the 2003 and 2004 seasons. 

"The goal is for me to play into my 40s – that hasn’t changed," Rodgers said. 

The two-time league MVP had previously said that he hoped to retire as a Packer but said that the decision is not his to make anymore.  

"If I were to retire on the organization's timetable, then it's an easy decision," Rodgers said.

"But if there comes a time where I still feel like I can play at a high level and my body feels great, then other guys have gone on and played elsewhere."

When Rodgers was drafted, Favre said it was not his job to mentor him, and a relationship that was lukewarm at best followed.  

Rodgers foresees a better rapport with Love, adding: "It’s the same that I’ve done with all my backup quarterbacks, and I feel great about those relationships that I’ve developed over the years.

"Many of them are still very close friends. I’ve had great relationships over the years with those guys and expect the same type of relationship with [Love].  

"He didn’t ask to get drafted by the Packers. He’s not to blame at all. He’s just coming in excited about his opportunity. We had a great conversation the day after the draft and I’m excited to work with him."

Green Bay Packers president and chief executive Mark Murphy said the NFL franchise have $385million in their corporate reserve fund to help amid the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc around the world, bringing the NBA, MLS and NHL seasons to a standstill in the United States, while the start of the MLB campaign has been postponed.

The NFL still hopes its season will get underway as scheduled in September, with the Packers due to open their campaign against the Minnesota Vikings.

Green Bay, unlike other NFL teams, are publicly owned and Murphy wrote a letter on Thursday, which read: "We are in a time of great uncertainty.

"We are hopeful that the League season will start on time with full stadiums, but we are also planning for a whole range of contingencies and examining the financial ramifications.

"Fortunately, we have ample resources available [including $385million in our Corporate Reserve Fund] and will be able to weather these difficult times.

Murphy added: "We continue to monitor the available information from public health authorities and will keep you apprised of any decisions that are made.

"Under Badger Bounce Back, Wisconsin's plan to safely reopen the state, we need to reach Phase Three of necessary criteria before we can have a gathering of more than 50 people.

"We know many of you plan trips to Green Bay for the meeting, so we will inform you as soon as we are able."

 

Eli Manning was surprised to see his former Super Bowl rival Tom Brady join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and feels the quarterback will have a tough task adapting.

Following his retirement at the end of the 2019 season, New York Giants great Manning had the opportunity to observe a dramatic free agency at his position.

Brady, the man he beat in two Super Bowls, opted to leave the New England Patriots after 20 years that had produced nine AFC Championships and six Vince Lombardi trophies.

Manning was shocked Brady opted to part with Bill Belichick and hopes the quality of the Bucs' receivers can go at least some way towards easing the 42-year-old's transition.

Brady adapting to life with the Bucs has been made more difficult by the coronavirus impacting offseason activities.

"I was just surprised," Manning said of Brady's move to SiriusXM NFL Radio.

"So much success and still having success and playing at a high level and making playoffs and everything he has done there in New England, [I'm surprised] that there would be a departure. 

"I think it's gonna be tough for him, just the fact he can't be doing everything he wants to be doing with the team and getting ready.

"It will be interesting how it all plays out - how quickly he can just adjust to a new organisation, new players and a new offense, all those new things, especially with the limited timing he's gonna have being with them.

"When you have got talented receivers it makes it easier to get on the same page because they are getting open."

One of the other top QB storylines came in last month's NFL draft, as the Green Bay Packers controversially traded up to select Utah State's Jordan Love in the first round, picking an apparent successor to franchise icon Aaron Rodgers.

Manning is sure Rodgers, who had previously spoken of his desire to finish his career at Green Bay in his 40s, would not have liked the move.

"It was a little bit of deja vu and kinda how it happened with Brett Favre," said Manning.

"When Aaron Rodgers was drafted to Green Bay, obviously they didn't trade up, but they took a quarterback in the first round when Favre was still playing well and had years left of playing. 

"I'm sure Brett wasn't real fond of that happening and I'm sure Aaron wasn't real fond of it happening, especially after going 13-3 and playing good football."

Brett Favre believes Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers will finish his career elsewhere after the team acquired Jordan Love in the NFL Draft.

Many parallels have already been drawn between the Packers drafting Love with the 26th pick on Thursday while already having a franchise quarterback in Rodgers, and when Green Bay picked the latter in 2005 while already boasting future Hall of Famer Favre. 

