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What Will the Free Agent Market be for Packers’ Back Aaron Jones?

,As many know by now, Tom Brady and the Tampa Buccaneers went into Lambeau Field and defeated the Green Bay Packers in this years NFC Championship game by a final score of 31-26.

After this past Sunday’s game, there was a lot to digest. There can be -and already has been- plenty of chatter about the penalties, coaching decisions, and even Aaron Rodgers’ future.

But with that being said, I am here to discuss the future of another Green Bay Packer: running back Aaron Jones.

The former Texas Longhorn was originally drafted by Green Bay in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but has shown he was worthy of a much higher selection. As Green Bay’s “featured back” over the past two seasons (about 15 rushes per game), Jones has put up monster numbers. The 26-year-old has scored 30 total touchdowns over the last two seasons, all while accumulating a total of 3,017 yards from scrimmage.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Game Game Rush Rush Rush Rush Rush Rush Rush Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Tota
Year Age Tm G GS Rush Yds TD Lng Y/A Y/G A/G Tgt Rec Yds TD Lng YScm RRTD
2019 25 GNB 16 16 236 1084 16 56 4.6 67.8 14.8 68 49 474 3 67 1558 19
2020* 26 GNB 14 14 201 1104 9 77 5.5 78.9 14.4 63 47 355 2 30 1459 11
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/27/2021.
Jones has been consistently good since being drafted into the league. I am sure the Packers would love to have him in the backfield during the 2021 season: the only issue is that Jones is a free agent.
Although Jones has been as good as they come over the past two years, the idea of him returning to the Packers is one that does not seem like it will happen. Is out of the realm of possibilities? No, but there are multiple factors that make it easy to assume Jones has played his last snap with Green Bay.
First of all, the Packers drafted a running back A.J. Dillon in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. No team drafts a running back that high to have them ride the bench the length of their rookie contract. So with that being said, Dillon will most likely be main horse for Green Bay next year.
Jones is hitting the open market and will have plenty of suitors. The evaluation of the running back position has been somewhat of a volatile topic over the past few years, but Jones is the type of playmaker that teams will give a hefty contract to.
Whether that is considered the right or wrong decision is besides the point. The point is that Green Bay will not be offering Jones anything close to his $14 million a year market value. That is especially true considering the Packers have a pretty tough cap situation on their hands.
So, with the Packers most likely out on Jones, where will the touchdown machine land? What team will be willing to pay a free agent running back $10+ million a year? Well, there are a few options.
The New York Jets have the cap space and the need, but I’m not sure they want to dip their toe back in the running back market after what happened with Le’Veon Bell. The Arizona Cardinals could be another option with Kenyan Drake headed for free agency, but the redbirds already have a dynamic back in Chase Edmunds on their roster. Other places to consider include the Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers. The problem with them is that they are in a similar cap situation that Green Bay is in.
Undoubtedly, free agent dominoes will have to fall before the running back market heats up. A lot of teams are trying to dig themselves out of a money hole, and who knows what they plan to do in free agency if they get out of that spot. Maybe that means paying Jones, maybe that means they go full rebuild.
Only time will tell what happens throughout this offseason. I mean, for crying out loud a 25-year-old superstar quarterback might be traded in a few weeks. So as fun it is to picture where Jones will be suiting  next year, the answer will not be coming any time soon.

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– Jarrod Ribaudo (@jarrod_ribaudo on Twitter)

Featured image courtesy of Twitter / @AroundTheNFL

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