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Mechanics of a draft-day trade: How Packers moved up to take Jordan Love

Jim Owczarski
Packers News

GREEN BAY - As Brian Gutekunst made a bold move to trade up four spots in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft to take Utah State quarterback Jordan Love at No. 26 overall, the ESPN broadcast cut to the camera set up in the home of the Green Bay Packers' general manager. He was smiling, surrounded by his children.

It was a different look and feel for Gutekunst than a normal draft night, but he said the process of sending the No. 30 overall pick and the Packers’ lone fourth-round selection at No. 136 overall to Miami was standard operating procedure.

“I think we went through our normal process where we talked to a lot of teams and areas where we felt we might be able to move up just so we would kind of know what it was going to cost us,” he said on a conference call that stretched into early Friday morning.

That included thinking that moving up from No. 30 may not be necessary after the Los Angeles Chargers sent their second- and third-round picks (Nos. 37 and 71) to New England to take Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray at No. 23.

Jordan Love listens on his headphones as he is drafted by the Green Bay Packers.

“At the time the board was at the point where we felt we were going to stick,” Gutekunst said. “And a few picks later we decided we needed to do something different.”

At No. 24 New Orleans took Michigan interior offensive linemen Carlos Ruiz and at No. 25 San Francisco traded a first (No. 31) a third (No. 117) and a fourth (No. 176) to Minnesota to take wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

It was then that Gutekunst decided to move up to get his man, and he acknowledged feeling other teams may have been ready to leapfrog the Packers to take Love if he stood pat. Seattle general manager John Schneider told Seahawks media he had an agreement with Gutekunst for the Packers to move to No. 27, but then the Miami offer came through.

“As the board fell, it was just the way we kind of had it stacked to be quite honest. It was all about options left and obviously I had a conversation with Miami,” he said. “They called and it seemed like the right thing to do. And giving up a fourth-round pick wasn’t all that much to get up and take a guy that again, we felt pretty strongly about and think has a future.”

According to the oft-cited Jimmy Johnson trade chart (via the www.pro-football-reference.com calculator), the Packers’ No. 30 pick was worth 620 points and the fourth- round pick given up was worth 38 points. The Dolphins' No. 26 pick was worth 700. 

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier didn’t offer up many details during his availability with Miami media, only allowing his process includes calling most teams about moves. And though Gutekunst had not made any formal transactions with the Dolphins in two seasons as the Packers general manager, he had known Grier from their days on the scouting circuit.

On the logistical side, Gutekunst said there were no issues communicating with other teams or his staff.

“I thought I was able to get information,” Gutekunst said. “It’s never going to be like it is in the draft room when you have everybody together in your own facility but I did think this was as good as it possibly could have been.”

As for the general buzz that the Packers had made calls about moving up, Gutekunst said it was likely due to his usual working manner of finding out what moving up in a draft costs.

“I do much better when I have as much information as I can,” he said. “We put a lot of time into that and that sometimes I think creates that buzz. But I think most of us thought we’d stick around 30, maybe move up a few spots if we needed to or move back. You can’t really predict it, but there was no real effort to move way up there to the top of the draft.”