Aaron Jones Will Have Fresh Legs Entering His Next Contract

The Packers did well in not running Aaron Jones into the ground during his rookie contract. 

Aaron Jones will be one of the better running backs to hit the open market in recent years. The Green Bay Packers have a little bit of time to work out a deal, but as each day passes, it becomes less likely. Whoever lands Jones this offseason is going to get a dynamic back with a ton of tread left on his tires.

When Jones is negotiating his new contract, he can use longevity as a potential bargaining chip. He just turned 26 last season, and for the next few years, his next team won’t have to worry about him slowing down anytime soon. They can actually thank Green Bay for doing a great job of not running him into the ground under his rookie contract.

In the last two seasons with Matt LaFleur, Jones hasn’t been heavily featured on offense. However, that hasn’t diminished his ability to help them win football games. In fact, keeping his legs fresh has probably augmented his impact.

Jones only had only one game where he finished with at least 20 rushing attempts in 2020. The league’s leading rusher Derrick Henry had 12, but it’s different when you’re expected to provide a bulk of the offense. For a better comparison, Indianapolis Colts rookie Jonathan Taylor had four games where he attempted at least 20 rushes. Taylor had 31 more rushing attempts during the season, but Jones ended with only 65 fewer yards.

This isn’t to say Jones can’t or shouldn’t be given a heavier workload. The Packers could have afforded to give Jones the ball more if they wanted. In the one game they fed Jones 20 carries last season, he finished with 145 yards and one touchdown against the Carolina Panthers. He’s certainly capable of rushing the ball more and putting up huge numbers. However, the Packers didn’t need that from him, and perhaps that’s not how they felt he was best utilized. It’s hard to dispute their method of thinking.

When Jones had a breakout season in 2019 of 1,084 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns, he was 15th in the NFL in attempts. Last season, he was 10th and still had a career-high 1,104 rushing yards.

There are a lot of cases where running backs are given a ton of carries during their rookie contract. Then, by the end of their second contract, they hit a wall. In the case of Todd Gurley, the Los Angeles Rams orchestrated a trade just to get out of his contract. Because Jones doesn’t have a ton of mileage, he will get a sizable second contract with the expectation of producing over the next three or four years. Barring any injuries, that shouldn’t be a problem.

For those clinging to hope that Jones stays in Green Bay, yesterday they passed on exercising the franchise tag. He could have been paired him with AJ Dillon for another season and together the two could have been a dynamic one-two punch. Adam Schefter then reported that the Packers are still working on re-signing Jones. Maybe both sides can work something out between now and March 17, but if they can’t, Jones will get paid a lot of money by someone else. A bigger pay day may also lead to a more centralized role in his next offense and that could be something Jones is looking for.

Regardless of what happens with Jones, he has a much better chance of playing out the entirety of his second contract. That in and of itself is tough to put a price on at running back.

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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Comments (53)

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Since'61's picture

March 10, 2021 at 12:14 pm

Great. Unless Jones re-signs with the Packers his fresh legs won't do anything to help the Packers. Thanks, Since '61

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ImaPayne's picture

March 10, 2021 at 02:18 pm

Anyone who thinks Jones is just a happy camper to take a lot less money to play in GB is not dealing with a full deck. Its always about the benjamins which the packers will not put up period.
The Packers want the fans to think, wow we almost kept him hear, we wanted him badly but got out bid. Ya by everyone

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 10, 2021 at 07:39 pm

He was injured on and off his first two seasons, he should have fresh legs.

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Big_Mel_75's picture

March 10, 2021 at 09:48 pm

Funny how many people forget how much missed

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Leatherhead's picture

March 10, 2021 at 12:30 pm

He'll turn 27 next year, then 28, then 29. That's who you're buying.

Go to www.pro-football-reference.com. Go to the Total Yardage from scrimmage leaders for 2020. Here's what you'll find.

Derrick Henry, 26, led everybody. Cook and Kamara are right behind. Jones is 7th. All of them are 26 or younger.

In fact, Melvin Gordon finished 25th, the highest ranking of any RB older than 26. He's 27. The next "old" RB is Carolina's Mike Davis, who is ranked 38th. He's 27. David Johnson is 29 and he finished 42nd.

Moral of the story? Draft RBs, don't buy their second contract.

Edit: I noticed Davante Adams, 29, was ranked 14th in total yardage. The most productive receiver 30 years or older was Cole Beasley, who was ranked 48th.

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TarynsEyes's picture

March 10, 2021 at 12:47 pm

The Packers side of that moral is them buying veteran leadership.

The problem is GB keeps buying into those they couldn't make into leaders.

