Aaron Jones Keeps His Focus on What He Can Control

Aaron Jones is determined to continue to thrive in the Packers backfield. His formula? Work hard on the things he can control.

Packers running back Aaron Jones had a break-out season in 2019. The former UTEP star ran for a career-high 1,084 yards, led the league with 16 rushing touchdowns and finished second on the team with 49 receptions. He went from a relative unknown to a player who got a lot of attention and was a centerpiece of the Green Bay offense last season.

But Jones faces some challenges as the Packers prepare for 2020. He is in the final year of his rookie contract and unless he and the team agree on an extension, he will be a free agent next March. The Packers also selected running back A.J. Dillon in the second round of this year’s draft to compete with Jones and backfield mate Jamaal Williams.

Still, Jones seems to be taking it all in stride and is using the same philosophy that got him to this point in his career to continue his successful development as an emerging NFL star: focus on what you can control and work hard.

“Whether it’s my first year or the last year of my deal, I’m going to be just as motivated, it doesn’t change because there’s a contract on the line for me,” Jones told reporters during Wednesday’s video press conference.

The running back is excited about the potential the offense has as the team heads into year two of Matt LaFleur’s system even without a normal offseason due to the coronavirus pandemic. Clearly there may have been more issues had this been the first year the team was running LaFleur’s offense.

“I feel like we’ll hit the ground running,” Jones said when asked about how the offense will do when they do return to the field. “It’s not a new offense for us. Last year it was a new offense for us so you’re going out there and saying OK what am I doing and not playing as comfortable. Now after all this time, you’re kind of doing a deep dive.”

One area Jones worked hard to improve upon is his pass receiving and that hard work paid off last season. He caught 49 passes, more than he grabbed in his first two NFL seasons combined. One thing the Packers star runner likes about receiving is having more room to maneuver with the football.

“It’s fun getting out into space,” Jones explained. “I feel like any time I can get out into space and into the open field with room to work, that’s going to be a good thing. I’ll take my chances on that. When coach LaFleur came in last year, he let the running backs know, ‘Hey, you’re going to be more involved in the pass game.’ I’ve been working on my routes and trying to expand that and working on my hands. I’m ready for whatever comes my way.”

He also acknowledged that after his midseason increase in pass catching when Davante Adams was out of the lineup, defenses made changes to their coverage to contain him as a receiver. “Before it would be a linebacker when I was out wide. Towards the middle of the season it would be a safety. Later on, it started being a corner. They definitely switched the way they were playing me. Sometimes I would have a linebacker underneath with a safety back over the top.”

But Jones is working hard in the classroom and is prepared to adjust to whatever coverage defenses throw at him.

The Packers drafted competition for Jones when the selected A.J. Dillon in the second round of the draft. Jones wasn’t surprised and welcomes the competition. He’s been impressed by Dillon’s attitude so far since the draft.

“A.J. has been great. He came in the first day and he’s all ready to learn,” Jones said. “He’s been texting me and trying to figure out the playbook as fast as possible so he can get it down. He’s just ready to learn, he’s hungry so I’m excited to work with him and help him as much as possible.”

Jones became a father during the offseason with Aaron Jones Jr. being born in April. He continues to work hard and he knows what motivates him. “I want to win a Super Bowl,” Jones said. “We were a game short. It’s not all about me it’s about the team and we all feel like we came one game short. I’m focused on our team’s main goal.”

When asked about his future with the Packers beyond 2020, he kept his focus on what he needs to do. “I bet on myself and I feel like I can play at a high and elite level for a very long time,” Jones said confidently. “I’m not looking at the running back market or anything like that. I’m looking directly at myself and doing what I’m capable of doing. I’m just going to do what I can and hopefully that leads to me being a Packer for life. That’s my goal.”

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (37)

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gkarl's picture

May 28, 2020 at 12:22 pm

AJ just scratch the surface of abilities LY. I think his production in the passing game will continue to grow, and it needs to. It would be wise for the FO to offer an extension and if they could get something in 5-6M range for another 4 years I think the GBP would be getting a deal, if not steal.

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murf7777's picture

May 28, 2020 at 12:25 pm

I think 7-8M is more likely and still make sense for the Packers.

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GilMartin's picture

May 28, 2020 at 01:44 pm

I think that is more in range of what he deserves, but not so sure the Packers would be eager to pay him that kind of money. We shall see. Thanks for the comment murf7777.

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gkarl's picture

May 28, 2020 at 02:30 pm

Murf

Was hoping for something like Ekler got from the Chargers. I thought that was 4 years 24m and some change, but I certainly might not remembering correctly.

I agree he could get 7-8M, but was also hoping sign this offseason and he gives the Pack a hometown discount.

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GilMartin's picture

May 28, 2020 at 01:43 pm

No doubt that would be a steal for the Packers if Jones would agree to it. He has worked hard since his rookie year to improve his receiving and his pass blocking and hopefully he continues to improve in those areas. Always good to hear from you gkarl.