Like many NFL analysts, Favre was also shocked that a Packers team one game away from reaching last season's Super Bowl opted to find Rodgers' heir apparent as opposed to upgrading their offense. 

"I'll be honest with you, I was very surprised," Favre said on The Rich Eisen Show on Wednesday. "I really thought that they would go in the direction of an offensive weapon. They were several plays from being in the Super Bowl."

Rodgers' current contract runs through the 2021 season, and Favre believes with Thursday's selection of Love, the 36-year-old will now finish his career somewhere other than Green Bay – just like the gunslinger himself. 

"I think he'll play somewhere else," Favre said. "My gut tells me that he won't finish his career as a Green Bay Packer." 

Rodgers – a Super Bowl champion and two-time MVP – was his usual terrific-self last season, earning an eighth Pro Bowl selection while passing for 4,002 yards with 26 touchdowns to just four interceptions to lead Green Bay to a 13-3 record and to the NFC Championship Game. 

The Packers, though, only had one receiver with more than 35 receptions (Davante Adams) in 2019, as their passing game relied heavily on running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams and tight end Jimmy Graham, who is now on the Chicago Bears. 

"Green Bay's one of them that should be playing for now...they don't draft any weapons, not just in the first round but any weapons that can help immediately," Favre said. "That just sends a message of disrespect, I would think, to Aaron Rodgers. He has every right to be disappointed if he is."  

In addition to neglecting an opportunity to improve the offense – Green Bay have actually never used a first-round pick on an offensive skill position player since drafting Rodgers 15 years ago – Favre also fears by drafting a QB, the Packers sent the wrong message to Rodgers and may have done irreversible damage to their relationship. 

"Green Bay's not going anywhere without Aaron Rodgers the next few years if he plays like we expect him to play," Favre said. "They've got a shot with or without a first-round receiver. He's that good. So I would do all I could to not burn that bridge. And I don't think that they did that. I think they burned a bridge. At some point I think it will rear its ugly head."

Aaron Rodgers is "still peaking" and has plenty more to offer in his bid to be rated as one of the NFL's greatest-ever quarterbacks, according to Andrew Brandt.

Former Green Bay executive Brandt, who was with the Packers when they drafted Rodgers in 2005, rejects any notion the 36-year-old is on the decline.

The Packers traded up to draft Utah State's Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 draft, casting doubt over the incumbent QB's long-term future with the franchise.

But Brandt insists Rodgers, who reached the NFC Championship Game last season, is far from finished.

He feels Rodgers will be in the conversation with the likes of six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady when it comes to judging the game's best by the time their careers are over.

Asked by Stats Perform where Rodgers ranks in the debate, Brandt replied: "Oh gosh, it's hard.

"People focus so much on Super Bowls. He has got one, but he has also been to some championship games and obviously the playoffs every year. 

"They have had tough experiences in the playoffs with just heart-breakers, I know with still being a fan and my kids being fans, how tough those losses have been.

"And those losses have not been his fault, a lot of defensive lapses. 

"So had we had a great defense all these years, maybe he has got multiple, Tom Brady-like championships and then you are talking about him in that category.

"But he is certainly up there, and he will be. I'm not of the belief he is on the downhill slide, I believe Aaron Rodgers is still peaking."

With Rodgers at the helm, Brandt backs the Packers to retain the NFC North division title they won last season.

"I am biased, I admit that, but I like their chances," he said. "They won it last year. They are a team that is always there.

"And, let's face it, it is because of Aaron more than any other factor.

"You look at their division, OK it has Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and Mitch Trubisky – but you take Aaron Rodgers, it is pretty simple. So yes, I like their chances."

On drafting him at a time when Brett Favre held the starting job, Brandt added: "Rodgers had all the tools and he became a favourite of ours in the front office.

"A bit like [2020 number one overall pick] Joe Burrow, he had a real calm about him. He never took things too seriously, he was kind of a 'California cool' guy.

"We all took to Aaron early on, but we never knew then what he would become - you never know."

Brandt concedes his praise of Rodgers' level of play creates an apparent conflict with the selection of Love.

"That brings up the question of why draft a quarterback, but you have to be prepared for that eventuality when you need him [Love]," he said.

Aaron Rodgers will only change teams if both he and the Green Bay Packers reach a point where they do not want to continue together, says the team's former executive Andrew Brandt.