I have often said, if you're not making leaders you're going to lose the war.

GB has lost every war,NFCCG, with a lack of leadership.

GB will win 11-13 battles and lose the war.

I don't see that changing this season either, except perhaps a couple less battles.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 10, 2021 at 01:33 pm

That sounds like an indictment of Rodgers, who has been our leader for a decade. Was that your point?

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TarynsEyes's picture

March 10, 2021 at 02:01 pm

If Rodgers is the first name or face that comes into view for you, why ask me if its my point. However, I was thinking more than Rodgers, but he's certainly deserving of such.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 10, 2021 at 02:26 pm

That’s disingenuous. Rodgers has been the face of the franchise for a decade, just like the guy before him. And the President, GM, and HC have all been changed during that time.

Perhaps you could try saying what you mean, and who you’re talking about.

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TarynsEyes's picture

March 10, 2021 at 03:04 pm

My point was GB hasn't had any real leader(s) since Woodson. So, Rodgers, though the face of the franchise, doesn't make him the leader the team needs, ala Woodson.
Brady is a QB that not only leads, but exemplifies leadership.
Brady takes less and does more.
Rodgers takes more and gets less done.
Brady works with the cap.
Rodgers wants a lot of it.
Please, leave the stat sheet out of it.
Favre was more a leader than Rodgers can ever imagine, though his leadership caused problems for GB in games.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 10, 2021 at 03:27 pm

If your point is that Brady has been a more successful leader than Rodgers, I agree. He’s been more successful than anyone.

I disagree that Favre was a better leader.

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Johnblood27's picture

March 11, 2021 at 06:13 am

Favre was a better leader.

Dont confuse game decisions with leadership. Favre made many poor game decisions but he did it in the context of competing, his teammates admired his guts and followed him with a "give it your all" attitude.

Rodgers is not the leader Favre was, although he is the more physically talented, mentally disciplined and statistically successful player.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 11, 2021 at 08:08 am

I’m gonna disagree. Favre was careless with the ball, especially in the clutch, and then he’d rationalize it by saying he was “trying to make a play”. I cringed when I heard his teammates say the same thing about their mistakes.

Leaders don’t throw teammates under the bus, they don’t mow their lawn while their teammates are in Green Bay working out, they don’t have separate locker rooms, they don’t take Wednesday off while their teammates practice, they don’t make up destructive lies about the boss, they don’t say “I’m not sure the team is good enough for me to come back “. They don’t throw away seasons because they’re “having fun out there”.

Favre was a poor leader. Reggie led the team, and when he was gone, we had no leadership and we won more titles.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 11, 2021 at 08:08 am

I’m gonna disagree. Favre was careless with the ball, especially in the clutch, and then he’d rationalize it by saying he was “trying to make a play”. I cringed when I heard his teammates say the same thing about their mistakes.

Leaders don’t throw teammates under the bus, they don’t mow their lawn while their teammates are in Green Bay working out, they don’t have separate locker rooms, they don’t take Wednesday off while their teammates practice, they don’t make up destructive lies about the boss, they don’t say “I’m not sure the team is good enough for me to come back “. They don’t throw away seasons because they’re “having fun out there”.

Favre was a poor leader. Reggie led the team, and when he was gone, we had no leadership and we won more titles.

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Guam's picture

March 10, 2021 at 01:48 pm

I'm less concerned about player leadership than I am about HC and coordinator leadership. Our coaching group has been out coached in the two recent NFCCGs. MLF has been highly successful during the season, but has come up short in the post season. That needs to improve.

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TarynsEyes's picture

March 10, 2021 at 02:08 pm

One of the reasons, and often stated, why I didn't feel good about the Packers. We saw little change in MLF and staff during the season from the previous season to suggest he hadn't adapted in game and big game situations. The results are proof.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

March 10, 2021 at 02:23 pm

Buy young and cheap. The RBs that have the most longevity are those that can transition to being third down / pass catching specialists, and the receivers with the most longevity are usually your possession guys that might not beat everyone downfield but can use something other than just speed to get open.

Davante profiles pretty well to be one of those receivers that can be incredibly productive even as his body slows down a bit and to have a Fitzgerald kind of career as he already shows those kinds of special/nuanced skills.

For an RB, I think Jones could be that Fred Williams kind of ageless wonder at RB, but they're typically role players - you're not going to pay top dollar for an RB that is only in the field for 20% of snaps, and as a bell cow kind of back, I would give him 1-2 years. Whoever signs him is going to run him into the ground and end up cutting him halfway through his deal.

