Could this be the final season for Jones in Green Bay?
One season after finishing 13-3, the Green Bay Packers are looking to finish the job and return to the Super Bowl for this first time in a decade. Even if the team doesn’t complete their goal, they’re building the foreground for the future with Aaron Rodgers and potentially first-round quarterback Jordan Love.
The franchise recently extended tackle David Bakhtiari to a brand new, four-year, $103.5 million contract extension earlier this month. But while Green Bay will keep their blindside protector, this won’t bode well when it comes to free agency.
General manager Brian Gutekunst will be forced to make several difficult decisions this offseason if the team remains over the projected cap space limit. This also will likely force Green Bay to allow several key free agents to walk this upcoming offseason to other teams.
Some will be replaceable, but the production of Aaron Jones might be the most significant loss to look out for.
Jones won’t grab top dollar in the frozen tundra
Drafted out of UTEP, Jones has exceedingly surpassed his draft grade expectations. Last season, the former Miner dug his way into top-tier running back conversations after posting 1,558 scrimmage yards and 19 total touchdowns on offense.
This year, Jones picked up where he left off, tallying 493 rushing yards, 231 receiving yards and seven total touchdowns in seven games. He’s also second in receptions with 28 behind Devante Adams. In four years with the Packers, Jones has tallied 112 total catches, placing him second in that span behind the Pro Bowl receiver.
With players like Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook, New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara and Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey earning lucrative deals this offseason, Jones will be expecting a hefty check this offseason. The Packers will be trying to find players to cut outright or restructure deals in order to remain at the salary cap limit. Barring a franchise tag, Jones likely will be looking for work elsewhere for 2021.
Keep in mind Green Bay drafted AJ Dillon in the second round for a reason. Not only will Jones be entering free agency, but secondary runner Jamaal Williams also is set to hit the open market come March of 2021. However, there’s little evidence to prove the former Boston College star is ready to handle a bulk of the carries.
The NFL’s salary cap structure will be taking a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unless Gutekunst frees up ample cap space, Jones should be playing his best to show another team he’s worth every penny of a mega-deal.