Gutekunst candid about Love’s fifth-year option

Brian Gutekunst believes Jordan Love’s fifth-year option is “a lot of money for a guy who hasn’t played,” which leads Mike Florio and Chris Simms examine how the Packers are approaching the situation.

Video Transcript

- So now there's a clean slate. Now--

- Now there is.

- --it's a new day.

- Yeah.

- Now there's a quarterback there. I'm going somewhere with this, though. Because the front office has already commenced the process of pissing off the next quarterback as evidenced by the comments publicly from Packer's GM Brian Gutekunst about something that we just assumed they would do, pick up the fifth year option on Jordan Love. He hasn't had a chance to play for you to say we don't want him.

You've cleared out Aaron Rodgers. So you can hand him the ball and say go do it. He's got one year left on his rookie contract.

Surely, you're picking up the fifth year option. Please don't call me Shirley. Here's Brian Gutekunst explaining that maybe they won't pick up the option. Have a listen.

BRIAN GUTEKUNST: Yeah, I've got to figure that out by Tuesday, I guess. Yeah, but we're kind of still working through that. We've been so focused on the draft. We've had some preliminary conversations. But we'll get to that before Tuesday.

- What would be the reason not to do it?

BRIAN GUTEKUNST: Again, I got to get through that. It's a lot of money for a guy who hasn't played. But at the same time, obviously, we're moving forward with him. So we'll figure that out by Tuesday.

- Yeah, I mean, certain things I don't think you say out loud, especially when you've got a recent history of a bad relationship with your starting quarterback. It's a lot of money for a guy who hasn't played. The reason he hasn't played is because you drafted him into a situation where you had a guy who became a two-time MVP then played for another year. And what's he going to do?

What's he going to do? Win the job? What's he going to do? Beat out Aaron Rodgers?

He hasn't played because you drafted him into a situation where he wasn't going to play. And this idea-- and I'm sorry, Brian. I'm doing this-- doing a post-draft GM interview series. And I made a request for [INAUDIBLE] probably not going to get a yes after I say this.

What are you doing waiting until the last frickin' day to decide what you're going to do with this fifth year option? You mean to tell me you got no inkling? You got no idea?

You've done no research? You've given--

- I don't buy that.

- --no thought whatsoever to whether or not you're going to pick it up? So why? I mean, but what's the point?

I understand strategic lying. I don't understand just this casual, oh, I've been so busy with everything else. I haven't even thought about it.

What do you mean you haven't thought about it? I mean, that tells me the answer's no. They're not going to pick it up. We're leaning that way.

- Right. Right.

- That's what it tells me.

- I would agree with that. I would definitely agree with that. I think that they thought this has been thought out. He knew the answer there. For whatever reason, they didn't want to say it yesterday. Or, they want to bring it down to the deadline to make it look like they're hemming and hawing over it.

I don't know. Should we? Ha.

I don't know. Maybe we should. All right, so that's what I-- but no way are they doing it. And honestly, you you're right.

I mean, they put them in this situation. But I wouldn't give him the fifth year option either. Hey, Daniel Jones, like we saw last year, we don't know what he is yet. I'm not committing 20 plus million dollars two years down the road to this guy.

You're going to have to play the angle a little bit of like what the Giants did with Daniel Jones. Hey, we drafted you. Hey, we like you.

Hey, we know what you are. You really want to go somewhere else and just start at the bottom again and try to work your way there? We believe in you here.

We've made you the starter. We pushed Aaron Rodgers out the door. So they have that in there bag of tricks in their corner, or whatever you want to say there, to placate Jordan Love when it's all said and done. He knows he's at a spot here where he can be the man.

And there's no other spot in football right now that he can do that. So I don't think they exercised the fifth-year option. And I could see it being, hey, he has-- if he does have a good year, then they figure something out on another one-or-two year deal just to kind of buy a little more time to evaluate him or whatever else. And then they go from there.

- Well, probably a four or five-year deal masquerading--

- Maybe.

- --as a one or a two-year deal--

- Yeah, exactly.

- --or vice versa, or one or two masquerading as four or five just like Daniel Jones. They can pull the plug on him. Seahawks can pull the plug on Geno Smith.

But the Union gets criticized a lot for the quality of the CBAs that it negotiates. And people always gloss over the fact that at the end of the day, the rank and file aren't going to walk out the door. They're not going to take a lockout that goes into the regular season. They're not going to strike that goes into the regular season. That ship sailed during dad's career.

That's just not in the toolkit for the Union. So they do the best deals they can, knowing that the nuclear option is never going to happen. Actually, the full blown nuclear option is go out and set up your own games, which will never happen either. But that's the ultimate counter to replacement players is we're going to replace the league.

My point is this, against that backdrop, it's hard to get great terms if you're the Union. One of the great terms they got in 2020 was that the fifth-year option is now fully guaranteed upon exercise. It used to be guaranteed for injury upon exercise, fully guaranteed first day of the league year when it's due to be earned. That's why once upon a time, the Jaguars worked out a deal with Blake Bortles on a short-term contract because they went to him and said, we're not paying you this fifth-year option.

We're just not going to do it. We're just going to cut you. Here's the-- or else, here's the offer we'll make you on a contract to keep you around. Of course, they eventually cut him anyway.

But this now makes it less likely that teams exercise the option. And that's good for the player. It's good for Jordan Love because even though he doesn't have that injury protection that he would have had in the past, because I think in the past, they'd pick it up. They'd pick it up. It's injury only. We'll pick it up. We could always cut him after the year.

- That's right.

- It puts him in that spot where he's now in a contract year. Next year, he's an unrestricted free agent. And the Packers will have that limited window of exclusive negotiating like the Giants have with Daniel Jones. And they'll have the leverage of the franchise tag.

But it's going to be a $15 million gamble. Last year, it was about 10 for the Giants. Where the salary cap is going and where this number is it's about 15 million that the Packers are putting at risk here if they have to go franchise tag next year with Jordan Love. And good problem to have.

- Yeah, I think that's good too.

- The only good problem to have is no problem. It's a good problem, but it's still a problem.

- It is. That's right. It's still a problem.

But you know, I think it's one where if they were evaluating right now and they went, hey, no fifth-year option, and damn, he played good enough that we were going, man, we got a franchise tag-in and work out a long-term deal or something like that, I think you're right. They'd still go, hey, we'll take it from where we were at in the situation we were in with Rodgers and everything there.

So we'll see where we go. And you know, again, there's support there. He does look very calm on the field. I've never felt like he was flustered.

We saw last year that and then the coming together of the skills that we all thought the guy had coming out of Utah State there. You see he's a big guy. Man, he's got big hands.

He throws the ball easy. It spins nice. It's a pretty spiral.

So we'll see. And then they're a team that doesn't have to depend on him as we know. They should be able to run the ball and play a complete team full game there to where they don't need him to throw it 42 times a game for 380 yards. So we'll see where that goes. But I'm hopeful for Jordan Love and the Packers in general because, like you said, the NFC, the NFC North is not that deep. And I think that team is better than people are giving it credit for right now, sitting here in the spring of '23.