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jannes bjornson's picture

May 28, 2020 at 07:24 pm

His breakout season is another reason McCarthy was shown the door. Just a dynamic guy. he is a target for a new deal.

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jannes bjornson's picture

May 28, 2020 at 07:32 pm

void

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murf7777's picture

May 28, 2020 at 12:23 pm

Dillon is Jones best friend as he will take wear and tear off his body. I can see Dillon becoming the bell cow while Jones becomes more of the James White type of role. That will lengthen Aaron Jones career and show off his strengths to a higher level.

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GilMartin's picture

May 28, 2020 at 01:49 pm

That is possible but if that happens, how eager are the Packers to re-sign Jones or pay him the $6-8 million he would likely get on the open market. I think Dillon will play an increased role as the season progresses but I wonder seriously about what that means for Jones' future in Green Bay. Thanks for the comment, murf.

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gkarl's picture

May 28, 2020 at 02:43 pm

If he can continue to improve his pass catching abilities, lets say 60 for 700-800 yards and run less because of Dillion but still get another 700-800 on the ground for 6-8M per year for another 4 years BG better get his checkbook out quick. That's a lot of production compared to the investment.

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murf7777's picture

May 28, 2020 at 03:24 pm

Gkarl, yes that is the numbers I’m thinking but they need to negotiate prior to season and give him some guaranteed money to seal the deal. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen especially due to our new O schemes.

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GilMartin's picture

May 28, 2020 at 03:35 pm

Yes it is. Just not sure the Packers would be willing to pay for it.

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murf7777's picture

May 28, 2020 at 02:48 pm

Gil, your right about paying that much if he only did Whites production but I suspect he will still be more involved in the running game then White, while being somewhat similar in the passing, which will make him more $’s. White signed for about 5M per year in 2017, so that was 2017 $’s, I suspect Jones value to be =8m or greater and I think that is on an extension this year. Anything less and I would think he will go the FA route. Although, Advantage of extension is of course some guaranteed money and contract in hand and with the RB, especially one with past injuries would be valuable. That said maybe he would go less if done this year with GB. Fingers crossed at 6-7M. Packers would be wise to take that. Love to see a Dillon-Jones backfield for 3-4 years.

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gkarl's picture

May 29, 2020 at 07:21 am

Murf I agree, it does need happen this off season and include a decent guarantee to get him at 6-8M, but if it does I believe it will be a great value for the GBP. AJ is his most dangerous when he gets the ball beyond the LOS.

Teams are paying 10-12M for #2 or 3 WR's and are lucky to get 700-800 pass yards and 4-5 TD's for that money. IMO we get that plus the rush yards from AJ.

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Johnblood27's picture

May 28, 2020 at 01:08 pm

Jones is the slot receiver we never had.

He is more elusive after the catch than Cobb with better power and long speed as well.

I like Dillon, Sternberger, Adams,Deguara and Jones all on the field at the same time.

Just think of the ways they can line up and either run or pass with equal efficiency.

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GilMartin's picture

May 28, 2020 at 01:52 pm

It would be an offense full of quality options especially if Sternberger and Deguara meet their potential. I love the potential, now it has to become reality. Thanks for commenting, Johnblood27.

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Leatherhead's picture

May 28, 2020 at 01:28 pm

Is this Aaron Jones week?

He’s in a contract year and we just spent a high pick on a running back. He’ll almost certainly have fewer carries than last year. It is unlikely we’ll offer him big money to stay but other teams will certainly be interested in him. He can help the team, and himself, by having a great season and I hope he does.

If he wants another contract in Green Bay, he’ll need to take less than he could get elsewhere.

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GilMartin's picture

May 28, 2020 at 01:54 pm

That is the likely outcome. If Jones has a big year, he will likely price himself out of the range the Packers are willing or able to pay. I would love to see him stay in Green Bay, but first let's see what happens this season. Always good to hear from you, Leatherhead.

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murf7777's picture

May 28, 2020 at 02:56 pm

Leather head, see my above write up. I think with his past injuries he might sign an extension for a discount with some guaranteed money this year. If GB could do a 4 year 25M -28M with 8 M guaranteed Jones might take that for security. If production falls or serious injury they can cut in 2 years and move on. Certainly, I would be against paying RB position at 10+ he might want if he has another high year! Get him now and take the risk of injury.

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GilMartin's picture

May 28, 2020 at 03:38 pm

That would be a good compromise deal. If he's willing to take that security in exchange for a few less dollars overall. Should be an interesting situation to watch

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Leatherhead's picture

May 28, 2020 at 09:20 pm

And what else might we be able to get for $7 million/year?

Remember: Clark, Bakhtiari, Linsley, King, Jones, Williams....we have a lot of guys we’d like to sign in the offseason. At present, I’d most like to keep Clark. I think we could keep Williams for little more than the vet minimum if we guaranteed most of it and had incentives in the deal.

