The 2023 Green Bay Packers draft class is set, with 13 players selected in the seven rounds to join the team. Following the NFL Draft, the Packers signed many undrafted free agents as well. The deadline to pick up the fifth-year option for 2020 first-round picks came quickly, with the cut-off date today. This meant Green Bay had to make a decision on the Jordan Love contract.
Would the Packers pick up the Jordan Love fifth-year option? GM Brian Gutekunst had recently said that $20 million would be a lot to pay someone who hasn’t played, so we assumed the Packers would decline the option and make 2023 a prove-it season for the first-year starter.
The Packers did decline the Jordan Love fifth-year option, but only because they decided to sign a one-year extension to the Jordan Love contract worth up to $22.5 million.
What is an NFL 5th-Year Option?
The 2020 CBA changed multiple things in the NFL, especially with the draft. Now, first-round NFL draft picks have a fifth-year team option built into the contract. The value of this team option is dependent on the player’s position, draft placement, performance benchmarks and usage benchmarks.
This is the NFL fifth-year option rules and value breakdown.
- Two-time Pro Bowlers receive the equivalent of their position’s franchise tag
- One-time Pro Bowlers receive the equivalent of their position’s transition tag
- Players who achieve any of the following get the average of the third-20th highest salaries at their position:
- 75% snap rate in two of their first three seasons
- A 75% snap average across all three seasons
- 50% in each of their three seasons
- Players who do not hit any of these benchmarks receive the average of the third-25th top salaries at their position.
How Much Would the Jordan Love 5th-Year Opton Be Worth?
So, how much would the Jordan Love fifth-year option be worth compared to a contract extension?
Love was the 26th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Obviously, he has not made a Pro Bowl or hit the snap rate benchmarks. As a result, the Jordan Love fifth-year option would have been worth an average of the top-25th top quarterback salaries, which is roughly $20.27 million.
By picking up the option, the Green Bay Packers would have fully guaranteed this amount to Love in the 2024 NFL season.
Why Did the Packers Extend the Jordan Love Contract?
So, why did the Green Bay Packers decide to extend the Jordan Love contract instead of simply picking up his fifth-year option? This is actually a business decision that has benefits for both parties.
For the Packers, picking up the fifth-year option is a poor decision. If Love is terrible, the team is screwed in 2024 because he is locked in for over $20 million. Simply declining the option could hurt the relationship with the player they believe will be the future franchise quarterback. Instead, they decide to extend Love one year and only guarantee $13.5 million. So, if Love is terrible, the cap hit doesn’t fully cripple the team.
As for Jordan Love, the new contract extension gives him the opportunity to make more money. He gets to bet on himself and earn more money. If he hit certain performance benchmarks, the new Jordan Love contract can be worth up to $22.5 million, which is a couple extra million.
Was This the Best Option?
Now, did the Packers handle this the right way? Only time will reveal the true answer. However, declining the fifth-year option would have put some pressure on the first-year starter this season, which would have been nice to see.
In my opinion, let’s put the pressure on Jordan Love and see if he can handle it. Truly, he has never been under that much pressure. He was a high school quarterback, played in the Mountain West conference for a team that wasn’t going anywhere, then he backed up Aaron Rodgers. Not only do we not know if he can play, but we don’t know if he can handle pressure, which is the x-factor needed to win a Super Bowl.
If Love cracked under the pressure, then the Packers would be free from his contract next offseason and presumably have two first-round draft picks, which they could use to trade up and draft one of the top prospects. If Love turned out to be great, then extend him for big money. In my opinion, this would have been the best route to take, but the Packers did not make the worst decision, thankfully.