Cory's Corner: What If You Are Aaron Jones...

Aaron Jones becomes a free agent in 2021. He has some tough decisions about his future. 

Imagine you are Aaron Jones. 

You become an unrestricted free agent after this season. As Jones enters his fourth pro season, he has accumulated just $1.9 million — a bargain for a guy that broke the Packers record with 23 total touchdowns last year. 

Now, if everything was normal, you'd just play this season out and then wait for a team to come calling with a huge payday. 

However, we all know things haven't normal since the middle of March. Thanks to COVID-19, the salary cap will likely take a tumble next year and potentially the year after that. With no fans in the stands and nobody to buy food or merchandise, teams will see plenty of lost income. Many teams, like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Chargers, have been bailed out by network TV money, but a season with zero or even limited fans will change the playing field.

And here's the next issue: a loaded free agent running back class. Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Alvin Kamara, Phillip Lindsay, Marlon Mack, Kenyan Drake and Jones are all free agents after this season. Derrick Henry was also a member of that list before signing a four-year, $50 million deal right before Wednesday's franchise tag deadline. That's an amazing list of running back talent, plus Clemson's Travis Etienne, Memphis' Kenny Gainwell, Oklahoma State's Chuba Hubbard, Mississippi State's Kylin Hill and Alabama's Najee Harris will make it even harder for general managers to decide what to do. All of those guys are set to enter the 2021 NFL Draft. 

So, like I said before. Imagine you're Jones. Do you bet on yourself to have a big year or do you sign a deal now to avoid the dropping salary cap and the glut of free agent and rookie talent?

That's a tough decision. If it were me, I'd want to sign now just to get out in front of the lower salary cap structure next year. He could also bet on himself by loading it with plenty of incentives for total touchdowns and total yards per game. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Jones is the fulcrum of the Packers' offense. He is a versatile weapon that can do just about anything on a football field. Unfortunately, his health concerns are the only thing that should be holding the Packers back. Jones has had three knee MCL sprains — two in his right and one in his left. He also has suffered from a hamstring sprain. The Packers may want to see if he can make it through every game of 2020 just like he did in 2019. 

And that may be why Jones may want to bet on himself. If the Packers are forced to trim their salary for next year, I don't see them giving him less than what he deserves if he is both productive and healthy. 

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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 (36)

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Guam's picture

July 15, 2020 at 05:11 pm

Between the Packers salary cap issues in 2021, the league salary cap problems over the next 2-3 years and the glut of free agent RB's, I think Aaron Jones (and a bunch of other players) is not going to get the kind of contract he is hoping for. Unfortunate since he is an excellent back, but these are troubled times.

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CheesyTex's picture

July 15, 2020 at 06:25 pm

Time for Roger Stokoe Goodell to earn his bread. Why not go cap-free for 2-3 years and let the teams concentrate on football and player safety?

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Stroh's picture

July 16, 2020 at 12:20 am

Cuz then the owners lose hundreds of Millions. As it is the packers might lose 50-100M or more in the next year ot 2. Goodell works for the owners. And owners didn't become billionaires by sitting by and allowing themselves to lose 100M.

There is also the little thing that they have a collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA. Both the players and owners have to share the losses, just like they shared the revenue.

Whay about all this don't you understand?! It about as common sense as it gets!

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NickPerry's picture

July 16, 2020 at 09:01 am

WHY do you always have to end your comments with a insult OR some kind of aggressive comment? I've been here for 12 years or so and have watched you get kicked off numerous times. It's too bad because you do have some knowledge to contribute, but at 55 years old (or whatever age you are now) you still insist on acting like your the smartest on ANY site with your comments.

For example...Why couldn't you have just left this part off?

"Whay about all this don't you understand?! It about as common sense as it gets!"

What exactly is the point of that? Just why even go there, you made good points with the first 2 paragraphs.

BTW... I think you meant WHAT and not WHAY.

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Stroh's picture

July 16, 2020 at 09:31 am

Because if you have no common sense I ha e no use for you. Like you!

