At just 25-years of age, Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones has transformed from fifth-round draft pick into one of the league’s very best players at his position.
In 2019, the Packers changed coaches, opting to hire Matt LaFleur as the new head man in Green Bay. Along with LaFleur’s arrival in the Badger State came a newfound appreciation and commitment to the run game, and in return, a dedication to get Aaron Jones the football. Jones enjoyed a career season across the board under Lafleur, entrenching himself as one of the league’s top running backs.
However, with one more season left on his rookie deal, will the Packers decide to pay Jones the amount of money his talent seemingly dictates? Let’s take a look.
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Aaron Jones Contract: One of the NFL’s Most Team-Friendly Deals
Jones was a key cog in the Packers 13-3 season in 2019, helping the team reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The former UTEP star eclipsed the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the first time in his pro career, while also tying Christian McCaffrey for the league lead in total touchdowns with an astonishing 19 scores on the year.
The best part about the numbers shown above, at least from the Packers’ perspective, is that they’re getting elite production for the price that some teams are paying fringe roster players.
Coming out of college, Jones was a mostly unheralded prospect, coming off the board in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In fact, Jones was selected a round later than his current backup Jamaal Williams in that same draft.
When Jones signed his name on the dotted line coming out of college, he agreed to a 4 year, $2,601,937 contract with Green Bay with a nearly $202,000 signing bonus.
All in all, Jones’ average salary is around just $650,000. To better put into perspective the type of return on investment Green Bay is getting here, let’s take into consideration two of the league’s highest-paid running backs, Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley.
Gurley makes an average yearly salary of $14.3 million. Elliott comes in a smidge above Gurley, with an average of $15 million per year. Jones topped Gurley in essentially every statistical category possible in 2019, while scoring five more touchdowns than Zeke on the season.
Jones Not Expected to Get New Deal in 2020
Aaron Jones will be entering the final year of his contract heading into the 2020 NFL season, which means he becomes eligible for a potential contract extension. However, if you expect the Packers to personally choose to pay Jones more than his current 2020 base salary of $735,000 that they are contractually obligated to, you’re likely sadly mistaken.
Here’s what ESPN’s Bill Barnwell had to say about the pending contract negotiations between Jones and the Packers.
He has done all this while the Packers have refused to even use him as an every-down back for most of the past two years, which leads to a fascinating negotiation. Jones looks like one of the best running backs in football when he’s on the field. There will certainly be teams that want to pay him like a franchise back if he hits free agency. The disconnect between his success and his usage rate makes it difficult to judge what happens next. If any of these situations has a chance to turn into the next Bell or Gordon standoff, it’s this one. With that in mind, the Packers seem likely to let Jones play out the final year of his rookie deal in 2020.
While it seems unlikely Jones will cash-in prior to the 2020 season, one thing is for certain, as long as his production carries over into next year, Jones will be breaking the bank in the near future.