Brandt – who was with the Packers when they drafted Rodgers in 2005 at a time Brett Favre was entrenched as the starter – does not believe that situation is imminent.

The debate comes after general manager Brian Gutekunst traded up to take Utah State quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of this year's NFL draft.

Rodgers is 36 but led the Packers to the NFC Championship game last season and has stated his desire to play into his 40s.

Prior to the draft, he also discussed his wish to see out his career in Green Bay, although that goal now looks more uncertain.

There was frustration for Rodgers as the move to land Love was coupled with not picking a single wide receiver despite a historic draft class for that position group.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots appeared to mutually reach a point where they would be willing to start over prior to his move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But Brandt does not think the same situation applies yet for Rodgers and the Packers.

"It doesn't seem like it and obviously his contract goes a few more years," Brandt told Stats Perform about the prospect of Rodgers leaving the team he is synonymous with, as Brady opted to do.

"I think they are still high on him, he is their present. Obviously he is the present and Love is the future.

"But it's the same issue I dealt with 15 years ago when I was hearing from both the Favre camp and the Rodgers camp with the question they both asked me which was, 'When?'

"Favre's camp is asking, 'When are you looking to move me out and bring in Rodgers?' And Rodgers' camp is asking, 'When are you looking to move Brett out and bring me in?'

"You don't have easy answers to that. Maybe it will be different with Jordan Love and Aaron Rodgers, but now there is no time frame. Sometimes these things tend to work themselves out.

"With Tom Brady it just seemed like both sides, the Patriots and Brady, wanted a change. That happened relatively seamlessly because both sides were like, 'OK.'

"Right now it is hard to see the Packers and Rodgers separating, but in a year or two years, who knows?"

Jordan Love has a similar challenge coming out of college to that faced by Patrick Mahomes when he was drafted, according to Stats Perform's Ethan Cooperson.

Research Analyst Cooperson has crunched the numbers and given his verdict on the 2020 NFL Draft.

One of the most controversial selections was the Green Bay Packers trading up to number 26 and picking Utah State quarterback Love.

That move came despite having Aaron Rodgers, one of the game's greats, at quarterback following a season where he took the Packers to the NFC Championship game.

Turnovers are a weakness for Love and he now has a chance to work on his game like Mahomes, who sat behind veteran Alex Smith for all but one game of his rookie season with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mahomes went on to be named the NFL MVP in 2018 and Super Bowl MVP last season as he led the Chiefs to glory.

"Very interesting, I can rank this as both a good and a bad pick," said Cooperson.

"It's pretty fascinating when you look at Love's strange 2019 season, 17 interceptions, it was the most in FBS [Football Bowl Subdivision] and yet he was drafted in the first round. There's a good comparison to make with Mahomes. 

"In Mahomes' last two seasons at Texas Tech, he threw 25 interceptions. That was fourth-most in FBS over those two seasons, 2015 and 2016. 

"So what did the Chiefs do when they drafted him? Brought him in, had him sit out almost the entire 2017 season behind Alex Smith. 

"Love is going to do that for a year, two years, behind Rodgers. What's similar between Smith and Rodgers? They don't throw interceptions.

"Smith is eighth in NFL history for lowest interception percentage, Rodgers is first. So in this sense, this makes a lot of sense. 

"Mahomes has come in and he's been an MVP and a Super Bowl MVP. So maybe Love comes in and he learns the specifics of protecting the football, not throwing interceptions. 

"He follows the path of Mahomes in a perfect world for the Packers. So in that sense, it’s a good move."

Cooperson's main concerns over the pick are whether or not it was a wise use of premium draft resource that could have been used to improve on key weaknesses.

He added: "Green Bay has made the playoffs in 10 of the last 11 years in which Rodgers has been healthy and started at least half of their games. Last year they reached the Conference Championship game. 

"If Rodgers is healthy, Green Bay is in contention. Why wouldn't you, if you're the Packers, focus your draft on improving your run defense?

"Last year they allowed 4.7 yards per carry in the regular season, allowed 285 yards and four rushing touchdowns in the Championship game. 

"Are Green Bay thinking to the future too early? Looking at the numbers, while not everyone is Tom Brady, quarterbacks can play up until they're 40 and still be among the very best. 

"Taking a first-round pick and thinking that he's going to sit for more than two years behind Rodgers... it does seem very strange for a team that very well could be in a position to win now."