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CheesyTex's picture

July 16, 2020 at 01:11 pm

Thanks Nick Perry.

Question: What does absence of a salary cap have to do with the "...good points with the first 2 paragraphs." To my mind, any losses incurred by the owners will come primarily from revenue shortfalls. As to the CBA, both the owners and the players' association have a vested interest in making things work throughout the CoVid epidemic. As such, they will have to work it out.

It occurred to me that lifting the cap during the epidemic might be one less issue for the league to face. Obviously, not right. Please enlighten me as to why those were "good points".

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Stroh's picture

July 16, 2020 at 07:13 pm

I AM the smartest on every site.

It wasn't an insult either. I asked a question and pointed out the fact it was common sense.

Trust me, if I was insulting you, or anyone, they would know.

Oh and i I don't claim to be a good typist on computer or ph. But you can hang your hat that your a better typist. Congrats on that.

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CheesyTex's picture

July 16, 2020 at 07:10 pm

Stroh: My question was directed to Nick Perry.

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13TimeChamps's picture

July 16, 2020 at 08:12 pm

Well if you were that smart, you wouldn't be drinking that crappy beer. Do they even brew that garbage anymore?

So you have horrible taste in beer. Congrats on that.

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Stroh's picture

July 17, 2020 at 05:49 pm

I dontdrink that crappy beer! It just became my nickname.

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Oppy's picture

July 17, 2020 at 08:40 pm

When you believe you are the smartest man in the room, the only thing you can be assured of is that you are the most foolish.

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stockholder's picture

July 15, 2020 at 06:24 pm

If I was Arron Jones. ?? I'd play out my contract and go elsewhere. But since the market is full. And I Love the Packers. I'll accept a 7 mil. Bonus up front. Increase my salary this year to 5 mil. and 5 mil. next year.

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nstewart1's picture

July 15, 2020 at 07:13 pm

Given the insane amounts of money we're talking about, and the increasing awareness that throwing even more insane amounts towards RBs infrequently proves to not be a good investment, I could easily see Jones taking a reasonable deal from the Packers and becoming set for life.
You can always say "get it while you can", but they could be one injury away from being out of football - not to mention the Cap ramifications for the next couple of years.

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Stroh's picture

July 16, 2020 at 12:28 am

Jones taking a reasonable contract is the best alternative. I would guess he'll have to accept a 6M average. Maybe 4 yrs 25M. No chance the Packers are going to give Jones anything close to Henry or McCaffrey type money.

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Turophile's picture

July 16, 2020 at 02:18 am

Given his talent that is a totally unreasonable contract. Closer would be $9m pa (and that takes account of the glut of good RBs on the market after the 2020 season). I'm not saying the Packers would pay that, just that his worth is closer to that than the absurdly low $6m.

His Spotrac calculated value is $13.1m pa !

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murf7777's picture

July 16, 2020 at 08:25 am

I’m not sure how accurate spotrac is as I don’t think Jones value will be anywhere near 13M. I also think he would be wise to sign a 6 million 4 year extension with 12 M guaranteed prior to season start if offered to him by the Packers. This would give him a raise this year with 12 M in his pocket regardless of his performance and/or he gets injured again. If he misses a large part of this year his value gets substantially reduced, especially with the glut of RB’s coming onto the market. I can’t remember the last time so many very good RB’s hit the market at the same time.

The proverb stating one in hand is better then two in bush is sounds advice for Jones.

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Stroh's picture

July 16, 2020 at 09:38 am

That would be my number. I could care less what sportrac thinks and I'm pretty sure the Packers don't give a damn either. If he doesn't accept it let him walk. He's going to have to accept the the Packers contract. I wouldn't even negotiate. This is our offer, take it or leave it. They drafted Dillon and RB are a dime a dozen.

