Don’t count on the Green Bay Packers letting Aaron Jones slip through their fingers.
The Packers are taking a proactive approach with Jones after his breakout season in 2019 and have already scheduled a meeting with Jones’ agent to begin discussions on a new deal for the star running back as he enters the final year of his rookie contract, per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. There was said to be “mutual interest” between both parties to extend the 25-year-old running back’s contract beyond the 2020 season, according to Packers insiders Tom Silverstein and Jim Owczarski.
Jones emerged as one of the Packers top offensive weapons during his third NFL season after tying for the most rushing touchdowns (16) and total touchdowns (19) and eclipsing 1,000 rushing yards for the first time. A fifth-round pick in 2017, Jones also proved deadly in the passing game with a second-best 49 catches for 474 yards — including a gouging 159-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in prime time.
Jones received a salary bump from $735,000 to $2.147 million for playing in more than 35 percent of offensive snaps over his first three seasons, as did fellow fifth-round rusher Jamaal Williams, but the price tag on Jones’ next deal will rightly be set much higher for 2021 and beyond.
“Certainly, Aaron was dynamic for us,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I was impressed with his ability to stay healthy and stay out there. He certainly had more touches than he’s had, so that proved a lot to us I think. He’s such an important part of what Matt is trying to do on offense. He’s a versatile piece because you can move him all around and really make it tough on defenses.”
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What Could Aaron Jones’ Next Contract Cost?
The Packers have more than enough time to figure out the right price point for bringing back their lead running back for future seasons, but the market is predicting Jones could command just shy of $15 million per year on his next contract after a star-studded season.
According to Spotrac, the market value of Jones’ next deal is estimated to be $59.89 million over four years or about $14.9 million annually, which would make him the second-highest paid running back in the league — at least prior to the start of 2020 free agency. The Dallas Cowboys made Ezekiel Elliott the highest-paid rusher in the NFL last year when they signed him to a six-year, $90 million deal.
The value of Jones’ future deal was calculated based on Elliott’s massive contract as well as the deals on another trio of top-notch running back, including Todd Gurley (four years, $57.5 million), Le’Veon Bell (four years, $52.5 million) and David Johnson (three years, $39 million). Jones gets a higher-value deal than Bell and Johnson for being younger — he won’t turn 26 until next December — while a strong 2020 season could realistically push his value into Gurley’s range.
The Packers will also have to weigh decisions on several other important 2021 free agents as they determine how much to pay Jones going forward, and not all of them will come cheap with starters David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, Kevin King and Kenny Clark all expected to chase top dollar next year.