Aaron Jones is at the head of the free agent running back class. The Packers should pay him anyways.
Cautionary are the tales of Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell. Running backs who exploded on the NFL scene, commanded top dollar “or else”, then realized a dip in production.
As bargain-friendly as rookie contracts are, a second contract for a running back can be equally damaging in value. I get it.
Jones’s market value will likely exceed what the Packers are able to pay on a multi-year basis. I get it.
Multi-year contracts aren’t the only way for a team to secure a player, however. It’s not common for the Packers to use the franchise tag, but they should consider using it on Jones.
In 2019, Jones was the Packers most explosive paly-making threat. When Davante Adams went out with an injury, Jones led the team in receiving.
In 2020, Jones combined for 1,459 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns in earning pro-bowl honors.
But Aaron Jones’s value goes well beyond the numbers. He is a perfect fit in Matt LaFleur’s multi-back system. Unlike Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon, Jones has true home-run hitting potential. Williams will escape in free agency, leaving Dillon as the perfect compliment to Jones’s slashing ability.
Jones’s versatility, consistency and overall production is unique. In the prime of his career, Jones deserves to be paid in the neighborhood of the highest-paid running backs in the NFL.
In what could be the final season for Aaron Rodgers at quarterback in Green Bay, the Packers need to figure out a way to stock the cupboard with as many weapons as possible.
Jones should be at the top of the Packers list.