Cory's Corner: McCaffrey's Contract May Impact Jones

The Packers may want to target a running back a bit earleir in the draft than they had planned. 

And the reason is Christian McCaffrey's new contract which pays him $16 million a year — making him the highest-paid running back in NFL history. 

I think Aaron Jones is incredible. What he has proven in a short amount of time is amazing and I still think there is a lot of untapped potential. However, that contract that the Panthers gave to McCaffrey just made the entire running back position smile.

McCaffrey's contract actually reminds me of Ahman Green's overpriced four-year, $23 million contract with the Texans. In 2007, many were upset that the Packers didn't bring Green back, but Green didn't finish out that contract and actually came back to Green Bay after two years. 

Obviously, Green was 30 when he signed that contract in Houston and McCaffrey will be 24 at the start of this season. However, the fact remains: the running back window closes dreadfully fast. 

And even if Jones has 12-15 touchdowns this season, there's no way the Packers are going to give him even $9 million a year. Jones is running for his first big contract, which is huge for a guy that was drafted in the fifth round. But unless Jones can prove that he's a consistent three-down back like other elite runners from McCaffrey to Ezekiel Elliott, the Packers will be forced to think about the future at running back.

And that means the Packers could have their sights on taking J.K. Dobbins in the second round. After taking a receiver in the first round, Green Bay could be in position to take Jones' successor purely out of financial reasons. The Packers pick third to last in the second round, so if Dobbins is still on the board, you could easily make an argument to take the shifty and smart Ohio State back.

The question is, how will McCaffrey's whale of a contract impact other teams? Will other teams be looking to retool at running back just because the running back market is going to go through the roof at the end of the season? 

Jones is arguably the best running back in the NFC North and a top five back in the NFC. In Mike McCarthy's final season, he only got 159 touches, even though he showed a lot of flashes. Last year, in Matt LaFleur's rookie season, Jones had 285 touches — which showcased his versatility. 

The Packers have two weeks to decide if they can shoehorn a great Jones' season in their budget. Otherwise, general manager Brian Gutekunst and Co. need to start thinking about the future. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (18)

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Boneman's picture

April 14, 2020 at 06:50 am

The need to try and sign Bahk and KC to extensions, their recent FA signings and AR's huge contract kicking in... I have a hard time seeing them resign Jones. Salary cap sadness. This is a new regime in GB and they want to run the ball. I absolutely see them drafting a RB in the first three rounds. I absolutely see a trade back from 30 and then package their extra late rounders to try and get more picks in rounds 2 or 3 to maximize their ability to draft offense. I see them drafting offense exclusively in those early rounds as we desperately need more talent on that side of the ball.

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dobber's picture

April 14, 2020 at 09:08 am

I think you're right in that a small trade-down from #30 could net a really good player and an extra day 2 pick--but I think they should use #30 unless they have a broad list of prospects they really like there and can still get later.

IF the Packers packaged up all their 5th-7th round picks, the draft value charts say the best they could get in return is a 4th rounder. With the needs they have, those 5th and 6th round picks can turn into valuable players at positions that tend to be deep but draft late: RB, CB, IOL (or T conversion projects).

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 14, 2020 at 01:44 pm

They can use 2021 picks to move around the board. See if Gutedkunst gets creative.

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dobber's picture

April 14, 2020 at 02:32 pm

Given the uncertainty of the fall sports seasons, my guess is that 2021 picks are like monopoly money at this point. The numbers sound good, but they have no real value.

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stockholder's picture

April 14, 2020 at 07:13 am

The Packers shouldn't TARGET anybody. They Have to many Needs/Possibilities Everywhere. Either you go Defense or you get great offense. Dobbins will be the best player on the board @62. So Take Him! Getting the best player regardless of position can only improve the roster. The more guys you can trust with the football, the better the Outlook.

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dobber's picture

April 14, 2020 at 09:11 am

"The Packers shouldn't TARGET anybody."

Agreed. The draft is a fluid entity. BG and the rest of the braintrust get big bucks to play out pretty much every scenario both in draft and post draft.

