Why the Packers’ Love factor attracted Jacobs, McKinney

GREEN BAY, Wis. — For the two years Josh Jacobs and Xavier McKinney played together at the University of Alabama, they would often discuss the possibility that someday they both would be in the NFL.



But they never even entertained the idea of playing on the same team at the next level — let alone both playing for the Green Bay Packers.



“Never,” McKinney, the safety who played his first four seasons for the New York Giants, said when asked if he ever thought about playing with Jacobs again. After all, what were the chances?

So the improbability of it all was not lost on them when they arrived at Lambeau Field last week to sign their massive free agent contracts after agreeing to terms on Monday.



“Knowing him for so long, even over the years, we still talk all the time,” said Jacobs, the running back who spent his first five seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders.

“For me to be able to come here with him, we were talking about it [when arriving in Green Bay], sitting down eating, it’s special. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, being here and everything like that, but I think it’s going to be fun.”



Neither Jacobs nor McKinney would be here if the money wasn’t right. For Jacobs, it is a $12.5 million signing bonus on a deal that averages $12 million a year. For McKinney, it is a $23 million signing bonus on a deal that averages $16.75 million a year.

Jacobs said he had more than 10 teams inquire about his services, and the Packers had to outbid the Giants to land McKinney.



But once the money was right, not only was the idea of playing together attractive, but the prospect of being part of a young team that made the playoffs last season helped. And there’s the Jordan Love factor.

“Obviously, young quarterback, young skill guys, good offensive line,” Jacobs said. “So, for a running back, [teams] can’t load the box, and when you do, you still got guys that can move people around. I think that’s the thing that kind of excited me the most.

“To have a guy so young and playing as well as he has, and a guy that’s going to be around for a long time, it’s fun to have something stable and know what you’re going to get out of a guy week in and week out. So that’s very exciting for me.

“Same for McKinney, who is expected to be one of the cornerstones of new coordinator Jeff Hafley’s defense. He called Love a “big factor” in his decision to come to the Packers.

“It’s a competitive league and you need an elite quarterback to be able to even have a chance,” said McKinney, who recovered a Love fumble when the teams met this past season.

“I believe that he is an elite quarterback. Obviously, I played against him and I watched him play, and I think he’s really good and the sky’s the limit for him.

“I know he’s a great leader — I’ve heard great things about him — so it’s going to be real fun being a part of this team and being able to go to work with these guys every day. It’s going to be a hungry group, I can already tell. We’ve got a lot of young talent and it’s going to be fun.

“Jacobs is the oldest among the Packers’ offensive skill position players, yet he is only 26. Love is 25. None of his top four receivers is older than that. The top two tight ends, Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft, are both under 25.

“It’s weird because I’m like, man, I ain’t that old,” Jacobs said. “But I think that’s dope though because last year a lot of them young guys in the beginning of the season was still kind of trying to figure it out. Or at least that’s what it looked like from the outside looking in.

“You know when it starts to click because for most young guys it’s just about experience. Them having that whole year worth of experience and then coming in this year, I’m excited to see a lot of them take that step. I just hope to be a part of that and help in any way that I can.”