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Zulgad: Vikings and their fans should be in Love with Packers’ plan at quarterback

When Aaron Rodgers takes the first snap of the season, whenever that might be, it will mark 28 years of a Hall of Fame or future Hall of Fame quarterback starting for the Green Bay Packers. Brett Favre made his first start for the Packers on Sept. 27, 1992 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and 16 years later Rodgers took over.

While Rodgers has no desire of retiring anytime soon, his time under center with the Packers is nearing an end and that has to be considered good news for the Vikings. The Packers surprised many, including Rodgers, when they elected to trade up in the first round of the draft last month in order to select Utah State’s Jordan Love with the 26th pick.

That fueled speculation regarding how the 36-year-old Rodgers would feel about having his successor on the roster and Favre only added to that in the interviews he did. But Rodgers did not address the media until Friday when he made his thoughts known on a conference call. Rodgers did everything in his power to take the high road when talking about the Love pick, acknowledging it wasn’t Love’s decision to come to Green Bay, just as it wasn’t Rodgers’ decision to go to the Packers in the 2005 draft.

“(I’m) not going to say I was thrilled by the pick necessarily, but I understand the organization is thinking about the future and the present,” Rodgers said.

Near the end of the call, however, ESPN reporter Rob Demovsky got Rodgers to open up in a way that made it clear the veteran’s time in Green Bay is almost certain to come before he’s ready to call it quits. And, unlike Favre, Rodgers hasn’t made it a habit of talking about walking away on a yearly basis.

Those are the words of a man who knows his time with a team is nearing an end.

Rodgers’ contract runs for four more years and if he’s going to play into his 40s that means he’s likely going to want another contract when this one is done. According to ESPN, if the Packers move on from Rodgers after the 2020 season they would save only $4.76 million in salary-cap space and have $31.556 million in dead money. It gets easier to move on after 2021, when Green Bay would save $22.648 million in cap space but would still have $17.204 million in dead money.

Rodgers sat for three seasons behind Favre, but it seems unlikely Green Bay will force Love to do the same. Is Love destined to be the Packers’ next great quarterback? That seems unlikely. At some point, their fortune has to run out. Former general manager Ron Wolf’s trade with the Falcons for Favre was a genius move, but Rodgers fell to the 24th pick in the first round of his draft before then-new Packers GM Ted Thompson felt as if he had no choice but to stop the free fall.

Since Favre’s first start with the Packers, the Vikings have had 26 quarterbacks make starts for them, including Favre in 2009 and 2010. The Packers have had six starting quarterbacks in the same time and Favre and Rodgers have missed a combined 16 games. All of those have been since Rodgers inherited the starting role. Green Bay has been to three Super Bowls and won two in that time with Favre and then Rodgers.

But coming off a 13-3 finish and loss in the NFC title game last season, it’s clear the Packers are preparing for a change.¬†Will Rodgers attempt to force his way to Minnesota in a few years after Kirk Cousins’ time in purple is done to try to get the type of revenge that Favre did in 2009? That remains to be seen, although it wouldn’t be shocking.

That’s something that doesn’t currently concern the Vikings or their fans. What does is seeing the Packers’ streak of great quarterback play come to an end and for the first time in a long time that end appears to be near.



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