Aaron Jones

Latest On Aaron Jones, Corey Linsley

The Packers have not dusted off their franchise tag in a while, last using it on nose tackle Ryan Pickett in 2010. They may be on the verge of a change in offseason strategy.

Beginning his fourth offseason as GM, Brian Gutekunst has top-tier free agents Aaron Jones and Corey Linsley barely a week away from being able to negotiate with other teams for the first time. An All-Pro center, Linsley expects to test the market. This would leave Jones in the tag crosshairs.

We certainly could (tag Jones). I think it’s something we’re working through. Again, it’s not a philosophical thing to avoid it,” Gutekunst said of using the tag, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “I do think there’s usually better ways to go about it, but certainly if I think as we get down the road here over the next week or so, if that becomes what is in the best interest of the Packers, I think we’ll do that. But at this point, we haven’t done that.”

It cost the Titans $10.3MM to tag Derrick Henry last year, though the sides reached an extension agreement on deadline day last July. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s anticipated impact on the 2021 cap, the Packers may have the opportunity to tag Jones at barely $8MM. This would be a difficult scenario for Jones, who saw fellow 2017 draftees Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon cash in — all on deals worth at least $12MM annually — last year. But it would allow the Packers an unusual way to retain one of the best players.

The Packers and Jones negotiated extensively last year, and the 25-year-old running back changed agents during the process. An offer that would have paid Jones at least $12MM annually did not result in a deal. That proposal was light on guarantees, however. The team has until March 9 to tag Jones. Green Bay RB2 Jamaal Williams is expected to depart via free agency, which would seemingly elevate 2020 second-round pick A.J. Dillon.

A 2014 fifth-round pick, Linsley agreed on a Packers extension that ran through 2020. Coming off an All-Pro season, Linsley appears poised to approach or surpass Ryan Kelly‘s market-topping contract ($12.4MM AAV, $25MM fully guaranteed). It does not sound like the Packers will extend him to keep him off the market by the time the legal tampering period begins March 15.

Finding a way to bring him back would be ideal, but at the same time obviously, at the level of compensation that he’s at, he’s earned that,” Gutekunst said. “We certainly would never close the door on someone like Corey Linsley. We’ll see as we get down what’s possible and what’s not.”

Going into the spring tag deadline, the Packers have work to do before being free to tag Jones. They are more than $11MM over the projected salary cap, even after a David Bakhtiari restructure and the releases of Rick Wagner and Christian Kirksey. The Packers are discussing a restructure with Aaron Rodgers, Demovsky adds.

A $6.8MM Rodgers roster bonus could be converted to a signing bonus without the quarterback’s approval, creating $4.5MM in 2021 cap space. And the Packers could also move some of Rodgers’ 2021 base salary ($14.8MM) into a signing bonus to free up more room. This would, of course, complicate matters down the road. But the NFL’s post-2021 future is unlikely to include any further cap reductions, likely making present restructures easier to stomach for teams.

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Could Packers Franchise RB Aaron Jones?

We heard earlier today that the Dolphins and Packers running back Aaron Jones, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency in March, are interested in joining forces. But Green Bay might not let Jones get away.

The Packers and Jones have been negotiating a long-term pact for about a year now, but it doesn’t sound as though the two sides are particularly close to an agreement. The club did offer Jones a contract that would have paid him like a top-five RB in terms of average annual value, but the offer was unappealing to Jones because it was lacking in significant guaranteed cash.

Nonetheless, the club is expected to bid adieu to RB2 Jamaal Williams, and given Williams’ impending departure and Jones’ importance to Green Bay’s offense, Jones might be a franchise tag candidate. Indeed, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network suggests that because this year’s franchise tag value for running backs is so low ($8MM), the Packers may be willing to carry that cost on their books if it means keeping Jones in the fold for at least one more year (video link).

Jones, an explosive playmaker as a runner and receiver who has averaged over 1,500 yards from scrimmage and 15 TDs over the past two seasons, would certainly not be happy about a franchise tag. But while the Packers still have work to do just to get under the cap, to say nothing of a potential re-up for center Corey Linsley, they have to at least give the matter some serious thought.

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Mutual Interest Between Dolphins, Aaron Jones

Needing help at a few skill-position spots, the Dolphins have identified a high-end target. They are interested in Aaron Jones, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, who notes the interest in a potential agreement is mutual.