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said the clock is not ticking on Aaron Rodgers' time at the NFL franchise following the arrival of quarterback Jordan Love.

The Packers used the 26th pick to select Utah State QB Love in the NFL Draft on Thursday, sparking doubts over Rodgers' long-term future in Green Bay.

Rodgers – who celebrates his 37th birthday in December – is a Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP, two-time NFL MVP and eight-time Pro Bowler, and LaFleur praised the veteran signal-caller.

"Aaron is a pro, and he's the leader of our football team, and I anticipate that for a really long time," LaFleur said on Saturday.

"I have so much respect for him not only as a player but the person, and some of the stuff that nobody sees. So I can't tell you how much I like working with him."

LaFleur added: "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.

"In my mind, I think Aaron is by far the best quarterback I've ever been around. I think he's the best ever to play the game. I hope he can play until he decides he doesn't want to play anymore."

Rodgers played 16 games last season, completing 353 of 569 passes for 4,002 yards, 26 touchdowns and four interceptions as the Packers lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship.

Love experienced a topsy-turvy 2019 season with the Aggies. He threw for 3,402 yards and 20 touchdowns, though he also had 17 interceptions.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst added: "Again, we have one of the best to ever lace them up, and we're shooting for championships for as long as he's here, and we expect him to be here for quite a while.

"Again, Jordan's got to learn, he's got a lot to go. I'm not going to lie, we took him in the first round, if we didn't like him a lot, we wouldn't have done that. But again, the importance of that position to our franchise is just something to me that can't be overlooked."

Former Green Bay Packers executive Andrew Brandt urged fans to "relax" over the surprising draft selection of Aaron Rodgers' heir apparent in Jordan Love.

The most stunning move of Thursday's first round saw the Packers trade up to land Utah State quarterback Love, a physically gifted but raw prospect who has drawn comparisons with Patrick Mahomes. 

The selection was reminiscent of Green Bay picking a sliding Rodgers in 2005 when they had future Hall of Famer Brett Favre entrenched as the starter, a position he would hold onto for the next three years.

Favre initially bristled at the idea of being a mentor to Rodgers, and there is a fear the current incumbent could react to Love's selection with similar frostiness, particularly as the Packers passed on getting him help at receiver in the first round.

However, Brandt - who was with the Packers when the team drafted Rodgers - understands why his old franchise opted for Love.

"It's deja vu -15 years ago I was there and we had the exact same situation," he told Stats Perform.

"We had a quarterback [Favre], who was 35 years old, in his prime, Hall of Fame quarterback, franchise player and yet we took a quarterback [Rodgers] and here they are again.

"The difference is of course that back in 2005, the numbers came to us and we were sitting there and Aaron Rodgers fell to us. This time, the Packers traded up a few spots to go get this player Jordan Love and, pardon the pun, they loved him."

The selection of Love has caused quite a stir, yet Brandt referred to one of Rodgers' own famous phrases in response to that furore.

He added: "This is something where people are going, 'What the heck? And Rodgers? Don't they want to win now?'”

"I guess what I'm trying to tell people is relax. Number one. 

"Number two, they will get help for Rodgers. And number three, they have to secure the future.

"The Packers obviously felt that this was a player that was their top quarterback prospect and they could not get him later in the draft, there's no way.

"So they went and did it and, yes, it does not help them this year, it may not help them next year, it may not help them for quite a while. But I feel like, if they feel like this is the guy, why not get him and let him learn from Aaron?

"Now, in Aaron's case he's sat in the bullpen for three years, that seems like an extraordinarily long time and I don't know if that will happen.

"Jordan Love won't be the quarterback this year, but after that you just don't know. Football moves so much faster than it did 15 years ago."

While teams select players in the first round of the NFL Draft hoping they will be game-changers, rosters are built on day two.

The Cincinnati Bengals opened the 2020 draft on Thursday by picking who they hope will be their franchise quarterback for the next decade. They opened round two on Friday by getting Joe Burrow a weapon, drafting Tee Higgins with the 33rd pick.

Twenty picks later came the biggest story of the second round with the Philadelphia Eagles grabbing Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts at number 53.

