Jordan Love's augmentation chats with Packers in expectation.

Jordan Love’s augmentation chats with Packers in expectation.

 

Jordan Love’s extension talks with Packers expected to ‘heat up’ post-draft

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — In the not-so-distant future, Jordan Love will reap the wards of the prolific season he had in his first full showcase as the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback.

Love, who finished his fourth season in the league and first as the Packers’ signal-caller, is due for a rather lucrative contract extension—potentially even before the 2024 campaign begins. It’s not a question of ‘if,’ but simply a question of ‘when.’

“The Packers are committed to getting something done with Love,” said ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler in a SportsCenter appearance on Sunday. “He got the proof of concept last year with the big season, so they believe he’s their future.”

Fowler noted that he anticipates Love entering the upper echelon of the league’s highest-paid quarterbacks; these conversations should heat up after the NFL Draft in two weeks. However, the Packers have no choice but to wait until the draft’s conclusion. Rather than picking up Love’s fifth-year option last spring, the Packers signed him to a one-year contract extension—a maneuver that both protected the franchise in the event that Love underwhelms while also guaranteeing the then-24-year-old more money upfront with the potential to earn $22.5 million dollars as opposed to the $20.2 million he’d make had his option been picked up—that solidified him as the starting quarterback through the 2024 season.

By rule, the Packers have to wait until at least one year passes after an extension before a player is eligible for his next one. For Love, that’ll be on May 3.

Jordan Love warms up before the Packers vs. Buccaneers at Lambeau Field on Dec. 17, 2023.

“There’s been some preliminary discussions, but we want to do it the right way,” said general manager Brian Gutekunst at the NFL Owners Meetings last month in Orlando, Fla. There’s a substantial risk that comes with unloading heaps of money into a player with little experience, especially when that player is going to be paid similarly to the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen after just 18 regular-season starts—risk that Gutekunst is cognizant of.

“In every contract extension, draft pick, any decision you make, there’s a ton of risk in that. It’s just part of it,” he said, “The nice thing about having a guy in your building for the last four years is you absolutely know who he is. There’s no guarantees about anything going forward, but we know how he’s going to respond, how he’s going to react and how he’s going to work.”

As it turns out, Love is everything team brass hoped for him to be and more. Despite the rocky start to the season that saw the Packers limp into the month of November with a 2-5 record, Love and the youngest offense in league history rallied, winning seven of their next 10 games to secure a spot in the NFC playoff picture as the. No. 7 seed. Love led the Packers into AT&T Stadium and throttled the No. 2-seeded Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round before falling to a familiar foe in the San Francisco 49ers the following week.

Over a 12-game span, starting with the Nov. 5 win over the Los Angeles Rams and ending with the Divisional Round loss, Love completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 3,132 yards, 26 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 108.3 passer rating. He was essentially at or near the top of every statistical passing category.

At the time of Love’s extension last year, general manager Brian Gutekunst admitted that the Packers didn’t feel comfortable picking up the fifth-year option in his contract because of the amount of money that would be invested into someone who, at the time, had just one career start under his belt. That was a sobering, albeit realistic admission from someone who actively traded up for Love in the spring of 2020 despite having a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback on his roster already.

By this point, Love has cemented his case as a franchise cornerstone for the foreseeable future—Gutekunst is likely going to be willing to back up the Brink’s truck onto his doorstep.

These are the NFL-Star Wars mashups you’ve been looking for! Welcome to a collection of concept football helmets by artist John Raya that recasts each of the NFL’s 32 teams as a squad that’d be fit to take the field in a galaxy far, far away. In other words, if you’ve ever wondered what the New England Patriots would look like if they played on Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi home, well, you’re about to find out.

Because the NFL-Star Wars connection is a real thing here in the real world, we’ll also show you some of the best Star Wars cosplay that’s been captured at NFL games. As the pictures prove, these fans did not come to play; they came to dominate in their best Darth Vader helmets.

Cue the wipe transition. Our Star Wars-inspired gallery of all NFL things begins now.

(Note: Each helmet’s Star Wars references were explained with the help of info from the databases of StarWars.com and Wookieepedia.)