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Big_Mel_75's picture

March 10, 2021 at 02:34 pm

Jones is going to play long with injuries? He was fresh cause they knew he couldn't carry a full load. Played in all 16 games once. 12 in first two years. 14 last year... So only getting part of the snaps and still can't stay healthy.....

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Matt Gonzales's picture

March 10, 2021 at 04:04 pm

All the more reason for GB to not pay for him. Most "premier" backs can't handle that kind of load for more than a few years. I think he could last 2 years at his current level in a 50/50 timeshare, maybe more depending on how much you the middle abuse he's taking. But I think whoever signs him is gonna be trying to restructure in 2 years or they'll be paying bell cow money to someone who is going to become more and more situational as injuries catch up.

Jones may not have had a huge load in GB, but the big knock on him was the tread already on his tires coming out of UTEP. And I think that is a fair concern even though he has done things through conditioning and adding some bulk to his frame to be able to play at an NFL level.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

March 10, 2021 at 04:35 pm

Dupe post

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Stroh's picture

March 10, 2021 at 07:30 pm

Exactly what I was aaying in a comment! Jones will last in GB, because they would know to manage his work. New team, big contract equals heavy work and significant injury and 2 yrs and done.

Jones is already shown to be injury prone even with a managed workload.

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marginwalker76's picture

March 11, 2021 at 04:14 am

Why do you think he wants that guaranteed money? He knows his body won't hold up for the duration of his next contract. He's missed 10 games in the last 4 years. I suspect that will trend up in the next 4.

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Irish_Cheesehead's picture

March 10, 2021 at 12:54 pm

There’s only so much cap money to go around. The reality is someone will overpay for Jones. Good for him! This is his one and only chance to cash in. Now let’s resign Williams. There’s no reason Dillon and Williams can’t deliver their own 1-2 punch - and a punishing one at that!

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Stroh's picture

March 10, 2021 at 07:35 pm

But in GB they would manage his work and probably has a far greater chance to play out a full contract.

Whats better making 20M but only lasting 2 season or making 30M but making it through 4 yrs?

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Big_Mel_75's picture

March 10, 2021 at 02:51 pm

This article is incorrect in the fact that the RB franchise tender for 21 is 8.6 mil per overthecap.com so if it were true GB offered 9 mil a year it was more then the tag. Also per other earlier articles GB offered top 5 per year money around 12 mil a year with lower guaranteed money and Jones turned it down. So Jones wants the money. It will be provided somewhere else and they will regret paying it after 2 years.

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4thandinches's picture

March 10, 2021 at 10:02 pm

Thank you. That article was terrible. I thought Dillon looked quite good. Just because he didn't play a large role in year 1 doesn't mean he's not very promising. I agree with your points about the salary and will add that aav is a pretty lazy and poor way of gauging contracts. The guaranteed money and how the money is spread out over the years is important to players and agents. It also says a lot about the chances a player will finish the contract imo.

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Stroh's picture

March 10, 2021 at 07:39 pm

I wouldn't pay any more than that either! In fact I probably wouldn't offer that much.

Whats better 9M for 4 yrs in GB or 24m but being washed up, injured and done in 2 yrs? That's called next level thinking! Try it sometime.

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dobber's picture

March 11, 2021 at 07:27 am

It's all about the guaranteed money: how much is he SURE to get? You never know how many years of any contract you're going to get when the dollar signs are big...it's all about the guaranteed, up-front haul.

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Guam's picture

March 10, 2021 at 01:49 pm

At this point Rosenhaus won't let Jones sign with the Packers before getting some comparative offers from other teams. And other teams might well be able to outbid the Packers.

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Stroh's picture

March 10, 2021 at 07:42 pm

Why? He did with Sam Shields and got a deal done after tag deadline but before FA! Rosenbaum isn't a problem!

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Guam's picture

March 11, 2021 at 07:50 am

Rosnebaum won't be a problem, but Rosenhaus is. Rosenhaus is an aggressive agent and will seek multiple bids for his client to consider. And given GB's cap limitations I doubt the Packers keep Jones.

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dobber's picture

March 11, 2021 at 07:28 am

The agent will confer with his player, but it's always the player's call. He needs to put his name on the line and he decides whose offer he ultimately takes.

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Guam's picture

March 11, 2021 at 07:47 am

Agreed its the player's final decision, but a good agent gives his client options to review. Rosenhaus will only have options if he waits for other teams to bid.

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dobber's picture

March 11, 2021 at 01:35 pm

I'd like to think that a good agent will bring any offer that meets any minimum set parameters to his client.