Hurts led Alabama to back-to-back national championship games as a freshman and sophomore before famously being benched for Tua Tagovailoa, and then led the Sooners to a Big 12 title this past season as a senior while garnering third-team AP All-American honors. He is a dynamic dual-threat quarterback that now joins an Eagles offense that is already led by an established QB in Carson Wentz.

Hurts ended up being the only quarterback selected on day two after both Jacob Eason from Washington and Jake Fromm from Georgia were passed over.

Higgins' selection continued the trend from the first round of wide receivers being gobbled up. After six receivers were drafted in the first round, seven went in the second. The 13 receivers selected in the first two rounds are the most taken through two rounds in draft history, breaking the record of 12 from 2014.

Higgins had 25 touchdown catches over the past two seasons with Clemson, the most by an ACC player in a two-year span since North Carolina State's Torry Holt had 27 from 1997-98.

One pick after Higgins was drafted, the Indianapolis Colts picked USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who tied for the FBS lead last season with four games of 10 or more receptions.

A run on running backs was expected for day two after only one went in the first round, and it did not take long for the first one to be selected, with the Detroit Lions taking Georgia's D'Andre Swift at number 35.

After playing behind Nick Chubb and Sony Michel as a freshman in 2017, Swift amassed 2,267 rushing yards in his final two years with the Bulldogs. He averaged 6.55 yards per carry in his collegiate career, second best in SEC history behind Bo Jackson's 6.62 (minimum 400 carries).

Six picks later, the Colts continued to build their offense, selecting three-time All-American running back Jonathon Taylor out of Wisconsin. In just three seasons, Taylor rushed for 6,174 yards and his average of 150.6 rushing yards per game are the third most by a major conference player all time, behind O.J. Simpson (164.4) and Herschel Walker (159.4).

Three more backs were selected before the end of the second round with the Los Angeles Rams taking Florida State's Cam Akers at number 52, the Baltimore Ravens drafting J.K. Dobbins from Ohio State at 55 and the Green Bay Packers selecting Boston College's AJ Dillon at 62.

Not technically listed as a running back, though he carried the ball plenty of times at Kentucky, All-American Lynn Bowden was one of the more interesting picks of day two when he was selected with the 80th overall pick by the Las Vegas Raiders. 

The do-it-all playmaker started at receiver and quarterback as a junior in 2019, running the wildcat offense at QB, finishing the season with 1,468 rushing yards and 13 rushing TDs as well as 348 receiving yards. It will be intriguing to see how he will be used in Jon Gruden's offense. 

While the 2020 draft kicked off with Burrow being selected out of LSU, linebacker Jacob Phillips became the 10th player chosen from LSU when he was picked by the Cleveland Browns at number 97. The 10 players out of LSU are the most from one school through three rounds in the history of the draft.

The third round concluded with the Baltimore Ravens selecting guard Tyre Phillips out of Mississippi State. He became the 15th player out of the SEC selected in the third round after 10 SEC players were drafted in the second, a day after a record 15 first-round picks came from the SEC.

Jordan Love revealed he had spoken to Aaron Rodgers and hopes to learn from the quarterback after being drafted by the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers traded up to take Utah State QB Love with the 26th overall pick in the NFL Draft on Thursday.

Love, 21, said on Friday he had spoken to Rodgers, a two-time NFL MVP and a Super Bowl champion.

"I was able to talk with him earlier, really good guy, just congratulated me," he told ESPN.

"I just let him know I'm excited to be able to work with him."

Love added: "I mean it's a lot of things to be able to learn. I'm just going to take it step by step and just try and get behind him and learn everything that he's doing and just try and understand the process."

Touted as Rodgers' long-term replacement at Green Bay, Love was excited to be drafted.

"It's been a crazy journey for me, one with a lot of ups and downs," he said.

"It's an exciting time for me and my family to be able to experience this."

Quarterbacks were always going to be the focus in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Joe Burrow went first to the Cincinnati Bengals, while Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert ended up going with back-to-back picks to the Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Chargers respectively.

Jordan Love was the other QB to be selected on Thursday but few predicted his NFL landing spot, the Green Bay Packers jumping up to take the 21-year-old with pick number 26.

The selection surprised many; this is the same Green Bay Packers who already has Aaron Rodgers on their roster, a player who knows all about waiting in the wings.

THE PAST

During the opening round of the 2005 NFL Draft, Rodgers sat in the green room and waited. He waited, and waited, and waited.