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stockholder's picture

April 14, 2020 at 10:20 am

That might not be the case in the 1st round. But it does hold true for the rest of "this" draft.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 14, 2020 at 07:41 am

I don't think the Packers should draft with the salary cap in mind, at least not at the forefront. They do need IOL depth, so perhaps looking a round earlier might be wise. Not at all sure I want to use a round 1 to 3 pick on a running back. Jones on the Franchise tag wouldn't be terrible, but it is still $10M plus, or on a transition tag, still $8.5M plus. The NFL averages the five highest salaries and uses the franchise tag numbers for the five previous seasons on the non-exclusive tag (two first rounders), so it won't jump astronomically.

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Leatherhead's picture

April 14, 2020 at 10:46 am

Way too early to talk about next offseason.

The RB in this draft that I would most like to add is Zack Moss. He’s a smash mouth guy. The majority of projections I’ve seen have him going in the 75-115 range.

Jones has every incentive to have the best possible year, and if I were running the show, I’d give him the ball a lot. I think it’s his last year in Green Bay so I hope he has a great last year here.

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stockholder's picture

April 14, 2020 at 11:15 am

Zack Moss -Good Back . The concern is the mileage. Archie Griffen? That has him dropping. closer to 115.

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ricky's picture

April 14, 2020 at 10:02 am

I'd already been planning on a Jones-less Packers once his contract ran out. The Panthers are stupid for overpaying McCaffrey. They will have buyer's remorse very quickly, since the shelf life of a RB that is used a lot is pretty short. See DeMarco Murray in Dallas- overused for a few seasons, put up great numbers, then was so badly beaten up he faded quickly. McCaffrey will see the same fate- because if you're paying a guy that much money, he's not going to be a decoy, but a primary part of the offense. The same thing is going to happen with Henry in Tennessee. He's going to get run into the ground, and the team will simply move on to the next RB to abuse.

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Leatherhead's picture

April 14, 2020 at 10:49 am

I agree, Ricky. If you’re going to pay big money for a back, he’d better be having a HOF career.

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PeteK's picture

April 14, 2020 at 12:47 pm

Unless they're both as durable as Peterson, Gore , or Tomlinson.

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Tarynfor12's picture

April 14, 2020 at 12:06 pm

The FO must already have an idea as to what other teams value is of Jones and what happens to that value based of Jones contributions this season. I don't envision Jones taking the home town discount that is so often hoped here as the time for truly good RB's to get paid shrinks with every passing season. I would not be shocked to see GB take a RB on day two and no later than the first pick in round 4. The MLF scheme needs it's RB's like Jones but the cost will have Jones walking away from GB next year, regardless of the contribution good or bad. A Catch-22 for GB and Jones.

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TheVOR's picture

April 14, 2020 at 01:38 pm

Once again we agree, been saying that if the best RB in the draft is there at 30, that's not a bad pick for GB. The team has needs all over the place, DL, ILB is obvious, WR, OL, RB are certainly in there! But if the best positional player (RB) in the draft is there at 30, I wouldn't shy away from making that pick.

I've always said, all teams have holes, and if you can successfully select a #1 pick that starts, and or contributes at a very high level, you have to make that pick, and sometimes that pick doesn't always perfectly align with the most glaring need. If as a GM you're always making the Glaring need pick, in my mind that's likely more of a forced pick, and often doesn't make the impact you need them to.

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 14, 2020 at 01:49 pm

Move the chains, own the clock, score points.

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Leatherhead's picture

April 14, 2020 at 06:09 pm

So simple, with a proven record of success, but we dearly love our QB for slinging it.

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AmericanJackal's picture

April 14, 2020 at 01:25 pm

Regardless, Rodgers self serving contract will ensure that top grade talent cannot be signed or kept. I know you all hate the truth but we won’t win another title paying this dude 34 million a year. He will end up on another team in 3-4 years, and take a team friendly contract and I guarantee it won’t be the Pack. On that note stay safe and well everybody!

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