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Miami Dolphins

This AFC East team may not have won big in a while, but the Miami Dolphins sure look good as the Rodia Greedos. Greedo is the bounty hunter from Rodia that Han Solo may or may not have shot first in the original Star Wars movie.

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New York Giants

 Here, the New York Giants become the Kuat Walkers. In the Star Wars universe, a walker is a giant-sized vehicle of the Imperial army. Though impressive in size, the AT-AT versions were easily toppled by Rebel fighters in The Empire Strikes Back.

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New York Jets

This is a New York Jets-style helmet for a Star Wars-land football team called the Yavin 4 X-Wings. In the original Star Wars movie, Yavin 4 was the planet where the Rebel forces took to their X-wing fighters to attack the Death Star.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Chew on this: The Jags are transformed here into the Kashyyk Wookiees. In the Star Wars universe, Kashyyk is the home planet of Wookies, like Chewbacca — the star of our reimagined Jaguars helmet.

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Detroit Lions

This is what it looks like when this NFC North team gets sucked into the Star Wars vortex — and becomes the Dathomir Rancors. A rancor is a Star Wars beast that hails from the planet Dathomir; one is first seen by audiences in Jabba the Hutt’s lair in Return of the Jedi.

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Carolina Panthers

 Here, this NFC South team gives way to the Malastare Dugs. The Dugs are a Star Wars species (from the planet Malastare) first seen, release-wise, in Return of the Jedi.

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Greetings from the dark sides

Maybe because he wears a helmet, Darth Vader is something of a familiar sight in NFL stands. Here, thanks to a cosplaying Carolina Panthers fan, the Star Wars villain pops up at a Panthers game in 2015. And, yup, that’s a Panthers-style Vader dome that the fan’s wearing.

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Baltimore Ravens

In this concept design, the Baltimore Ravens go to the dark side — and become the Mygeeto Siths. Mygeeto is a Star Wars planet, natch, that’s featured in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, naturally.

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9 of 44

Washington Commanders

This concept helmet was created before the 2022 Washington rebrand. It recasts the then-Washington Redskins as the Naboo Gungans. In the Star Wars universe, the most famous Gungan is Jar Jar Binks, the character featured in the concept helmet’s logo.  Jar Jar and the Gungans were introduced to audiences in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

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New Orleans Saints

In the Star Wars version of the New Orleans Saints’ helmet, the dome’s fleur-de-lis gives way to C-3PO. The Affa Androids wouldn’t have it any other way. According to Wookieepedia, canon Star Wars texts, such as Star Wars: The Galactic Explorer’s Guide, establish Affa as the planet where C-3PO-style androids were built.

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Hook ’em horns

This is a close-up of a New Orleans Saints fan at a Saints home game in 2010. The fan affects a Darth Maul look, but in Saints colors, of course.

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Tennessee Titans

Here, this AFC South team is transformed into the Dxun Mandalorians. In non-canon Star Wars comics, per Wookieepedia, Dxun is the planet that was the staging ground of the Mandalorian Wars.

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Minnesota Vikings

The horns on the Minnesota Vikings’ helmet make the dome perfect fodder for a Star Wars concept helmet for the Shili Togrutas. The Togrutas are a Star Wars species (originally from the planet Shili) first seen on screen in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

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Indianapolis Colts

Yes, the Indianapolis Colts are the lucky team that gets the stormtrooper concept helmet. Here, the AFC South franchise is recast, Star Wars-style, as the Mos Eisley Troopers. In the original Star Wars movie, the Mos Eisley cantina is the place where troopers search for — but don’t find — Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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15 of 44

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs are an AFC powerhouse. As for the Endor Ewoks?  We think they’d qualify as powerfully cute. The Star Wars universe’s cuddly Ewoks, from the planet Endor, were introduced in Return of the Jedi.

