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NFL Draft

Impact Of Aaron Jones Re-Signing With Packers

  • The Draft Network
  • March 14, 2021
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Deadlines spur action, and less than 24 hours before the NFL’s legal tampering window opened up the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Jones agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal that will prevent the 26-year-old running back from hitting the open market. The deal includes a $13 million signing bonus.

“We anticipated bigger offers in free agency, but Aaron wanted to stay with the Packers,” agent Drew Rosenhaus told reporters upon releasing the details of the newly-inked contract.

While Jones returning to Green Bay isn’t a massive surprise, it seemed less likely than ever just a few days prior to the multi-year pact when the Packers elected not to place the franchise tag on the former fifth-round pick. While the exact intricate details of the deal and official salary cap numbers aren’t known at publish time, it’s likely Jones’ cap hit for 2021 exceeds the franchise tag number.

For context among other recent running back deals, Derrick Henry signed a four-year, $50 million deal with $25.5 million guaranteed last offseason to remain with the Tennessee Titans. Le'Veon Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million deal with $27 million guaranteed to join the New York Jets in 2019.

Jones has emerged as a major piece of the Packers’ offense over the last two seasons, finding the end zone a whopping 30 times in that span (including a league-high 19 in 2019). Jones set a new career high in rushing yards (1,104) in 2020, averaging 11.1 rushing yards per game more than his previous best season. 

In the receiving game, Jones has served as Aaron Rodgers’ de facto No. 2 pass-catcher in an offense that desperately needs weapons alongside top receiver Davante Adams. Jones finished second on the team in targets in each of the last two seasons and top five in receiving yards as well. Until and unless the Packers invest money or early draft capital in a true complement for Adams, Jones’ role in Green Bay’s offense will continue to be absolutely vital. Rodgers has been highly complimentary of Jones’ attitude and skill set and likely played a significant role in making sure Jones didn’t leave for the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, or any of the other running back-needy teams with money to spend in free agency.

The questions about Green Bay’s 2020 draft will only grow larger with this re-signing, as the Packers still won’t have a featured role available for second-round pick A.J. Dillon—or first-round pick Jordan Love, who will be tethered to the bench behind Rodgers. However, 2020 draft aside, the return of Jones is what’s best for the Packers’ Super Bowl hopes this upcoming season after back-to-back NFC Championship appearances.

Fantasy Football Impact

Despite his touchdown regression from 19 to 11 year over year, Jones finished as the RB4 in average fantasy points per game (18.5) and the RB5 overall in PPR leagues in 2020. That marked the second consecutive season in which Jones finished as a top-five running back. With Jamaal Williams likely leaving in free agency—subsequently opening up more passing-down snaps for Jones—there’s no reason to believe Jones can’t go for a three-peat as a top-five player at his position. My way-too-early-rankings place him in the top half of the first round, behind only Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, and Alvin Kamara in PPR formats.

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