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ImaPayne's picture

March 10, 2021 at 02:16 pm

Ya that draft and develop is fine for sending well conditioned, well trained players to another team to reap the benefits of the players prime time years while the packers save money by bringing in another guy to train and develop. The later of which will make mistakes, be unproductive for a while and waste what years Rodgers has left in packer land.

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Big_Mel_75's picture

March 10, 2021 at 02:41 pm

Let's not forget that Jones wasn't the starter under MM. Jones wasn't special till MLF got the HC job. Jones has been injured 3 of the 4 years. They rotated his snaps to keep him fresh and healthy and still got hurt. So give me Jamaal Williams for a couple mil a year contract with AJ Dillion..

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Dragon5's picture

March 10, 2021 at 02:54 pm

Since Jones & Dillon didn't share rotations in games last year, it's hard to say how Dillon will measure up given his different running style. Clearly there is a large void when JWill becomes the lead back...I liken it to a visual of stagnant water. Gute committed the draft capital to Dillon, so I believe he will now fall on his sword at this point and tell Mr. Jones "Good Luck & Thank You."

Cameron Sutton has been PIT's top graded corner the last 2 years. The hearsay money offered to Jones can secure Sutton...estimates are $7m / per.

I'm all for the the OL & DL solidly addressed in the upcoming draft, but today I finally saw a mock (other than my own lol) that has the Packers taking slot WR D'Wayne Eskridge...he continues to move up boards and should he crack the 4.2s, late second round may be wishful thinking.

https://www.fantasypros.com/2021/03/mike-taglieres-2021-nfl-mock-draft-2...

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Stroh's picture

March 10, 2021 at 07:46 pm

The mistake would be paying Jones big money! The smart move is to let another team pay him the big money and run him into the ground in 2 years!

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Ryan3468's picture

March 10, 2021 at 02:55 pm

Aaron Jones is a gadget player. A running back can carry the load. Aaron Jones has never been that guy. He has been a super version of Tony Fisher. He would be a perfect third down specialist.

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Stroh's picture

March 10, 2021 at 07:49 pm

Pretty much similar thinking, though Jones can be more than a 3rd down specialist. But he has to have his work managed, like McCarthy abd LaFleur have done.

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Gman1976's picture

March 10, 2021 at 03:05 pm

It was a mistake not to tag Jones. If he was disgruntled for making $8 or $9M, so be it. He would still play his heart out and still would have plenty for retirement. No tag, no draft pick if he signs elsewhere.

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Bear's picture

March 10, 2021 at 04:04 pm

Comp pick next year.

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Stroh's picture

March 10, 2021 at 07:51 pm

You simply DO NOT pay small, injury prone RB big monet! That would be the mistake!

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Lphill's picture

March 10, 2021 at 04:28 pm

MM hardly used him and as pointed out he never had more than 20 carries in a game, his best may still be to come and the Packers will let him walk , so typical iof the Packers , big mistake , this will come back to haunt them.

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stockholder's picture

March 10, 2021 at 05:25 pm

Don't expect a RB early. Gute doesn't have the balls to take a rb now.

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Coldworld's picture

March 10, 2021 at 06:01 pm

You think Jones is a bell cow back? I’m not with you on that. For a game or two definitely, but it would be a short career.

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Stroh's picture

March 10, 2021 at 07:55 pm

McCarthy managed his snaps just like LaFleur has! Only difference was Jones took his conditioning more serious and didn't miss as many games due to injury! That had nothing to do with who was coaching him! Even that didn't allow him to play every game last year!

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Stroh's picture

March 10, 2021 at 07:17 pm

If Jones leaves in FA, which I've insisted for ages is likely, his longevity will depend on the team, not Jones. He already has shown he's injury prone, even when his workload is managed. If his new team uses him like a legit #1 RB, he won't make it through 2 seasons and he won't see the end of his contract. He needs to be a part of a RB by committee. But if he's paid top dollar his new team is going to keep him on thd field too much.

If he stays in GB, he will be in a rotation and much more likely to see the end of his 2nd contract. On another team, I give him 2 yrs before he suffers a significant injury and likely released well before his contract ends.

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4thandinches's picture

March 10, 2021 at 09:54 pm

Show me an athlete who has bet against themself. I can't blame 33 for taking the contract with the most guaranteed money.

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Stroh's picture

March 10, 2021 at 10:06 pm

Of course not. There are no guarantees either way. And you need to get as much as possible in guarantees. I won't blame him. But then again you can make the case that being able to last thru the full contract nets you more money in the end.

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Crankbait's picture

March 11, 2021 at 05:59 am

Did well for who? The team he is playing for next? What good is it to us?

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alex's picture

June 02, 2021 at 09:32 am

That is the question...

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