Packers GM Brian Gutekunst, top pick Jordan Love speak with Aaron Rodgers
GREEN BAY - It wasn’t until after drafting Aaron Rodgers’ apparent heir that Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst spoke with his quarterback about the decision, but the two did have a conversation after Thursday’s first round.
Gutekunst would not divulge any details of their discussion, and barely even characterized its substance, only to say he left the talk believing Rodgers doesn’t have a problem with first-round quarterback Jordan Love’s arrival.
“I don’t think so,” Gutekunst said Friday when asked if Rodgers’ response to the Packers drafting Love would be a problem. “He’s always been a true pro, a pro’s pro, and a really, really good teammate. I know what his goals are, so I don’t (anticipate it being an issue).”
Rodgers did the good-teammate thing Friday, reaching out to Love to congratulate the 21-year-old quarterback on being drafted. Love apparently was impressed with the conversation.
“Yeah, I was able to talk with him earlier,” Love told ESPN. “You know, really good guy. You know … just congratulating me, and I was just letting him know that I was excited to be able to work with him.”
The two quarterbacks are only on the cusp of forming their new relationship as teammates. It’s too early to know how that relationship will go. Rodgers memorably had a frosty relationship early in his career with predecessor Brett Favre. Over the years, the two have developed more of a kinship.
Still, there could be awkward moments ahead. That awkwardness started with the blowback Gutekunst received Friday among his fan base after making the pick. Gutekunst said he has been unaffected by criticism of trading up in the first round to take Love.
“To be honest with you,” Gutekunst said, “… I probably am a little bit further away from that. I mean, I certainly knew there wouldn’t — when we made the decision — that there would probably be people that, just because how the, they would look at it as not an immediate need for us. So they might react to it. But, yeah, I think inside the building, I didn’t feel that. I know that fans and stuff like that may look at it as a long-term decision.
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Gutekunst added: “I’ve been in this business long enough. It’s funny the reaction, especially to the draft, free agency, I saw Ted (Thompson) for years, people were just all over him about the drafts and free agency. Really what matters to me is the team we put out there each fall and how they do. That’s what I’m concerned with, Packers fans approving not necessarily how we go about getting there.”
Gutekunst said he believes the reaction has been overblown, especially with how it relates to Rodgers’ role on the team. Love’s arrival doesn’t change what Rodgers means to the Packers, Gutekunst said.
“I know there’s a lot been made about us drafting a quarterback in the first round and how it affects Aaron,” Gutekunst said, “and in my mind it doesn’t really affect him that much. He’s still the quarterback of this team, and he will be for a while, and we’ll hopefully compete for championships. But I think like anything, you do the work, you set the board, you’ve got to trust your work and allow that to kind of speak to you a little bit.”