GM Brian Gutekunst wants to surround Aaron Rodgers with good players but won’t rule out taking QB

The Green Bay Packers do their homework on every draft-eligible quarterback each year. Even with a future Hall of Fame quarterback like Brett Favre leading the team for 16 seasons, former general manager Ron Wolf and his protege, Ted Thompson, broke down the leading college signal callers as if they’d be playing for them the next fall. It’s how the team was prepared to take Aaron Rodgers when he fell to them with the 24th pick of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Current general manager Brian Gutekunst, who learned under Wolf and Thompson while working his way up through the organization, has continued that form of pre-draft evaluation, admitting they do it even on guys that almost surely won’t fall to them, including potential top picks like LSU’s Joe Burrow. The idea being that even if they don’t pick them now, they may be available later in their career and they’d already have a good idea of who the player was.

“Whether it’s philosophy or not, I know this, you have to have one to win. If you don’t, it’s a really tough challenge,” Gutekunst told reporters Monday during his pre-draft press conference. “I think it’s one of those things that you can’t overvalue that position. It’s something you always have to look at. If you think a guy has an opportunity to play in this league, and play at a high level, you have to consider it and really no matter where your team is at, because it’s just too hard to win without one.”

This year has been no different in preparation, with reports of Green Bay doing their homework on quarterbacks like Utah State’s Jordan Love, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Georgia’s Jake Fromm. Though completely in character for the franchise, that extra homework raises eyebrows a little more these days as Rodgers gets set to turn 37 this December.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback still has four years left on his contract and has said he intends to play past that. But he’s already older than Favre was in 2005 when Green Bay shocked many and took the California product. That choice set off a drama storm that didn’t truly conclude until Favre and the franchise reconciled in 2015 with his number being retired. On Monday, a reporter asked Gutekunst whether he had talked with Rodgers this offseason about the possibility that he’ll have his potential successor as a teammate this fall.

“I know that we’ve had some conversations about different personnel issues and things along the way, but I don’t know if we’ve particularly talked about that,” Gutekunst said. “It’s part of the business. If there is anybody that understands it, it’s him. He’s really focused on doing something here legacy-wise. I really appreciate that and certainly we’re going to try do everything we can to put guys around him to accomplish those things.”

That’s all true, but Rodgers has been dinged up in recent seasons. He missed 11 games in 2017 due to a broken collarbone, played almost the entire 2018 season with a broken leg suffered in Week 1 and then was on the injury report much of 2019 with a variety of ailments that he managed to play through.

Right now, Tim Boyle is Rodgers’ backup. He’s played in three games and thrown four passes. That means he’s far from proven and certainly doesn’t have the pedigree of some of the quarterbacks available in this draft. Given how important the position is to Gutekunst, it seems possible that the Packers could grab a quarterback higher than the fifth round for just the second time since Rodgers was chosen in 2005.