Fact or Fiction: Jordan Love Should Be Paid More Than Trevor Lawrence

Four quarterbacks are in line to possibly join the $50-million-per-year club, and the Packers’ signal-caller deserves to make the most money.
Love led the Packers to the divisional-round playoffs in his first season as the starting quarterback.
Love led the Packers to the divisional-round playoffs in his first season as the starting quarterback. / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

We have reached the slow news portion of the NFL offseason, evident by the intense debates that have occurred in the past few weeks about football players possibly being better athletes than NBA players.  

Don’t worry, I won’t make a case for Josh Allen averaging 10 points per game in the NBA in the return of “Fact or Fiction.” It’s been a while, so I have plenty to debate. For example, the AFC is so crowded with star quarterbacks that Aaron Rodgers might be the eighth- or ninth-best signal-caller in the conference. 

There’s a strong case to be made about Tua Tagovailoa needing to be ranked ahead of the four-time MVP. And it’s probably a good time to debate Tagovailoa’s credentials among star quarterbacks because he’s due for a contract extension. 

Jordan Love, Trevor Lawrence and Dak Prescott are also seeking new contract extensions this summer. We’ll kick off the return of “Fact or Fiction” with which quarterback should be the highest paid. 

Love should be paid more than Lawrence

Manzano’s view: Fact

Quarterback contracts will be in the news throughout the summer because Lawrence, Love, Tagovailoa and Prescott are due for contract extensions. Many podcasts and TV debate shows have discussed which quarterback should be the highest paid among the four, possibly joining the $50 million club for signal-callers. Jared Goff’s recent contract extension with the Detroit Lions (an annual average of $53 million) made him the newest member of the club, joining Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts.  

To play along with this debate, I quickly ruled out Prescott because of his lack of playoff success, and the same can be said for Tagovailoa, who went cold the last few months of last season and has injury concerns. It came down to Love and Lawrence, who might have the higher upside over Love. But I went with the Green Bay Packers’ star quarterback because of his 2023 breakout season. Lawrence’s best season was ’22 and it probably wasn’t as good as what Love did in his first season as a starter. 

But this is not solely about numbers. Love has an elite skill set, just like Lawrence, and he passed the eye test with what he did the final two months of last season. The Packers know they have a future MVP under center. As for the Jacksonville Jaguars, they’re probably wondering whether this will be the year Lawrence finally makes the leap everyone has been waiting for since he was drafted No. 1 in '21. 

Tagovailoa should be ranked higher than Rodgers among AFC QBs

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa
Tagovailoa had a league-high 4,624 passing yards with 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season. / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Manzano’s view: Fact 

Yes, I did just call out Tagovailoa for his lack of postseason success earlier in this column. But I did give him credit when my colleague Matt Verderame asked me on last week’s MMQB podcast whether I would rank Rodgers ahead of the Miami Dolphins’ signal-caller for best quarterbacks in the AFC. I couldn’t justify ranking a 40-year-old Rodgers, who only played four snaps for the New York Jets last season, over Tagovailoa, who had a league-high 4,624 passing yards with 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Rodgers has the daunting challenge of regaining his top form after a torn Achilles with a team that’s still relatively new to him. Tagovailoa stayed healthy last season and has excelled in Mike McDaniel’s offensive scheme. 

And, yes, Tagovailoa’s statistics don’t tell the whole story, because he did struggle in crunch time last season. Rodgers doesn’t have that issue, but it’s not safe to assume he’s still the same MVP quarterback who carried the Packers for many years. Give me Tagovailoa over Rodgers in the stacked AFC. And in no particular order, Verderame and I agreed that Patrick Mahomes, Burrow, Allen, Jackson, Herbert, Lawrence and C.J. Stroud should be ranked ahead of Tagovailoa and Rodgers in the AFC.

Bengals are the one team that can dethrone Chiefs in AFC

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow
Calf and wrist injuries sidelined Burrow last season. / Cara Owsley/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Manzano’s view: Fiction 

Many are assuming the Cincinnati Bengals will be Super Bowl contenders with a healthy Burrow, but it’s not that simple. The Bengals often get the benefit of the doubt because Burrow is great and they have a playoff victory over Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2021 postseason. 

I must admit, I’m also guilty of giving the Bengals the benefit of the doubt, and I do believe that Cincinnati wins 10 games with a healthy Burrow. But I’m not convinced the Bengals can win the AFC North and there shouldn’t be assumptions about Burrow staying healthy. He has dealt with many injuries in his four NFL seasons and who knows how the wrist injury on his throwing hand will impact him early in the season. Burrow struggled early last season because of a calf injury. 

The Bengals have made it a habit of digging holes for themselves, but they did beat the Chiefs that one time in the playoffs. The Bengals will need to prove themselves first against the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers in divisional games before they can worry about their rivalry with the Chiefs. The AFC is loaded with potential teams that can spoil Kansas City’s three-peat hopes, not just the Bengals.   

Giants’ Kayvon Thibodeaux will break sack record 

New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux
Thibodeaux recorded a career-high 11.5 sacks last season. / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Manzano’s view: Fiction 

New York Giants edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux recently told reporters that he’s aiming to break Michael Strahan’s NFL record of 22.5 sacks, which occurred in 2001. Nothing wrong with setting the bar high and breaking the record of the former Giants great, but that might not be feasible playing with a loaded defensive front. 

New Giants defensive coordinator Shane Bowen will be looking to gain advantageous matchups for their new trio of Thibodeaux, Dexter Lawrence and Brian Burns, the star edge rusher who landed in New York after being traded by the Carolina Panthers in March. Perhaps Thibodeaux can take advantage if teams are too concerned with slowing Burns, but it’s tough seeing defenses ignoring the third-year standout. Last season, Thibodeaux recorded a career-high 11.5 sacks, a number he might surpass playing alongside Burns and Lawrence in 2024. But Burns and Lawrence might steal sacks from Thibodeaux, which would be a good problem for the Giants.

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Gilberto Manzano