Jones could certainly help in multiple areas, having excelled in four seasons with the Packers. The Dolphins are on Jones’ list, Jackson notes. As an up-and-coming team in a market that regularly attracts free agents, this should not be especially surprising.

Green Bay has until March 15 to negotiate exclusively with Jones. Given his pedigree as likely the top back available, the standout runner may well have a deal in place before the legal tampering period concludes. The new league year begins March 17.

The Packers and Jones went through extensive negotiations last year but could not hammer out a deal. Jones changed agents during this process. While the Packers are believed to have offered their starting back a deal that paid him north of $12MM annually, that offer was low on fully guaranteed money.

The Dolphins are also interested in bolstering their receiving corps. They are believed to be targeting both slot and boundary wide receivers, with names like Marvin Jones and T.Y. Hilton on their radar. It would be interesting to see Miami devote considerable funding to its running back spot, given the team’s needs at wide receiver. The Dolphins also return Myles Gaskin, who showed promise last season. Matt Breida is on track for free agency. While Miami has avenues to increasing its cap-space figure, the team has just more than $20MM as of Tuesday. That figure sits 10th in the league, per OverTheCap.

Although the Dolphins have been connected to a Deshaun Watson trade — which would cost tremendous draft capital — they could easily acquire a top running back prospect in the draft. The Dolphins hold four picks in the draft’s first two rounds.

In three of his four seasons, Jones has averaged 5.5 yards per carry. While he did not make the Pro Bowl in 2019, when he led the NFL with 19 touchdowns, Jones’ second straight 1,000-yard season did garner him such acclaim last season. Jones (1,104 rushing yards) averaged a career-high 78.4 yards per game in 2020. The Packers have both he and Jamaal Williams on track for free agency, with Williams likely to hit the market. The team also has All-Pro center Corey Linsley weeks away from the open market, making for a pivotal negotiating stretch for the NFC North champions.

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Packers Offered Aaron Jones Top-Five RB Salary?

Aaron Jones did not end his fourth Packers season on a high note, fumbling twice in the NFC championship game and missing time in Green Bay’s season-ending loss due to injury. The standout running back is now a few weeks away from free agency.

The Packers and their starting back engaged in extension discussions last year, but those did not go especially well. Jones changed agents and is now with Drew Rosenhaus ahead of free agency. The Packers are believed, however, to have offered Jones a deal including a top-five running back salary, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. The issue — as it often does — came down to guarantees. Big guaranteed cash was absent in Green Bay’s proposal, Demovsky adds.

A top-five running back salary would land in the $12MM range. Jones’ draft classmates Dalvin Cook ($12.6MM) and Joe Mixon ($12MM) helped set the second-tier running back market last year, with Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara joining Ezekiel Elliott on $15MM-plus-AAV deals. Derrick Henry also accepted a $12.5MM-AAV pact at the franchise tag deadline.

Everyone in this bracket has a contract including at least $16MM in full guarantees save for Mixon, whose Bengals re-up includes just $10MM guaranteed total. McCaffrey, Elliott and Henry signed for at least $25MM fully guaranteed, while Kamara’s pact includes $34MM in total guarantees.

Green Bay also has Jones change-of-pace back Jamaal Williams unsigned for 2021 but drafted A.J. Dillon in the 2020 second round. The team has not given a notable contract to a running back since extending Ryan Grant 13 years ago. Re-signing Williams and pairing him with Dillon would certainly come cheaper for Green Bay as well.

Jones is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. His second such season was lower on touchdowns (nine), but the former fifth-round pick managed 5.5 yards per carry on 201 carries — up from a 4.6 average in 2019. Jones joins fellow 2017 draftees Chris Carson and Marlon Mack in being unsigned ahead of free agency. Cardinals transition-tagged back Kenyan Drake is also unsigned, and Broncos two-time 1,000-yard rusher Phillip Lindsay is a restricted free agent. The franchise tag for backs may well drop from the 2020 mark, when Henry’s tag cost $10.2MM, but the cap’s expected reduction stands to limit tag usage this year. That could create an interesting marketplace at this position.

The Packers also have All-Pro center Corey Linsley due for free agency and just signed David Bakhtiari to a record extension. Linsley, 29, is seeking his third contract, but no substantial Packers-Linsley discussions are believed to have occurred yet.