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16 of 44

Arizona Cardinals

This NFC West team is a fan of bold red. The Yinchorr Royal Guards feel the same. The red robe-wearing members of the Imperial Royal Guard are featured in the Star Wars franchise as far back, release-wise, as Return of the Jedi. In non-canon Star Wars lore, per Wookieepedia, Yinchorr is the home planet of the Royal Guard’s training academy.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady plays for the Tampa Bay Bucs, but we imagine he could bring his winning ways to the Tatooine Tusken Raiders, too. The Tusken Raiders are probably better known to casual Star Wars fans as the Sand People. Audiences first saw the characters in the original Star Wars movie.

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Cleveland Browns

Even in the Star Wars universe, we guess, the Cleveland Browns’ spare, but iconic helmet would remain simple — even if it was being donned by the Raxus Prime Jawas. The Jawas are the diminutive, chattering junk dealers first seen by audiences in the original Star Wars movie. In Star Wars non-canon, per Wookieepedia, Raxus Prime is a planet that features a sizable Jawa population.

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19 of 44

Buffalo Bills

Here’s the Star Wars take on this AFC East team: Meet the red-white-and-blue helmet of the Tatooine Banthas. In the Star Wars universe, a bantha is a large, horned creature (not unlike a bull?) that’s built for the unforgiving terrain of Buffalo winters, er, sorry, Luke Skywalker’s Tatooine.

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Dark helmet

Buffalo Bills fans sure do love them some Star Wars cosplay. Here, in this shot from a 2019 Buffalo home game, a Bills fan dons an awesome Darth Vader helmet done up in the colors of the fan’s favorite NFL team.

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‘Star Wars’ Fett-ish

Here’s another example of the how faithful the Bills’ faithful are to Star Wars. In this scene captured at a 2015 game at Buffalo’s then-Ralph Wilson Stadium, a fan cheers on the home team from beneath a Boba Fett-like dome.

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Cincinnati Bengals

Here, this AFC North team takes on a new look — and striping — when it’s transformed into the Iridonia Zabraks. In the Star Wars universe, the Zabraks are a horned species who hail from Iridonia (and sometimes Dathomir). The most famous Zabrak looks a lot like the fellow seen in the logo for the Iridonia Zabraks: Darth Maul.

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In the eye of the storm

This right here is some of the best Star Wars cosplay you’ll see at an NFL game. A Cincinnati Bengals fan brings a glorious Bengals orange to a stormtrooper getup at a 2005 Bengals game played at the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field.

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Chicago Bears

This NFC North team is known as the Monsters of the Midway — and the Bears sure do look monstrous here as the Hoth Wampas. A wampa is the sharp-clawed creature that attacks Luke Skywalker and his tauntaun in the Hoth-set opening of The Empire Strikes Back.

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Los Angeles Chargers

This AFC West team is known to fans as the Bolts. Because of that, we think the faithful would get a, ahem, charge out of seeing their team rebranded, Star Wars-style as the Dorin Lightsabers. While you probably know what a lightsaber is, you may not know that, in the Star Wars universe, Dorin is the home planet of the Jedi Master Plo Koon.

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Denver Broncos

Say goodbye to the Denver Broncos of the AFC West. Say hello to the Hoth Tauntauns of the Star Wars universe. Fans of The Empire Strikes Back well remember Luke Skywalker astride a bronco — sorry, tauntaun — as he traverses the frozen tundra of Hoth.

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Another Vader

We told you NFL fans love Darth Vader — and we were weren’t wrong. This is a 2014 shot from a Denver Broncos home game against the then-Oakland Raiders. A dedicated Broncos fan wears Broncos-matching Darth Vader gear. As if compelled by an otherworldly force, the Broncos won the game, routing the Raiders, 47-14.

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Seattle Seahawks

Here, the Seattle Seahawks become the Toydaria Wattos. Watto is a character first seen on screen in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: He’s a junk-shop owner who runs his business with the help, as it were, of slave: the young Anakin Skywalker.

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Nice shoes

Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah brings a little Star Wars magic with him to the field before a Seattle Seahawks wild-card playoff game in Philadelphia in 2020. Ansah’s Yoda cleats apparently brought the Seahawks good luck: Seattle defeated Philadelphia, 17-9.

