Aaron Jones has been electric for the Green Bay Packers, emerging as one of the NFL’s best running backs in recent years. The question is: does the team want to dedicate a big chunk of the salary cap to any running back?
That is something Green Bay will need to answer soon. After a breakout 2019 season, in which Jones ran for 1,084 yards and 16 touchdowns, he was even more efficient this fall. He had a career high 1,104 yards in 14 regular season games, on fewer carries than he had the year before (236 vs. 201), as well as nine touchdowns.
Aaron Rodgers settling in to Matt LaFleur’s offense helped opened up running room for Jones, as did the Packers’ elite offensive line. There is a constant question over how much to invest in a running back, even one as explosive as Jones. The Packers reportedly made him an offer that would have made him one of the five highest-paid backs in terms of annual salary, but without the kind of guaranteed money that he was looking for.
ESPN‘s Rob Demovsky identified Jones as the “biggest player decision” for the Packers during this looming offseason. It will be fascinating to see how the team plays it, and whether Jones is willing to walk and take a shot on the open market, something that hasn’t always worked out for top running backs in recent years.
Aaron Jones with a burst of SPEED to start the second half 💨
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 16, 2021
From ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky on the Packers’ offer to Jones, and where things stand for both sides.
The Packers had a deal on the table that would have made Jones among the top five highest-paid backs in the league, but that was in terms of average per year. The big guaranteed money was missing. So Jones turned it down and then opted to change agents, hiring Drew Rosenhaus. The Packers continue to see how valuable Jones is — just look at his 60-yard run to open the second half of the playoff game against the Rams — but it’s hard to imagine them upping their guaranteed money, especially if they want to re-sign All Pro center Corey Linsley. Perhaps the decision already has been made to let him go — or least hit the market — but it couldn’t have been an easy one.
The Green Bay Packers have a quality second back in Jamaal Williams, though there is speculation that he may also walk in the offseason. AJ Dillon, the team’s second-round pick in 2020, didn’t play a huge role through much of the season, but emerged late during the year. Spelling a banged up Jones against the Tennessee Titans, the former Boston College star did his best Derrick Henry impression in the snow, rushing for 124 yards and two scores on 21 carries.
He may be an insurance policy for the team, if the team elects to let Aaron Jones walk and not pay a top-of-market deal.