Alex Smith – the other leading quarterback prospect in the class – did not have to wait long to hear his name called, selected first overall by the San Francisco 49ers.

Pick after pick went by as Rodgers' slide continued. Eventually, the Green Bay Packers ended his agony at 24.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Rodgers is a two-time NFL MVP who steered the franchise to glory at Super Bowl XLV. He had to bide his time before taking over as starter in Green Bay, learning his trade behind Brett Favre for three seasons, and a 6-10 record in his first campaign on the job in 2008 was a rocky start. However, the Packers have made the playoffs in nine of the 11 seasons since.

He has thrown for 46,946 yards in the league, with 364 touchdowns to 84 interceptions, and there were few signs last season to suggest his skills are on the decline.

His 2019 numbers were around his career averages for completion percentage (62 to 64.6 overall) and yards per attempt (7 to 7.7), despite being without leading receiver Davante Adams for four games. Rodgers has a reputation for spectacular throws but is far from reckless; he has not reached double figures for picks in a campaign since throwing 11 in 2010. 

THE PRESENT

As the first round of the draft unfolded, Rodgers may well have watched on and waited to see who would become his new team-mate. The Packers went 13-3 under new head coach Matt LaFleur last season, losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game.

Perhaps he hoped for an extra offensive weapon, another wide receiver to work opposite the outstanding Adams maybe, to help him out. Instead, he saw the Packers take his potential replacement – and they traded up to do so, too.

Green Bay caused a stir when they swapped positions with the Miami Dolphins – as well as giving up a fourth-round pick – to select Love, a prospect with potential but also with questions to answer after a difficult final season at Utah State.

In 2018, Love led the Aggies to an 11-2 record and threw 32 touchdowns. Last season, however, he regressed by the raw numbers, with a 7-6 campaign blighted by turnover issues (20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions).

Using Stats Perform's advanced metrics, Love's final season at college saw him average 7.19 yards per throw – ranking him 70th for quarterbacks who had at least 250 pass attempts – a surprisingly low number for a player with a reputation for owning a big arm.

He struggled in third-down situations, completing 54 per cent of his passes, and finished at 63.4 per cent for hitting open receivers, numbers well below the other QBs selected in round one.

THE FUTURE

When a team with hopes of contending in 2020, and with a superstar at the position under contract until 2023, moves up to draft a quarterback, it will undoubtedly raise eyebrows.

What does this mean for Rodgers? And how will he react to the decision taken by team management, who opted for long-term planning over short-term thinking?

General manager Brian Gutekunst played down the significance of Love's impending arrival in a post-draft interview, declaring Rodgers to be the "best quarterback in the National Football League", while calling him a "pro's pro" who is "very, very motivated".

That level of motivation may well have gone up a notch now, though, as the Packers have seemingly served notice that they are contemplating a life without Rodgers.

Gutekunst also admitted there is some "rawness" to Love. While Green Bay had not pre-planned the choice, as their GM revealed to the media, the decision to move up to get him demonstrated their desire to get him.

For Love, going to Green Bay offers a chance to sit and learn from one of the best in the business. Rodgers, of course, knows all about that.

Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL and the Green Bay Packers plan to "have him for a while" despite drafting Jordan Love, according to general manager Brian Gutekunst.

As expected, quarterbacks Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert came off the board early in Thursday's opening round, with the trio all taken inside the top six picks.

However, the Packers caused a surprise late on when they traded up to select Utah State signal-caller Love with the 26th pick, raising questions over their long-term commitment to the current starter on the team.

Rodgers turns 37 during the 2020 season but Gutekunst insists the two-time MVP understands the situation, particularly as he was drafted in a similar position in 2005, serving as back-up to Brett Favre for three years before taking over the job.

"Aaron's been around a long time and knows what we're playing for right now," Gutekunst said on a media conference call.

"We have the best quarterback in the National Football League and we plan to have him for a while competing for championships.

"I think he'll be a pro's pro. He's playing for legacy type things, historic-type stuff. I know he's very, very motivated."

Love experienced a see-saw 2019 season with the Aggies. He threw for 3,402 yards and 20 touchdowns, though he also had 17 interceptions.

Gutekunst revealed that the Packers had not gone into the opening round with the intention of taking a quarterback, with the move only made because Love was still available.

"This was not something we set out to do," Gutekunst said. "He just happened to be a guy we liked who fell to us, and this was the best decision."

 

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