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murf7777's picture

July 16, 2020 at 11:40 am

I'm not sure they are a "dime a dozen", but they are certainly devalued from the time prior to the rule changes that made the NFL more of a passing league. You can certainly find great talent in draft round 2 -5 on high consistency level. That helps devalue the position as you don't need to use high draft capital or use high level SC to have a solid running game. I also agree that the Packers drafted Dillon with the thought of Jones contract negotiations pending. They are being smart so they don't use too much SC on the RB position.

The majority of the consistently winning franchises since the rule changes stay away from large RB contracts. Thankfully, we are one of them. That being said, If Jones would do a Packer friendly extension prior to the start of the year, I'm all for it.

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13TimeChamps's picture

July 16, 2020 at 12:01 pm

I hardly think running backs who total (including 2 playoff games) 1707 yards and 23 TDs are a "dime a dozen".

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Stroh's picture

July 16, 2020 at 02:53 pm

While it nothing to laugh at, its hardly great. Where did total yards rank league wide. Ahman Green had a few seasons that were better. Like 2300 or 2400 in '03. The TDs are not sustainable and likely just transferring TDs by Rodgers arm.

He's similar to Austin Eckler for the Chargers.

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13TimeChamps's picture

July 16, 2020 at 04:05 pm

I never claimed he was all-world. But I stand by my claim that finishing 8th in total yards and tied for 1st in TD's doesn't put him in the 'dime a dozen' category that you've delegated him to.

If that were true, why has it taken the Packers years of drafts to finally come up with an Aaron Jones? They should have been able to do that at least every other year, considering they're a dime a dozen.

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Leatherhead's picture

July 16, 2020 at 05:53 pm

He’s a good back. He’s not a dime a dozen guy.

Why has it taken the Packers years of drafts to get a guy like Jones? Because all backs look the same without the ball. The priority has always been:

1) must be able to pass block.
2). Ball security
3 ). Receiving skills

And lastly, 4). Running ability. I guess you could add “cheap”. We don’t spend much here.

The idea of using these guys as the primary offensive weapon is new to Green Bay. Didn’t Jones and Williams have over 2000 combined yards and about 25 TDs? And now we’ve added Dillon?

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Turophile's picture

July 17, 2020 at 06:45 am

Stroh. You may not care what Spotrac thinks, and the figure I put forward (at $9m pa) was $4m less than the $13m pa Spotrac suggested. Bleacher Report suggests about $11m pa (actually $45m over 4 years). You probably don't care what they say, either.

But while you don't care what others say, $6m pa won't get it done with Jones when he can get AT LEAST 50% more elsewhere. Jones is NOT as you say "going to have to accept the Packers contract".

Fans generally want players to accept lowball contracts because then their team has more money to play with, but every player has the right to seek as much money as others are willing to pay. If you always play the hardest hardball with good players, guess what happens over time (hint: you lose your good players).

As for letting him go, you seem very forceful, even aggressive about dumping Jones. My take is much more a "I'm rather sad to see a very good player go, but that is the harsh reality of NFL business". While teams have to be pretty ruthless in hiring/firing players, fans need not be so cavalier as to use such uncaring language.

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Stroh's picture

July 17, 2020 at 06:10 pm

I don't think there is a chance in hell the Packers offer close to your 9M contract. First they don't have the cap room for it. Secondly Jones isn't durable enough to handle 20 touches a game. And with drafting Dillon he won't get that mant many touches. Even LaFleur managed his touches last year just like McCarthy did. Only difference was he happened to stay healthy.

Dillon and Jones should share the load, even this year. Are you willing to pay a part time player 9M per year? I'm certainly not!

See i consider all these elements in coming up with the 6M number. I don't let emotions enter into the equation as you certainly seem to be.

And this isn't even considering the number of FA RB that might be available and the draft. RB are just to easily replaced. And while I like Jones and want to keep him, he is replaceable. Even if the production isn't quite as much it would be close and MUCH cheaper.

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gkarl's picture

July 16, 2020 at 07:49 am

I've been in favor of offering Jones an Eckler type of contract for awhile 4yrs 24M. That would be good for Jones given the current state of the NFL. As for the GBP it could end up being a great deal but it will force their hand on some of the other FA. I think hes to young and valuable to offense to just let walk without some offer.