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Packers’ Aaron Jones Chooses Drew Rosenhaus

Aaron Jones doesn’t want to wait much longer for a deal. With contract negotiations at an impasse, the Packers running back fired his agent and hired Drew Rosenhaus as his new representative (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). He’ll make the move along with his brother, Alvin Jones, a former UTEP and Ravens linebacker.

[RELATED: Packers Place Tyler Ervin On IR]

Jones is in the final year of his rookie deal and the former fifth-round pick is in line for a serious pay bump. After averaging 5.5 yards per carry in a limited sample through his first two years, Jones has proven that he can produce as a primary back. Last year, he notched 1,084 yards on the ground with 4.6 yards per tote. This year, he’s got 800+ yards across eleven games with an average of 5.1 yards per touch. He’s a receiving threat, too, having already snagged 38 passes for 285 yards and two scores in 2020.

The fourth-year pro won’t top Christian McCaffrey‘s contract, but he’ll aim high as he looks to secure the bag. In the meantime, he’ll keep the focus on the field as the Packers look to wrap up the conference.

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Packers’ Aaron Jones Changes Agents

The Packers and Aaron Jones have had recent extension talks, according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky (on Twitter). Apparently, Jones hasn’t been thrilled about the status of those discussions. The running back fired his agent as his expiration date draws near. 

The former fifth-round pick is drastically underpaid in the home stretch of his four-year, $2.6MM deal. Last year, he made his case with 1,558 total yards from scrimmage, an average of 4.6 yards per carry, and and 19 total touchdowns to lead all running backs in the NFL. This year, he’s been slowed by injuries somewhat, but he’s still managed nearly 1,110 all-purpose yards with 5.1 ypc.

Jones has been one of the NFL’s best backs over the past few years and he plans on getting a contract to reflect his performance. As shown by Joe Mixon‘s recent $12MM/year extension with the Bengals and Christian McCaffrey‘s record-shattering deal, teams are still willing to pony up the cash necessary to lock down their best offensive talent. The running back market, at long last, may even catch up to the rest of the field.

After topping the Lions 31-24, Jones and the Packers are even further ahead in the NFC North. They’ll look to keep their winning streak alive on Saturday night when they face the Panthers in Green Bay.

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Aaron Jones On Track To Play In Week 9

Good news for a Packers team that has seen COVID-19 decimate its running back room: Aaron Jones is on track to play Thursday night.

The standout running back has missed the past two games with a calf injury, but ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reports he is expected to be active against the 49ers (Twitter link).

A.J. Dillon‘s positive coronavirus test led to the Packers’ top Jones replacement — Jamaal Williams — being deemed a high-risk close contact. On the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list, Williams and Dillon will miss tonight’s game. The Packers having Jones active would be critical, though the notoriously cautious team will see how its starter looks in pregame warmups, per Schefter.

Green Bay promoted running back Dexter Williams from its practice squad Thursday and has return specialist Tyler Ervin set to play. Were Jones to experience pregame issues with his calf, the Packers would be extremely shorthanded in their backfield. A 2019 sixth-round pick, Williams has five career carries. Despite being a 2016 draftee, Ervin has 10 career totes.

Jones has been one of the NFL’s best backs over the past two seasons. After his 19-touchdown 2019 season, the former fifth-round pick is averaging 5.2 yards per carry this year. Jones has scored seven TDs in five games. He suffered the calf injury in practice prior to Green Bay’s Week 7 game in Houston. Returning to full strength will be key for Jones, who hopes to join several of his 2017 running back draft classmates in securing a big payday. His rookie contract expires at season’s end.

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NFC North Rumors: Robinson, Packers, Golladay

The Bears and WR Allen Robinson have resumed extension talks after a tumultuous week, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Chicago rebuffed trade inquiries on its star receiver while increasing the contract offer it had on the table. However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says negotiations are not likely to last deep into the season.

Per La Canfora, Robinson and the Bears still don’t see eye-to-eye on Robinson’s value, and Robinson may be content to head into the 2021 offseason as arguably the best WR available in free agency. But La Canfora says Robinson will not hit the open market. If the two sides don’t come to terms on a new deal, look for the Bears to slap the 27-year-old with the franchise tag. Obviously, both parties would prefer to avoid that outcome, but it sounds like there is still a wide gap that needs to be bridged in short order.