The rest of those guys... Bakhtiari, Linsley, King, Jones......they’re going to be expensive. I don’t think we’ll be able to afford more than one.

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murf7777's picture

May 29, 2020 at 09:15 am

Your right on, we won’t have enough cap space to sign them all. We need TGR to answer that one. It will be a tough year determining who to sign and who to let go.

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Lphill's picture

May 28, 2020 at 03:09 pm

So the Packers will be saying goodbye to two Aaron’s soon , does anyone really think he is getting re signed?

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murf7777's picture

May 28, 2020 at 03:26 pm

Lphill if you read above, yes some of us believe an extension could be on the horizon. It could make sense for both sides to do so prior to start of year.

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GilMartin's picture

May 28, 2020 at 03:39 pm

I think it is possible but not likely. Jones could be gone after this season if his demands are too high. I think the odds are better that Rodgers remains in Green Bay longer than Jones. Thanks for the comment, Lphill.

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jannes bjornson's picture

May 28, 2020 at 07:31 pm

who would you rather pay, Jones or Lindsley?

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GilMartin's picture

May 29, 2020 at 12:35 pm

Tough choice. Probably depends on the terms and how the rookie offensive linemen we drafted look. What do you think?

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stockholder's picture

May 28, 2020 at 04:00 pm

Jones wants the ball. Jones wants be a packer. jones wants to win super-bowl. jones wants a new contract. So why is Gutey sitting on his hands. Jones isn't a top 5 NFL RB. And most Rbs in the top 10, make 6- 8 mil. So 6 mil. should be the starting point. Add a bonus, and Gutey can go on to King. Yes I want King extended too. He's a top 10 cover CB. And just Franchise Clarke! The more Gutey waits the bigger the price. Gutey is making a bigger mistake by letting other teams get to the Pickens. This is like building a Sand Castle. Then letting the Tide wipe it out. I need to believe something more then Rookies. Trying to save a buck just isn't going to work with these three.

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jannes bjornson's picture

May 28, 2020 at 07:34 pm

Now you're dealing.

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GilMartin's picture

May 29, 2020 at 12:38 pm

Running backs are a tricky thing in this day and age. I don't think they'll be too eager to sign Jones to contract worth much more than $6 or $7 million tops. I would also like to see King back. I think he had a good season now that he's finally healthy. Thanks for the comment.

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PhantomII's picture

May 30, 2020 at 09:03 pm

Jones tied for NFL lead w/ 16 rushing TD's and 3 receiving TD's. That makes him tied #1 RB in 2019. Jones is explosive, has great vision and is a big play waiting to happen. He may want 8-10 mill, or more. I know A.jones like players don't make it to GREEN BAY often. He is a special talent and if he did leave it would hurt our team significantly.

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wildbill's picture

May 28, 2020 at 05:05 pm

Getting Dillion should help our 3rd/1 and 4th/1 but you still need blocking and it’s not a secret our line is better at pass blocking than pushing the pile. Maybe that’s why we picked three road graders in the draft. I love AJ’s game and if Dillion/Williams can take some of the carries to keep him fresh/healthy I am all for it. I agree with earlier posts that if we can sign him in the 6-7 mil range just git er dun!

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GilMartin's picture

May 29, 2020 at 12:49 pm

Hope he'd take that for security and give a slight home town discount. If he's healthy and productive this year, no doubt he can get more than that on the open market. Thanks for commenting wildbill.

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Since'61's picture

May 28, 2020 at 05:05 pm

If I’m Gute I want to sign Jones to an extension sooner rather than later for 2 reasons. Jones really only has one season to base his salary increase on at this point. Secondly, the Packers don’t know what they have in Dillon yet.

If Jones has another big season his salary demands will increase accordingly. If that happens and Dillon disappoints where does that leave the Packers? Back in the days without an effective run game. Lock up Jones and secure our backfield. Thanks, Since ‘61

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GilMartin's picture

May 29, 2020 at 01:01 pm

Got to agree the Pack is better off signing Jones to an extension sooner rather than later. The price will only go up if he has another solid season. I hope they can do it. The running game is a big part of LaFleur's offense so we need to make sure we can make it go. Thanks as always for commenting, Since'61.

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PDX_Packfan's picture

May 28, 2020 at 06:07 pm

Jones is a superstar and should be paid like one - by the Pack - when the day comes. It's clear by the lack of investment at WR, although we have Adams and Lazard. I bet Funchess has a great year if healthy.

It's a shame we don't have a stud OL of road graders to go with our RB stable, but AR should be able to command the ship.

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GilMartin's picture

May 29, 2020 at 01:00 pm

Not sure too many RBs will get superstar money. No that's not fair, but that's kind of the way it is in the modern NFL. I hope the Pack finds a way to keep Jones, he's a big weapon. Thanks for commenting PDX_Packfan.

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