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Houston Texans

Here’s a Houston Texans-style helmet for a Star Wars-inspired football squad named the Ysleia Reeks. With its bull insignia, the Texans’ helmet is the perfect place to pay homage to the reeks. The reeks are a horned beast featured prominently in the arena battle from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

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Houston, we have no problem

Here, a pair of Houston Texans fan show their dedication to their team — and to the Empire’s stormtroopers. This picture was captured at the 2012 AFC Wild Card Game in Houston; the contest pitted the Texans against the Cincinnati Bengals. (Spoiler alert: The Texans won.)

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Los Angeles Rams

Here, the Super Bowl LVI champs get the Star Wars treatment, and go from the Los Angeles Rams to the Ryloth Twi’leks. Hailing from the planet Ryloth, the Twi’leks sport ram-like tentacles on their heads. Audiences first saw the species in Return of the Jedi.

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Las Vegas Raiders

When the time comes to dream up Star Wars concept helmets, if your team’s name rhymes with that of a certain Sith Lord, then you can bet the Las Vegas Raiders will become the Coruscant Vaders. First seen in Return of the Jedi, Coruscant is the base of operations for Darth Sidious, aka Palpatine, the two-timing Galactic Republic bigwig who turns Anakin Skywalker to the dark side — and into Darth Vader.

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Embracing the dark side

If this picture is any indication, Raiders fans will approve of their team’s concept helmet. This Darth Vader-clad Raiders fan is seen at a 2021 preseason game in Las Vegas.

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A long time ago…

This photo proves that Raiders fans and Darth Vader go way back. It was taken at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum during a Raiders game in October 1977, just a handful of months after the release of the original Star Wars movie.

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Atlanta Falcons

Here, this team of the NFC West becomes the Ryloth Interceptors. In the Star Wars universe, an interceptor is a spacecraft — i.e., it’s something that takes flight, not unlike a falcon. Ryloth is the planet where inceptors see a lot of action, especially in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

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San Francisco 49ers

This NFC West powerhouse is transformed here into the Geonosis B1s. B1 is a battle droid seen in the animated series Star Wars Resistance. Geonosis, meanwhile, is a planet of the Star Wars universe that’s known for its (what else?) droid factories.

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Rebel, rebel

This shot of cosplaying NFL fans was captured at a San Francisco 49ers-Arizona Cardinals game at the Cardinals’ State Farm Stadium in 2019. The game was played on Halloween. The fan of the left is dressed as Princess Lei; the one on the right, as Chewbacca.

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Green Bay Packers

Any Cheesehead who’s overindulged on tailgate food may get the Star Wars connection here — when the Green Bay Packers become the Nal Hutta Hutts. Nal Hutta is a planet featured in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. As its name suggests, it is the original home of the very bad, very large Jabba the Hutt.

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Philadelphia Eagles

Here, the Dagobah Yodas the Super Bowl LII champs become. (Hat tip to the English to Yoda translator for that sentence.) Dagobah is a swampy planet first seen by audiences in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s where Luke Skywalker first encounters Yoda — and the Jedi Master’s unique sentence syntax.

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Drumroll, please

Here, members of the Philadelphia Eagles Drumline perform at a 2017 game at the Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field. Did we mention the drumline members were dressed as Imperial stormtroopers? Our bad. Well, they were!

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Pittsburgh Steelers

The iconic helmet for the six-time Super Bowl-winning franchise almost looks the same when it’s Star Wars-fied — and becomes the helmet for the Ryloth Droidekas. As first seen by audiences in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, a droideka is a battle droid.

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New England Patriots

Is that Obi-Wan Kenobi or the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick under the hoodie on the Star Wars-inspired helmet for the Coruscant Jedis? We’re pretty sure it’s Kenobi. But we wouldn’t be surprised if it was Belichick. The longtime Pats coach, after all, does have a way of masterfully disarming his team’s opponents.

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Dallas Cowboys

What’s happened to the dome of “America’s Team”? Why, it’s become the domain of the Yavin Rebels. The rebels, in a way, are Star Wars‘ team — they’re the heroes of the franchise.

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