Now for more from the NFC North:

  • Before the season started, we heard that the Packers and RB Aaron Jones were working on a new deal. Although games are now underway, it sounds as if an extension could still get done. Jones, who is currently earning $2.133MM in the final year of his rookie contract, has seen plenty of other backs get new deals over the past several weeks and hopes he will get his big payday soon. “I’m definitely open to getting something done whenever,” Jones said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “But like I said, that’s not my main focus. Just gonna continue to focus on football and helping this team bring in the wins, as many as possible.”
  • Another key member of the Packers who is set for free agency in 2021 is LT David Bakhtiari. As was the case with Jones, Green Bay was hoping to finalize an extension for Bakhtiari before the season, but it sounds as if the two sides are far apart in negotiations. Demovsky says the All-Pro lineman is looking to match or exceed Laremy Tunsil‘s $22MM AAV, while the Packers’ best offer to date is about $4MM per year less than Bakhtiari’s asking price.
  • Lions WR Kenny Golladay will make his 2020 debut soon. Although the star receiver will miss Detroit’s Week 2 matchup with the Packers this afternoon, head coach Matt Patricia said Golladay is “really close” to a return (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network). A few weeks ago, the Lions and Golladay were said to be nearing an agreement on what will surely be a massive extension, though there were conflicting reports on that front.
  • ICYMI, the Bears and RB Tarik Cohen have come to terms on a three-year extension.

Packers, Aaron Jones Working On New Deal

Running back Aaron Jones says the Packers are “definitely” working on an extension with his camp (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Will Selva). Jones, who is coming off of his best season to date, has one year to go on his rookie deal.

The former fifth-round pick flashed in limited usage in his first two seasons. Last year, he showed that it wasn’t a fluke. In 16 games (all starts), Jones rushed for 1,084 yards and 16 touchdowns, plus 49 catches for 474 yards and three TDs through the air. After leading the league in rushing TDs, and all-purpose TDs, he’s clearly in line for a pay bump.

The Packers don’t want to let Jones get away, though they did protect themselves against the possibility by drafting Boston College standout A.J. Dillon in the second round. Dillon’s presence may give the Packers a bit of extra leverage in talks, though Jones understands his value as a dual-threat RB. A deal in the neighborhood of $10MM/year could be in his future, provided that teams aren’t too skittish about the fiscal uncertainty of 2021. It’s also worth noting that the Packers have other expensive matters on the docket, including a new deal for left tackle David Bakhtiari.

As shown by Joe Mixon‘s recent $12MM/year extension with the Bengals, teams are still willing to pony up the cash necessary to lock down their best offensive talent. With the Packers’ season opener just around the bend, Jones could be on the cusp of his big payday.

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Aaron Jones: “I Would Love To Be A Lifelong Packer”

Following a tremendous 2019 season, Packers RB Aaron Jones is in line for a lucrative extension that would catapult him up the list of the league’s highest-paid running backs. Green Bay met with Jones’ camp at the combine, but it’s currently unclear where the two sides stand in their contract talks.

For his part, Jones would like to stay with the Packers for the long haul. “I would love to be a lifelong Packer,” he said. “I trust my agents, and I trust the Packers. I trust them to get a deal done. If I can control what I can control, I feel like it will be taken care of” (Twitter links via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com).

Jones’ agent, Chris Cabott, confirmed Wednesday discussions with the Packers have taken place, Demovsky adds. But the parties have more work to do.

Green Bay selected Boston College RB A.J. Dillon in the second round of this year’s draft, which could suggest that the club is less keen on a long-term deal. On the other hand, Dillon does not presently profile as the type of receiving threat that Jones is, so there may be room for both players over the next couple of years.

But Dillon could end up poaching Jones’ goal-line carries, and head coach Matt LaFleur has repeatedly expressed his preference for a RB-by-committee approach. With Dillon and holdover Jamaal Williams in the picture, Jones may be hard-pressed to replicate his 2019 production.

Jones said he is not disappointed or surprised that the club invested a high draft choice in a running back, but he surely hopes to cash in while his value could be at its peak. As a dual-threat RB, it would not be terribly surprising to seem him command $10MM or so on a yearly basis, but a 2020 decline — along with the league’s general reluctance to give large second contracts to running backs — could depress his market.

The former fifth-round pick ran for 1,084 yards with a league-leading 16 touchdowns and averaged 4.6 yards per carry last year. He also hauled in 49 receptions – one of several new career watermarks – for 474 yards and three scores.

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