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Turophile's picture

July 17, 2020 at 06:56 am

I've said it elsewhere in this thread and I'll repeat it here, if you think $6m pa will get a deal done, you don't have a good grip on reality. $6m pa is NOT a good deal for Jones, even given the many RB FAs, that will be available.......... far from it.

If the Packers and Jones don't come to a deal (and that seems very likely at the moment) then he will go elsewhere, but not for a paltry (relative to his talent) $6m per annum. Let's not be so delusional as to pretend he will sign with the Packers for that kind of money.

As I said elsewhere, bump that number up by 50% (to $9m) and you are closer to a realistic number, and he might get a deal a little over that. I don't think the Packers will pay that, with the other guys (Clark, Bakhtiari) due big paydays.

I'll be sorry if he goes elsewhere given the talent he has, but that's life in the NFL.

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Leatherhead's picture

July 17, 2020 at 11:07 am

The $6 million is about half of what he’ll be offered. If I were his agent, and he wanted to sign for that, I’d quit.

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Stroh's picture

July 17, 2020 at 06:16 pm

Jones isn't even capable of being a true #1 RB and getting 20 touches. That's a large payof why thw drafted Dillon. Crazy is paying 9M per for a part time RB. That borders on corporate irresponsibility!

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Oppy's picture

July 18, 2020 at 08:51 am

So he's a RB that was relegated to part-time play, but he managed to total more touchdowns than any other RB in 2019- including the guys who are bonafide stud RB's and are taking near 100% of the snaps.

I think you may be missing this part of the equation. Aaron Jones produced more on the scoreboard with less play time. Assuming he doesn't fall off, that won't go unnoticed by other teams.

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Stroh's picture

July 16, 2020 at 09:46 am

I think you meant FREQUENTLY proves to not be good. Look around at recent RB signing big contracts. They rarely work out well. Laveon Bell. Todd Gurley. You could even include Zeke, because you know Dallas isn't happy even tho he's been productive, they now are hamstrung with Dak.

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PeteK's picture

July 16, 2020 at 08:48 am

Henry's contract with 25 mill guarantee and a very crowded market ,bodes well for us for a lower contract. Play out the year and let's see how all our rbs perform. Dillon and Jones having good seasons would make for a difficult ,but advantageous problem. I am looking forward to Dillon's ( Brockington like) play. August will be an important month as we see how all the pro sports fare. As far as the virus, nothing but Packer fans can survive in the frozen tundra. LOL

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wildbill's picture

July 16, 2020 at 09:24 pm

OMG if Dillion plays like Brockington we would have a great running attack with him and Jones. Brockington and Lane were a joy to watch, thanks for jogging those memories

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Leatherhead's picture

July 16, 2020 at 09:38 am

If I’m Aaron Jones, I play as well as I possibly can and then sign for the most guaranteed money I could get. Then I’d pray to stay healthy and retire before I’m 30 as a multimillionaire..

Injuries ended his first two seasons and it could happen again. Let’s see what happens before we start committing resources.

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murf7777's picture

July 16, 2020 at 11:43 am

I think it depends how much resources it would take. If it is a Packer friendly extension, say around 6M per, I'd strongly consider that prior to the start of the year.

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TheVOR's picture

July 17, 2020 at 01:39 pm

I think Jones is going to look great in Purple (OK, lighten up, that's ..kind of a bad joke with a large sized vein of truth running thru it).. Really like this young man, but I don't see it happening in GB. Regardless of where he ends up, he earned it. Hope he has a fantastic season and a lot success in his future. Glad he got a chance in the NFL and with GB. Decent football player, has been fun to watch.. This is what happens when you have the elite QB and you have to pay him. It simply has to be why they drafted Love.. Hope the dude can play because I see GB moving on from Rodgers, just probably not soon enough to save guy's like Jones and Clark..

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tonieEllwand's picture

July 27, 2020 at 08:43 am

That may be why Jones may want to bet on himself.

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